The NRA has become a cowardly, politicized, public relations empty suit. If there is any chance for this presumed gun rights organization to recover from the atrophy, myopia, and cowardice which has engulfed it, I strongly recommend members had best read the Anti-Project Exile petition and support those who support the Second Amendment. Otherwise, be prepared to do what hundreds of thousands of Californians are having to do -- fight your own battles. Harsh words? Hell, I've got a tight bridle and hobbles on my real feelings.
When California Gov. Gray Davis signed into law a remarkably poorly written, tragically flawed, and unconstitutional alleged assault-weapons enhancement, we tired to solicit the help of the supposed big gun rights organizations. We were ignored, patronized and even criticized for our efforts to stop the gun grabbers. The NRA and others did not want us to put a referendum on the state ballot to overturn the bad law. Allegedly, "they would take care of it." Bullfeathers! They did not want to draw attention to "their" issue in the elections because presumed conservative Republican candidates would be compelled to address an issue they would prefer to avoid. There was also the distinct impression that if they didn't invent it, it had no merit.
I formed a grassroots organization, Vetothegovernor.org and launched a petition gathering effort over the Internet. Although we had over 3-million hits to our Web page, we only collected about 317,000 signatures. We did that with NO MONEY, and entirely with grassroots support.
Although we were unsuccessful in qualifying for the ballot, we were successful in establishing a remarkable grassroots network, which spans from San Diego to the Oregon border. Over 600 retail locations were distributing petitions.
With the help of attorney Don Kilmer and other constitutionally grounded lawyers, we crafted a constitutional amendment which was short, concise, and powerful. Here's the language of the amendment:
1. All State government action regulating the right of law-abiding persons to acquire and possess arms for the defense of self, family and home, shall be subject to strict scrutiny, in the same respect as the freedoms of speech and of the press. All county, city and local government action on this subject is preempted by state law and this Amendment.
This Amendment does not limit the State from regulating the acquisition
and possession of arms by: felons, minors, the mentally incompetent, and
any person subject to restraining orders based upon their own violent conduct.
Again, we have struggled to solicit support of the alleged gun rights groups, and again we have been ignored, and patronized. This struggle is not personal. It is not about Geoff Metcalf, or Don Kilmer, or the current NRA leadership. This struggle is about defending the RIGHT to defend our family and ourselves.
It had been my hope to avoid establishing another organization. Rather, I hoped (vainly) to encourage a coalition of already existing gun rights groups. Frankly, I did not want to compete for money, or erode membership bases of groups that had traditionally fought for Second Amendment rights.
California is the only state left in the union that has NRA Members Councils. These are grassroots activists groups, and allegedly the institutional types in Fairfax, Va., hate the concept. Like bureaucrats everywhere, control is their drug, and any hint of insubordination is anathema to them.
Not long ago, a group of California Member Council presidents met and heard from my co-proponent of the Right to Keep and bear Arms Initiative, Don Kilmer. Before Don could finish his pitch, there was a motion to demand the NRA to support our effort. The vote would have been unanimous except for two corporate synchophants who claimed they shouldn't get involved in NRA politics. One of the presidents reminded the dissenters "I AM the NRA."
More recently, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre was scheduled to speak to his state leadership at two meetings, one in Northern California and one in Southern California. The presumed purpose of the meeting was to address the request by the Members Council regarding the Initiative. Wayne was a no-show. Reportedly, he had been called away at the last minute by Sen. Orrin Hatch, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and that would be important. OK, that is plausible -- stuff happens. However, the NRA board members who did arrive in California not only did not address the key issue, they flatly rejected the suggestion. Reportedly, THEY would propose an initiative sometime later.
When asked to just include the initiative in their multiple publications, the response was negative. They claimed two reasons; one was disingenuous, and the other was a flat out lie.
They said they did not want to do anything half way. That is disingenuous, and I suggest they are cowards and afraid to get in a fight that isn't fixed. They are so terrified of losing they would rather capitulate. The second reason was an absurd lie. They claim the fight would cost $38-million and they just could not afford that. Since then they have reportedly amended their estimate to around $8-million.
The tobacco initiative fight in California cost $10-million.
I am not writing this in behalf of anyone other than myself. The gun rights community is a very dysfunctional family, but we are a family. I have been very reluctant to do anything other than encourage a coalition approach. However, in the wake of the NRA's arrogance, myopia, patronizing, big-brother dreams of "if we ignore them long enough they will go away," I am more committed to continue this fight for as long as I have breath in my body. I have lost before, and I may lose again, but I will not stop fighting.
If the NRA is not prepared to be part of the solution, then in my opinion they are part of the problem. They allegedly want to focus their efforts on electing conservative Republicans only. As if THAT has accomplished the job?
They are right that the battle for partisan control is important, but it is not and should not be their priority. Last time I checked NRA did not stand for National Republican Association. What about all those Democrats, Libertarians and others who pay dues to the NRA? Should their dues be directed at partisan politics or issue politics?
Here in California we have a couple of liberal Democrats who are strong supporters of the Second Amendment. Is the NRA suggesting we abandon a supporter because of party colors?
I have cut up my NRA membership card and am returning my "Defender of Freedom" award. I am a constitutional conservative. I am a defender of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I am NOT the NRA.