Gun Ban Zealots' Big Money Can't Buy
Grassroots, But is Still a Threat



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By Kurt Hofmann, May 1st 2014
JPFO writer contributor, © 2014.

For years, we of the "gun lobby" (that would be you, me, and every other American who treasures our Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms) have enjoyed a significant financial advantage over the other side. For the same number of years, the forcible citizen disarmament lobby has blamed their failures on that advantage.

The Violence Policy Center has made that something of a central theme, not only using the "gun lobby" as a synonym for the NRA, but then casting the NRA as a mercenary tool of gun manufacturers, despite VPC's inability to nail down the amount of money NRA receives from the industry any more precisely than within a factor of three, and completely ignoring the millions the group receives from individual members. The Brady Campaign, similarly, is now seemingly incapable of referring to the "gun lobby" without prefacing the term with "corporate," despite the fact that the vast majority of American gun manufacturers are not publicly traded corporations.

According to The Guardian, though, we are now entering a changed reality, with anti-gun advocates amassing bigger war chests than pro-rights groups:

Political donations to groups supporting gun control have overtaken money raised by the National Rifle Association and its allies in the 16 months since the Newtown school shooting, according to latest filings with the Federal Election Commission.

The article quotes claims by the anti-gun organizations that much of their money came in via small donations, an indicator of a cause with grassroots support, rather than a pet crusade on the part of a few control-hungry plutocrats. The truth of those claims is open to question, though, and no effort was made to track these notional small donations over time, as the Sandy Hook massacre gradually fades as a useful (if grotesquely opportunistic and exploitative) tool for "gun control."

The vast sums of money wielded by the gun prohibitionists were highlighted recently when multi-billionaire anti-gun fanatic and former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged $50 million to his new "gun control" group, after already having sunk millions into his "Mayors Against Illegal Guns" group and "Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America."

Still, gun rights advocates note that no amount of money can trump grassroots activism by masses of people fiercely and passionately dedicated to a cause they know is just, and it is our side that holds that advantage. Indeed, even Ladd Everitt, communications director of the rabidly anti-gun Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, admitted as much in a Time Magazine article:

Even modest changes will be met with criticism. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, gun-control advocates spent $57,900 during the 2008 election, while the gun-rights lobby shelled out $2.4 million, or 41 times more. More importantly, says Ladd Everitt of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, they have cultivated a committed corps of "single-issue voters" — people who reliably trek to the polls to cast a ballot for the candidate who will go to the mat for their right to bear arms. "We have not been able, to the degree we need, to develop a single-issue public-safety vote," Everitt says. "That is our challenge."

Granted, that quote was from January 2011, nearly two years before the Sandy Hook Elementary atrocity emerged as such a golden opportunity for cynical exploitation by the anti-gun jihadists. Everitt and others would now probably argue that Sandy Hook has changed all that.

But has it? It hasn't changed the fact that last weekend's NRA convention drew something like 80,000 gun-rights advocates, while a nearby anti-gun protest mustered 25 opponents of the right to self-defense (and, according to BuzzFeed, most of those were paid to be there). Scores of millions of dollars can buy a lot of political advertising, but can any amount of such advertising buy off gun owners' demand for continued access to the most effective means of defending their homes, their lives, their families, and their freedom?

Very doubtful.

Speaking of CSGV, one indicator of their embrace of the new dynamic is the fact that although they once complained bitterly about the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling relaxing limits on spending for political advocacy (one example), they seem to have become strangely quiet on the issue of late.

As gun-rights advocates, even with the gun-ban jihadists' inability to buy a true grassroots movement worthy of the name, we ignore their huge glut of money at our peril. We must know, after all, that money makes some difference, else why would the "gun lobby" have spent so many millions over the years? Over that time, with a huge cash advantage, we have mostly held onto our gun rights, and made some gains here and there. Losing that advantage, and indeed seeing it starting to reverse, cannot be without consequence. Money may not buy grassroots, but it certainly can buy politicians.

The shift in the money dynamic is probably not over yet--we should not be surprised to see Bloomberg's and friends' slight funding advantage grow. And that means that we have to grow our advantage. We cannot allow politicians to forget that they serve us, and not the other way around, and that attempts to trample our rights are grounds for termination. We need to make ourselves heard in letters to the editor. We need to embrace social media as a political tool. We must press the advantage inherent to the fact that among decent people, passion for rights is greater than any passion to trample them.

In the final extremity, we can, and will if we must, defend our right to keep and bear arms by exercising that right. How much better for everyone, though, if it never comes to that, because we successfully defend it by exercising our First Amendment rights?

That will take work. Let's get to it.

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A former paratrooper, Kurt Hofmann was paralyzed in a car accident in 2002. The helplessness inherent to confinement to a wheelchair prompted him to explore armed self-defense, only to discover that Illinois denies that right, inspiring him to become active in gun rights advocacy. He also writes the St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner column.

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