To all of those “reporters” and pundits at ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CNN, the New York Times and all the other Times, the Boston Globe, the Spokane Spokesman-Review, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Arizona Republic, all of the Tribunes, Stars and Ledgers – let me make something perfectly clear: The National Rifle Association is not the gun lobby.
Neither is the National Shooting Sports Foundation, nor the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manfacturers’ Institute, nor the hundreds of grassroots and activist organizations or the thousands of local gun clubs. ‘
I am the gun lobby. Whenever you talk about the gun lobby, you are talking about me. All those groups and entities are some of the tools I use to express myself, but they are not me, and they do not necessarily speak for me.
I am the gun lobby, and my power does not derive from my personal wealth nor financial support from the industry that serves me. My power comes from the fact that I am one of many who understand that individuals have the right and the obligation to protect themselves from criminal assault, and that no one – not the government, not the media, nor anyone else, has the right to decide what, when, where or how I responsibly exercise that right and obligation.
I am just one of tens of millions who comprise the gun lobby, and I am not going away, I am not backing down and I am not giving in – not one little bit.
It infuriates me when I hear “reporting” and editorializing about “the powerful gun lobby” and “the intransigent gun lobby” and sometimes even “the evil gun lobby,” as if I were a handful of rich fat cats in safari shirts sitting in a room full of mahogany, leather, stuffed animals and cigar smoke plotting how to increase crime in order to increase our profits.
I am the people! I am the 80 to 90 million people in this country who own guns and the tens of millions more who do not own guns, but fully support our right to do so.
Unlike the anti-rights groups like the Violence Policy Center and the Brady Campaign, we do not get the bulk of our money from wealthy do-gooder endowments like the Joyce Foundation or wealthy individuals like Mike Bloomberg.
I get my money by working for it in factories, on construction sites, in small businesses, stores, shops, farms and ranches. I pull the money I use to support or oppose candidates and to pay my professional advocates, not from tax dollars or union dues, but from my own wallet. I support companies that support me, and I reward those that use some of the money I give them to support my cause.
Unlike my opponents, I do not derive my power from friends in the media or from minions in state and federal offices. I derive my power from the volunteers I can muster and the votes I can deliver. I want little from politicians – mostly to be left in peace. If a politician disturbs my peace, I will do my best to fire them and hire someone else to do the job. That’s not bullying, or threatening, or undue influence, that’s the American ideal as expressed in the First Amendment – Americans expressing their will and support for the Constitution with our individual votes.
Unlike the Bradys and Bloombergs who advocate for regulation, limits, bans and government controls over law-abiding citizens, I do not advocate government making any decision for any responsible individual. I do not advocate the arming of teachers or the arming of students or the arming of anyone. Instead I defend the right of all responsible people to make their own choices.
I do not assume that thoughtful, responsible people will lose control and become heartless killers or mindless idiots because a gun is present. I reject the notion that “the trigger pulls the finger,” as some of my opponents have gone so far to say. I trust responsible adult citizens to be responsible adults, and that trust has been proven consistently everywhere it has been given. I reject the idea that a sign on a wall or a policy in an employee handbook can, will or ever has stopped someone intent on murder and mayhem from carrying out their criminal acts. To the contrary, I believe that such acts can and have been prevented and curtailed by responsible citizens who had the means and were willing to place themselves in harm’s way for the sake of others. I believe that it is wrong to disarm such people based on their job or where they happen to be.
I am the gun lobby. I am deeply rooted in the ideals and principles of this great nation. I am a true American and a true grass roots movement, not like the externally funded, Astroturf organizations that oppose me.
Certainly there are honorable and committed individuals who truly believe that guns are the problem, that guns cause crime and that giving the state a monopoly on power is the key to establishing a peaceful and safe society. I believe that those people are misguided at best.
I am many, diverse and have varying levels of knowledge and understanding, but I am unified by a single individual truth: that no one has the right to make me helpless in the face of violence to myself, my family, my community or my country.