The Illinois State Rifle Association’s IGOLD event – Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day – saw weak attendance and energy on Wednesday.  While estimates of attendance ranged from a couple of hundred on the low end to 3,000, all but one reported a few hundred – to be generous.  Our pro-gun elected friends pretty much universally reported that “disappointing” was the overall adjective that best described this year’s event. 

Yes, our pro-gun legislators enjoyed interfacing with gun owners and friends from their districts and beyond, it still wasn’t what it was ten or twelve years ago.

GSL’s Chicagoland Regional Director Alfreda Keith Keller with Dale Lock, GSL’s Immediate Past President.
GSL’s Alfreda Keith Keller with Crete Gun Club President (and GSL Director) Howard Kaye.

Several members of Guns Save Life’s leadership team were there today even though this wasn’t a Guns Save Life event.  We certainly publicized it though, both in GunNews and online (here and here).  

GSL’s Alfreda Keith Keller with the immortal Rhonda Ezell. Rhonda’s legal challenges to Chicago’s ban on gun shops (?) and shooting ranges had led to some great 2nd Amendment legal precedents long before the Bruen decision came down last summer. Her case and the legal precedents it established are mentioned in our current day lawsuits and the lawsuits of other pro-gun groups.

Here’s the good news:  we know that we’re not going to stop bad bills in the Illinois General Assembly even if we had ten thousand gun owners show up day after day for weeks.   A disappointing day isn’t going to kill our cause. 

Let’s face it:  If the Black Caucus wants more gun control, they can pass it in an afternoon if they want.  The Black Caucus effectively runs the Illinois House and for all intents and purposes it has great control over the Senate as well.

Thank heavens we have the courts or it would be time to consider listing your home, packing your bags and moving to a free state.

As for IGOLD 2023…  constructive criticism.

Candidly, the ISRA committed a number of unforced errors in IGOLD 2023.

First, they branded this as the ISRA’s event instead of a cooperative between all of the gun rights groups in Illinois.  Instead of a banner touting IGOLD up front, they hung a giant ISRA banner.  Which is fine as they paid the bill.  At the same time it doesn’t exactly inspire “ownership” among the other organizations.

In fairness they allowed GSL volunteers to distribute GunNews to a couple of hundred people as attendees entered the Bank of Springfield Center and we thank them for that.  Passing out GunNews gave those folks something to read while the speakers preached to the choir.

Secondly, they had to know the attendance would be weak again this year.  It hasn’t been in the multi-thousands since roughly 2013 when Illinois was on the cusp of right to carry.  Why rent a place that holds 13,000+ people comfortably when you expect a thousand on a good day?  Why not rent a facility that holds 500-600, and fill the place to the rafters and show a crowded venue ahead of a march to the capitol building?

Thirdly, I don’t have the agenda for speakers but I knew GSL wasn’t invited to speak.  Again, that’s okay.  It’s not personal or sour grapes.  There is no open animus between the ISRA and GSL, folks.  In fact, I’d just about bet we could have gotten a speaking slot if we had asked.

But it wasn’t just asking reps from the larger gun rights groups to deliver a few words that was missing.  I don’t believe the state’s biggest shooting club (with upwards of 3,000 members) got an invite to say a few words either (the Aurora Sportsman’s Club).  Want to know who else was conspicuously absent?  John Weber, the NRA-ILA’s point man on Illinois.  The NRA-ILA does have resources and those initials still cause many pols to piddle themselves on a bad day and irritate them on a good day.  And the NRA is still the state’s biggest gun group in both numbers and influence.  We’ll conceded the number two position to ISRA…  for now, at least in numbers and probably in influence as well.  Although GSL has come a long way and is catching up pretty rapidly.

Why not invite as many groups as possible to talk for five or ten minutes?

Just food for thought for next year.  There’s no need to spend ten thousand (or twenty thousand) dollars to commit unforced errors.  You can do that for free.

The good news:  Illinois should look a lot different in 2024.  Hopefully all the groups can partner together to drive a better turn out than a few hundred folks for IGOLD 2024.  Assuming there is such an animal.

13 thoughts on “ISRA’s IGOLD 2023 event…”
  1. I see no value in wasting any time with the General Assembly anymore. It would seem most other gun owners see the futility of the exercise as well. We are ruled from Shitcago. Illinois Republicans are feckless and weak – many are barely distinguishable from the communist scum from Cook County these days. They mumble their pathetic platitudes to us, and then stab us in the back while doing nothing at all. At least Democrats have the courage to look you in the eye while shivving you.
    There is no representation for anyone outside of Crook County in this state, and there hasn’t been for a LONG time. We have shall issue CCL and our other rights because of the Federal courts – period. Illinois only relented after they saw the way SCOTUS was moving, and decided to embrace the inevitable. It would have never happened in the GA, where we are far more concerned with the rights of criminals, transgender freaks, ovulating males who need feminine hygiene products, and a host of far more important issues than defending the Constitution.
    Whether I stay in this state after I retire in the next couple of years will be decided by the success or failure in the Federal courts of our gun rights. I loathe the politics here, and am sick of being lorded over by low-IQ trash that couldn’t survive outside of government ‘work’ or slinging dope on a Chicago street corner.
    As far as NRA is concerned, they are a deeply corrupt organization that no longer commands the power they once did. You can thank one Wayne Lapierre for this. My contributions to NRA dried up years ago, because I grew weary of paying for Wayne’s twice daily mani-pedis on my dime. I say that as an NRA Benefactor Member. My dollars today go to GOA, who actually seems to use them to defend our rights. People are free to spend their dollars any way they choose, but NRA won’t see another of mine until they shed that snake LaPierre.

    1. My general thoughts as well. After reading about the hearings they had before passing the gun grab bill where the pro 2A people were speaking and the members of the ‘fro caucus were sitting there yakking to each other or just playing around on their phones, it told me all I needed to know. They just laugh at us rubes while passing dictates. Wasn’t much different with the plandemic. I’m sure they were laughing amongst themselves while members of IGOLD perused the capitol. If it were solely up to me, I’d have been gone from Illannoy some time ago. However, I’m not the only one involved.

    2. I AGREE 100%! if the Anti- Gun Laws Go thru from DICTATOR PRITZKER – We will see an UPRISING! And if I can Convince The Wife to Move ( to a Constitutional State) We Will! Illinois govt is totally corrupt = will never change. Too many Liberals In high Places! who are Wealthy!

  2. I think that the day the FOID card gets overturned then gun owners should get together on Springfield and have a mass clipping event and and senators and give their cut up cards to the representatives and give most of them a raspberry to boot for sticking up for the unconstitutional BS.
    That day would be glorious

    1. Actually, I think a fire would be better, akin to the bra burning of years ago.

  3. “We have shall issue CCL and our other rights because of the Federal courts – period.” Amen, brother. Preach it!

    “My general thoughts as well. After reading about the hearings they had before passing the gun grab bill where the pro 2A people were speaking and the members of the ‘fro caucus were sitting there yakking to each other or just playing around on their phones, it told me all I needed to know. They just laugh at us rubes while passing dictates.” Amen. These clowns running our state couldn’t give a damn about gun owners. We’re their bogeyman (bogeymen) for their f*cked up soft-on-crime policies that reward layabouts while penalizing the productive class at every turn.

    This was about the fifth year I have not gone. I’ve only been once since Valinda Rowe’s husband man-handled GSL’s Vice-President and her family during the IGOLD march. Yeah, I have a long memory.

  4. IGOLD is a waste of time and resources. Our only avenue for change is the courts. The AWB is not about crime, if it was, they wound ban handguns instead of rifles.

  5. Should anyone be shocked at the lame turnout. Most gun owners in Illinois know that lobbying the legislature is a waste of time. John, you’ve written before that IGOLD is not all that effective. I can’t blame the NRA for not coming out. They would meet with more gun owners visiting two or three GSL meetings than going to IGOLD. If Chicago didn’t have a death grip on politics thanks to the feckless eGOP it *might* be worthwhile to go.

    If it was about crime, the state would send criminals to prison after trial. And they would hold those criminals on high bail to insure the safety of families and the community until they could be tried. And The prosecutors must prosecute!

  6. ISRA owns that crowd… or lack thereof. They’re still stuck in the old way of doing things that doesn’t work today. But what do you expect from Richard Pearson their 80 year old leader.

  7. We no longer have a representative government. We have orchestrated tyranny. No other way to explain it. I would say it started at the executive level. But it really started at the Shitago and Crook County level. Governor Big Boy with deep pockets. Has cemented what we knew all along. With enough money. You wrest the power from the people. It may not be apparent to some. But the war on our American way of life started a long time ago.

  8. Times have changed and the ISRA might want to think about re-tooling their annual event, not to mention bringing in some new, younger, leaders. Pearson has served his time, but his leadership is not keeping up with the times. He needs to go. I and many others have been very disappointed in the way they’ve “handled” issues at the state level for the past few years and when jokes are made about the Fudds in the community, the ISRA is exactly what comes to mind.

  9. When asked about the IGOLD event, Fat Boy responded that gun owners have a right to be heard. Isn’t that just so generous of him? What he forgot to add was “but we’ll ignore them.”

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