Gun Club Political Activism in Election Years
With the anti-gun bill package signed in Colorado, gun owners around then country must start laying the groundwork for 2014. Here in Pennsylvania, select regions may also start testing the water by targeting MAIG mayors in municipal elections this year.
For average gun owners who only have limited energy for following the political fight should still be focused on writing letters or making phone calls at the federal level. However, if you have the energy and dedication to step your activism up a notch, we’ve reached out to other activists to come up with ideas that members of gun clubs can use to make a difference for pro-gun candidates. (All of those looking to involve themselves in elections with organized gun clubs should look into any state or federal laws that may be relevant in terms of fundraising and in-kind donations before following ideas suggested here or developed offline.)
>> Contact the candidates you are backing and ask if they could set aside some “manual labor” type jobs for your club to offer during designated work times. The things that would most easily fit with typical gun range work times would be putting together yard signs, hammering together the frames for really large signs to be posted at intersections and larger plots of land, and even stuffing literature bags for precinct walks. These are activities that more gun guys who may not feel the most confident in walking door-to-door and being social or making phone calls to strangers can do. Even better, because of the need for target stands at many ranges, the tools and skills for building sign frames are already available.
>> Offer the club facility for use as a fundraising site for a local candidate. The campaign can handle everything, but they at least have use of the facility for free. The only real concern for the club in this case is to set up ground rules for use of the club (i.e. who is responsible for cleanup, any restrictions on catering, noise regulations, etc.).
>> Offer to actually host a fundraiser for a candidate or slate of candidates. Rather than simply allowing a campaign to use to property, the club would act as host of the fundraiser – arranging a caterer or finding club members who can cook up some hamburgers, inviting members and families, etc. While many people think of fundraisers as something big and expensive, they don’t have to be. Do a simple/cheap food theme and charge something like $25 or $30 per adult. If you do this early in the campaign season, you’re more likely to get the candidate out to the event where people can meet him/her and actually talk issues. And, there’s no reason to stop at just offering food. You could make it a shoot or match for added fun and social opportunities.
>> If the club is really willing to get involved, then work with a campaign to do secure pre-paid cell phones and set up a day to do some phone banking from the club. Bring in some pizza, sandwiches and sodas for club members, and give them work time credit. Make it a social event at the club. If the campaign is larger – like a Congressional or Senate campaign – then they may even have a list of call sheets that just target fellow sportsmen. It’s much, much easier to make a phone call to a stranger in support of a candidate when you know the talking points are about issues you know and the recipient is a fellow gun owner. If the local campaigns don’t have this level of targeting, NRA will have such systems in place to make calls to gun owners in favor of their endorsed candidates. Also, big secret to phone banking, you almost always just talk to answering machines, so it doesn’t require being that social.
>> See if the guys and gals who shoot matches with guns that are the targets of gun bans would be willing to get together one day for a couple of hours of door knocking and dropping off literature. Working in small groups is an easy way to knock out a neighborhood quickly, and it’s a bit of exercise and time in the sun.
>> If the club doesn’t have the facilities to host an event, use the club newsletter or calendar to promote outside candidate events like the low-level fundraisers, precinct walk days, and especially any kind of sportsmen’s outreach events. Unfortunately, you may not always have the months or weeks of heads up about these types of events required for traditional newsletter publication, but you can use a club website and/or an email list. Start thinking about these kinds of activities as typical additions to the club’s matches and other events. Just like competitions help preserve the Second Amendment by keeping people engaged with the gun culture, political work for pro-gun candidates also helps preserve the Second Amendment.
>> Invite your pro-gun lawmakers to club events where there will be quite a few people – picnics, major meetings, special events, etc. If you don’t have many club events to choose from, consider inviting them to join you at a table at a Friends of NRA dinner. Make sure to communicate with them what kind of event it is – whether or not it is one where they are allowed get up and say a few words or give a full speech. If you do arrange an event like this, give the scheduler or other staffer some idea of what the audience will be like. Sure, it may be taking place at a gun club, but that doesn’t mean the only issue people there care about relate to guns. If there are common traits or circumstances that apply to the membership beyond a shared love of our rights, let the lawmaker know so they can be prepared to answer questions about those issues, too.
>> Start at the real grassroots of your local political structures. A fellow NRA volunteer suggested identifying precinct or other hyper-local party captains or leaders in your area and inviting the pro-Second Amendment leaders to a social shoot at the facility. They could get to know club leaders, meet club members, and be reminded of the potential power of the pro-gun vote. Another consideration might be to issue an invitation to all of these hyper-local leaders to an educational class or demonstration at the range.