by Dominic Visione
If you hang around cops enough (in a social setting, not while in custody) you may hear them refer to a colleague as an “empty holster.”

Empty holsters are typically officers who are assigned to an administrative job, i.e, driving a desk instead of working patrol or investigations. Sometimes people drive a desk while they recover from an injury. Other times it’s because their supervisors have identified them as screw-ups or serious… underachievers.

Sadly, too many gun owners could be described as empty holsters when it comes to protecting and preserving their self-defense rights. Not only do they not avail themselves to carrying as often as the law allows, but they also could be described as underachievers when it comes to defending their gun ownership rights.

They have the potential for great things, but need motivation. These people may think their lives are too busy to get involved. Or that “my ____ won’t matter,” they say of their vote, phone call, letter, attendance at a rally, coming out to a grassroots meeting… the list goes on and on.

Again, they have potential. After all, they own guns for self-defense or recreational reasons. Some may even embrace the gun culture. Almost all of them will get riled up if you talk about confiscating their guns.

And sometimes getting riled up and angry as hell is what it takes to get them to rise from their slumber.

In Illinois, we have about 2.3 million residents have a FOID card in their pocket. Even if we factor out FOID-holding minors like Mr. Boch’s year-old twin boys, that still leaves two million plus gun owner voters.

Last year at IGOLD, we had a relatively good attendance – maybe as many as 10,000 people. Sadly that comprises only about one half of one percent of gun owners.

Virginia: A canary in the coal mine.
Politically our state shares a lot of similarities with Virginia. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably seen or heard about how gun control advocates there won the tiniest of majorities in Virginia’s elections last fall thanks to gun owner indifference to activism. With a voter turnout of about 40%, the progressive gun grabbers won a number of races. Now they take their 50.1% win as some sort of mandate from the mountaintop to wage a jihad against guns.

Now, Virginia’s gun owners have awoken in a very bad place. They have a radically anti-gun blue legislature and a radically anti-gun blue governor. Add the two together and you get a gun owner’s worst nightmare.

Not only does the same formula potentially exist in Illinois, but some might argue it’s worse.

Our salvation here in the Land of Lincoln comes from groups like Guns Save Life and others working together with the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action to push back. Behind these organizations stand a few thousand gun owner activists that hold politicians’ feet to the fire.

But we’ve still had some big losses: the Red Flag law passed, as did a three-day wait for all firearm purchases. The gun dealer licensing scheme has proven devastating to so many of our state’s gun dealers. Know any FFLs who quit? I bet you do.

There is more to being a gun owner than decals on your truck or patriotic ball caps & t-shirts.

You have to show up and stay engaged. It’s a numbers game folks, plain and simple.

When the Bloomberg’s astroturf moms trickle into Springfield to “Demand Action,” legislators take note. They also sit up and take note of the big money Mini-Mike brings to campaigns.

Gun owners, on the other hand, have proven themselves as voters who actually vote. Assuming the gun peeps are educated and engaged, that is.

As such, if we don’t show up in numbers that dwarf moms in Springfield, then politicians on the fence could rightfully believe that gun owners really don’t care about the bills under consideration and – more importantly – won’t hold politicians accountable if that politician votes for it.

So make plans. Go to IGOLD, period. Even if you have to spend a few bucks for someone to babysit the kids or let the dog out, it will be worth it and you’ll thank yourself later.

How much do you value your civil rights? Or the ability to defend your family?

From left, Roy Hill, Brownell’s Customer Relations Specialist, Pete Brownell, CEO, Your lovable Lawdog Nick Visione.

Having tens of thousands of gun owners show up for IGOLD would likely doom any gun control bills for the rest of this session.

So just do it. More than once, the IGOLD event has proven invaluable in killing gun control measures poised to pass.

When it comes to gun rights activism, don’t be all hat and no cattle.

I cannot emphasize enough how much your attendance matters at this point in our history. Our right to bear arms may not come back until the cows come home, and if the worst happens, you will be waiting there with an empty holster.