by John Boch
(Guns Save Life) – This has been a lively year in the General Assembly. Of course, we reached a victory in passage of the shall-issue right-to-carry bill through the legislature. We also beat back some serious threats on our civil rights following the Connecticut glory killing massacre.
Yes, 2013 has proven a decent year for gun owners in Illinois, certainly compared to how some other states have fared.
Ordinarily, I’d be upbeat about our wins, but frankly I’m fatigued.
Since December, we have faced a near-constant onslaught of Draconian legislative proposals that would have stripped you and I of the right to own popular self-defense firearms in the Land of Lincoln.
We narrowly missed a semi-auto ban (replete with turn-ins and confiscation) by a couple of votes and a magazine ban late in the session by a single vote.
Yes, we got right-to-carry, but it wasn’t nearly as favorable as we would have gotten if Prairie State gun owners had been more aggressive in their lobbying.
Are you upset with the 16-hours of training required for a license? Unhappy with the $150 fee? Angry over the long list of prohibited locations? Join the club.
How did this screwed up carry bill get passed? It passed because too few gun owners contacted their legislator in person, on the phone, and by letter about their gun rights.
If politicians had half of the blowback on carry as they received a couple of years ago when Lisa Madigan proposed making Firearms Owners Identification cardowner information public, we would have had a great carry bill.
All of this brought back something Steve Naber from Jacksonville said to me earlier this year, “freedom is not a spectator sport”.
We must more aggressively support our friends and hold other legislators accountable when they stray from defending our right to defend our families.
While Todd Vandermyde, the NRA Institute for Legislative Action’s point-man in Springfield is very good, he doesn’t walk on water, despite the popular, light-hearted expression “In Todd We Trust”.
He can’t do this by himself.
If we as gun owners don’t get our peers more motivated and engaged in these coming months, we’re going to lose big in the next few years, both at the state level and nationally.
What can you do?
1. Join the National Rifle Association. The NRA is the big dog on the block and love them or hate them, they are the reason you can own a Glock 19 or America’s favorite rifle, the AR-15, in Illinois today. Join the NRA. It’s not a wedding vow – it’s $35 a year.
2. Join a regional gun rights organization. Join Guns Save Life and if you are unhappy with our aggressive, proactive style, then join the Illinois State Rifle Association. Why join a regional group? They are more attuned to state and local issues and they are more approachable. You can call and talk with yours truly any time as you have my cell phone number (see the inside back cover for direct contact information for all of GSL’s officers and directors). I’m guessing you don’t have Wayne LaPierre’s cell number in your phone.
3. Contact your state senator and representative. If they don’t know you by name and recognize you when they see you in public, then you haven’t quite done enough to get to know them. Call them, write them, stop by and see them in person and let them know you want them to support your right to defend yourself.
4. Stay current on the issues. Visit GunsSaveLife.com or an Illinois-specific forum for legislative issues that may come up. Write letters and make calls when critical issues come up.
5. When election season rolls around, at the bare minimum, you must support local candidates which support your right to keep and bear arms beginning in the primary races. Is their support of your family’s right to self-defense worth a $50 or $100 check to their campaign, or if you don’t have a hundred bucks, perhaps a weekend of your time volunteering? Waiting until the general election may well be too late.
Put another way, is it worth a couple of weekends volunteering for a friendly candidate’s campaign so you can have the choice to own and carry a self-defense pistol that holds more than six rounds? A corollary: who will the politician listen to more carefully… the man or woman who volunteered to help his campaign or someone the politician has never heard of before?
6. Vote in every single election. Take a like-minded friend or family member so they can vote as well. Encourage the low-information types to stay home and tell them how their vote doesn’t count and how there’s no real difference between politicians. It won’t take much to convince them that their vote doesn’t count, after all, they are disinterested low-information types.
7. Lastly, exercise those rights. Get training. Go shooting and take a friend.
Appleseed calls it the “Seventh Step” of firing a shot – activism. Spread the fun and excitement of shooting with a non-gun owner or three. Who among us hasn’t seen a first-time shooter’s face light up with the thrill and excitement after they shoot a gun for the first time? Yeah, they’ll remember it for years to come and maybe years later, they will do that with people in their own lives.
These first-time shooters Sophia, above, and Olivia, below, were both very excited with their first time shooting. Both did pretty well, too. Share this excitement: take a non-shooter out for their first time behind a gun.
Also, who do non-gun owners go to for advice and information when they near that point in their lives when they first recognize the benefits firearm ownership offers their household? They go to their gun owner friends – YOU. Give them good information and take them out for a couple of hours of shooting. If you don’t feel qualified to answer their questions, refer them to someone you know who can help them.
In short, get active in defending your civil rights. It’s not hard, certainly compared to what our nation’s Founding Fathers sacrificed to give us this great nation.
Again, if we as gun owners throughout our state don’t get more active in this next legislative cycle, our collective geese will be cooked. It’s your call.
Thanks for reading and God bless America and our firearm civil rights.