Good day, Ladies and Gents!
As we all know, gun owners served as the pinata for Michael Madigan and most of his Prairie State Democrats pushing gun control this spring. Sadly, some Republicans joined Michael Madigan on these votes as well. Given how gun control breached our defensive barriers this year, one can confidently predict the gun grabbers will return for more next year after this fall's mid-term elections.
As the good guys in the gun rights fight, we need to help our allies in office. While at the same time, we need to show those who voted against The People of the Gun that their votes have consequences. Below I submit an outline for a plan to impact this year's elections and to influence next year's votes.
Working extensively with our friends at the NRA and the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, we are putting our heads together. Make no mistake, Illinois' premier gun rights organization – the NRA – remains the quarterback in this game, and Guns Save Life is working closely and cooperatively to build a game plan that will complement the NRA's overall plan.
I'm pleased to say that we're making progress and all parties share excitement, enthusiasm and optimism that we can get proven results. Of course, we welcome other groups including Illinois Carry and the Illinois State Rifle Association (and other groups) to join us in planning and implementation of a winning strategy for November and beyond. Thankfully, the election remains 137 days away (but who's counting, yet…), giving us time to further refine and implement our plan.
First off though, Guns Save Life, like the National Rifle Association, exists as a single-issue organization. Party does not matter, neither do stands on other issues. We'll take a staunchly pro-gun Democrat over a squishy Peter Breen Republican any day of the week and twice in Sundays. And a proven incumbent's votes (good or bad) trump words on the campaign trail. Votes trump promises.
Secondly, while IRS rules prohibit us from making endorsements, nothing prohibits us from educating people on the candidates and their position on gun rights. Frankly, endorsements mean little in the grand scheme of things, unless that endorsement comes with a big check. Gun rights groups from the big dog National Rifle Association down to the local gun range simply don't have the deep pockets of unions or billionaires like Bloomberg and Soros.
While we don't have Bloomberg's cash, we do have motivated patriots who work tirelessly for the noble cause of freedom. And, of course, we all vote.
Frankly, I'd rather have a group of motivated gun owners and gun rights activist volunteers working for or against a candidate than a million dollars. But it's nice to imagine if a gun rights group like Guns Save Life had both – a million dollars plus our members – to pour into public education and advocacy!
We – our Guns Save Life members – already accomplish far more on our shoestring operating budget than groups ten times our size! Once again, it's all thanks to our awesome members and supporters, of course. Yes, Michael Bloomberg and George Soros are right to remain green with envy.
Back to the plan. Frankly, we are still finalizing its legs, but it's coming into focus. Of course, we're not going to fill in all of the blanks for the other side who no doubt read GunsSaveLife.com. Yet there remains plenty we can share here. After all, YOU are our faithful and loyal supporters (and the people who often make things happen!), we believe you have a right to an overview. At the same time, we will need you and other volunteers to implement some aspects of this plan.
No, we're not going to hold our hand out and ask for money. However, we will ask you for your time and energy but we'll let you decide where you think you would best fit into things given your knowledge, skills and abilities.
1. Intervene in key state-level races with voter education.
Working with the NRA, we have identified a few very competitive Illinois House and Senate races to target. That's in addition to the race for governor.
Through public education, we want to help tip the scales in the favor of the pro-gun candidates. Yes, this will take some bucks and resources to do targeted mailings and other advertising, but our contacts with the NRA have all expressed a willingness to spend some capital in this election. We can help provide the public education as well.
Admittedly, the NRA in Illinois has changed this past year. The NRA-ILA ended its partnership with longtime contract lobbyist Todd Vandermyde. Also, John Weber has replaced Shannon Alford. From my front-row seat to the General Assembly, I can say that John Weber has proved himself quite capable. What's more, the NRA-ILA has done everything I've asked of them and then some this spring. Not only that, but they have spent real money in these recent battles. I don't see the NRA's proactive attitudes changing.
We have already started to implement this first leg, both in GunNews and on our website.
Rich Fat Cat JB Pritzer HATES Your Guns
JB Pritzer, who inherited $1.6 billion (with a ‘b’) from a hotel empire, has shown nothing but animosity towards gun rights for the little people. While JB Pritzker has his armed security to protect his family, he opposes your right to own a gun to defend yours.
Hostility towards gun rights
Just how radical is JB Pritzker when it comes to guns?
Well, in 1997, he floated the idea of a 100 percent tax on handguns and handgun ammunition. In the same campaign, he voiced support for banning the sale of handguns entirely. How elitist, right?
We have done a lot of this in previous election cycles, but you will see much more this year. Of course, it will retain the aggressiveness Guns Save Life has earned its reputation for delivering.
2. Intervene in not-so-competitive races with voter education.
Frankly, Illinois does not have a lot of competitive races. However, sometimes a little publicity and voter education can make non-competitive races a lot more expensive and, well, "exciting" for incumbents. We don't necesssarily think we will tip the scales, but we certainly can make the point that voting against gun owners carries with it real consequences at election time.
In Illinois, we want to make a couple of races more exciting.
How? Well, take Debbie Maggart, as an example. In 2012, she served at the #3 Republican in the Tennessee House and enjoyed a comfortable seat. She betrayed gun owners and learned first hand that key anti-gun votes have consequences. Here's how the anti-gun NY Daily News covered it:
Tennessee lawmaker reveals ruthless way NRA attacked her for opposing pro-gun legislation
The "price" that the National Rifle Association's chief lobbyist threatened against lawmakers supporting a new gun control push is one that countless lawmakers across both parties are well acquainted with.
For years, the powerful gun group has attacked both Republican and Democratic office-holders, at every level, for supporting even the most modest gun control reforms or for opposing radical laws that would turn various counties or states into the "Wild, Wild West."
Debra Maggart, a gun-owning, life-time NRA member who served as the No. 3 Republican in the Tennessee state House, was the target of one such extreme effort.
In 2012, Maggart opposed an NRA-backed bill that would have made it legal for state residents to keep guns in their cars, regardless of where the car was parked (be it at a school, at work, or even at church).
Maggart, a self-described "avowed Second Amendment rights-backer" who still owns a handgun carry permit, had helped oversee the passage of more than 20 gun bills through the state legislature.
"But it wasn't enough for the NRA. They wanted you to be able to bring a gun on any piece of property by keeping it in your car," she explained to the Daily News. "It was a straightforward conflict between gun rights and property rights."
Yeah, a few billboards and a mailing. How did that work out for Debbie Maggart?
Well, Huffington Post has that story.
Debra Maggart, Former GOP Lawmaker Targeted By NRA: ‘They Turned On Me’
Former chair of the Republican caucus in the Tennessee House of Representatives Debra Maggart joined HuffPost Live Tuesday to tell her story of being “bullied” by the NRA during her 2012 primary race in which she was defeated. Maggart, a lifetime member of the NRA and a politician who “always had an A+ rating” from the gun lobby, declined to support a bill earlier this year that would permit Tennesseans to keep guns inside locked cars and soon became a target of the NRA. As Maggart describes it, “When they didn’t get what they wanted, they turned on someone anyone would have considered a friend.”
“They made me an example,” she said of the NRA, which according to Maggart, spent $155,000 to defeat her, with ads that linked her to President Obama on gun control. “If you’re a state legislative member, you definitely need to be concerned about this, because I know that they did this in Georgia, and they’ve done this in Alabama, where they came after state house and state senate members, and that kind of money can really make an impact in a state legislative race.”
"FORMER GOP LAWMAKER." Yep. She complains how she was "bullied". Right. Nobody bullied her. We, the pro-gun folks, merely explained how actions have consequences.
Now, if gun owners would go after Debbie Maggart for opposing a measure to make vehicles a safe haven for gun storage while parking at anti-gun locations, imagine what we will do to politicians who vote to ration gun purchases, or take our gun rights away without due process? Or ban certain demographics from their gun rights?
3. Educate our side on lobbying their elected officials.
Early this year, before the primaries, gun owners got steamrolled. A number of bad bills passed with overwhelming support thanks in part to the "we have to do something!" hysteria that infected Springfield.
At the same time, some Guns Save Life members, on their own initiative, contacted their legislators. In three cases, they reached out to newly appointed politicians. In another case, they met with a veteran legislator unnerved by the publicity related to Parkland, Florida.
By educating the rookies about guns, and existing gun laws, our members dispelled some of the false narratives promoted in the mainstream media. After a lengthy meeting, these legislators now vote pro-gun as they have the facts. Not only that, but in two cases, the legislators now look at these local constituents as the "go to" people to contact when they have questions about new gun proposals. These legislators trust our Guns Save Life members to give them the true facts about our issue.
In the fourth instance, our members provided the legislator the information he needed to defend pro-gun attitudes and votes. And he's voted with the good guys once again.
It is examples like this that GSL and the NRA would like to replicate. Guns Save Life is partnering with the NRA's new Grassroots Field Representative to offer some seminars across Illinois. We plan to share some proven strategies for constituents to build relationships and influence their legislators. We want to make you a resource that your legislator can call upon for facts about guns, gun laws, and gun ownership. Heaven knows there's plenty of misinformation out there.
The ISRA also deserves a pat on the back. Last night, at the ISRA informational meeting in Springfield, Bill Potts intrudoced a new "Site Project" where he secures meetings with elected officials and local constituents. He then joins in as appropriate to educate the politician or answer questions. That's a laudable and worthy program as well and if you contact the ISRA's office, they can probably help you do this will Bill in your district!
4. Getting active helping our friends.
The NRA and GSL both have plans to help folks become helpful in the campaigns of gun-friendly legislators. Especially those facing still challenges from anti-gun opponents. We will promote and advertise seminars for gun owners on how to be great campaign workers. These events may also be tied to the "constituent lobbyist" seminars. Stay tuned.
5. Making an example of Republicans who stab us in the back.
Candidates who campaign as pro-gun but then stab gun owners in the back on important votes annoy us. These Quislings may have anti-gun opponents, but again, we must let these politicians know that voting against gun owners carries a substantial penalty.
Take Representative Peter Breen.
IL Representative Peter Breen: He says he’s pro-gun, just like Barack Obama.
Representative Peter Breen (R – 48th / DuPage County) campaigned for State Representative by writing: “I strongly support the Second Amendment’s guarantee of every American’s right to keep and bear arms. I also support the application of the Second Amendment for the benefit of those who wish to concealed carry.”
In fact he received a 93% rating from the National Rifle Association in 2016. (NRA-PVF, VoteSmart.org)
Not this year though.
This spring, he decided to apply the Barack Obama standard of supporting the Second Amendment.
…Yes, when gun owners needed Peter Breen to strongly support the Second Amendment, he was busy voting with Michael Madigan and Barbara Flynn Currie to strip you of your gun rights. Nice turncoat, right?
Voters in Peter Breen's district in DuPage County have a choice: They can vote for Peter Breen who votes against gun rights on key votes…
Or they can vote for his opponent Terra Costa Howard…
Now, Terra may or may not vote against us on key votes. Either way, if Peter Breen finds himself unemployed, we'll have another opportunity in two years to hold Ms. Costa Howard accountable if she votes against gun rights.
Yes, just because you're a Republican like Peter Breen, you don't get a free pass from gun owners come election time just because your opponent might vote anti-gun.
Oh yeah, and just wait until the rabidly anti-gun Republican Chris Nybo is up for election in 2020. We're going to have lots of fun with him.
So, there you have it.
Don't sit on the couch pouting that all hope is lost. That's what Bloomberg and Michael Madigan want you to do.
Instead, get up, get engaged, and find a niche where you can help us either in this upcoming election or in lobbying your elected official, in person. We're going to have fun and we are happy to share the fun and excitement.
You can reach me at jboch@gunssavelife or the NRA liaison John Weber at Jweber@nrahq.org.