What I wrote in yesterday's edition of The Outdoor Wire has generated a large number of responses from readers. More than a few of you have provided your suggestions for things that each of us can do - as individuals- to let Washington know that we're not going to sit quietly as anti-gun groups use a tragedy to cram more gun restrictions down the throats of law-abiding gun owners.
Every response we received (and there were plenty of them) was courteous and either agreed with, or respectfully disagreed with my contention that it would take the actions of each and every one of us to prevent the passage of new, and unnecessary, gun laws. Those responses have reinforced my position that gun owners aren't a bunch of far-fringe extremists incapable of carrying on something that's apparently impossible in Washington: civil discourse.
Today, I'm going to share some good news, a few of your suggestions, and let you in on a plan that's in the works to help provide each of us with a strategy to let Washington know we're not going to budge on our position. It will also help innoculate our legislators against the massive amounts of misinformation they get from anti-gun groups.
The most immediate bit of news is that Illinois legislators who announced they were going to pass two pieces of legislation that would effectively ban all semi-automatic rifles or handguns and "high capacity magazines" in the state appear to have over-stated their support.
The Illinois Senate adjourned yesterday without voting on that legislation. It's described as a "setback for gun-control advocates" and indicates that there are some in the Illinois General Assembly that aren't buying into the assertion that the gun is responsible for the action of the person using it.
These bills are not dead, and could be resurrected as early as next week. In the spirit of giving credit where due, the legislation to ban possession, delivery, sale or distribution of semi-automatic firearms (unless you registered the ones you already owned with the state police) was sponsored by Sen. Antonio Munoz (D-Chicago). The bill limiting of ammunition magazines to 10 or fewer rounds was introduced by Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge).
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has pushed for a ban on "assault-style weapons" and his spokesperson has suggested action could come "later this spring".
Gun manufacturers in Illinois have made it clear that legislation like they've suggested will cost the state jobs. I'm also hearing more than one company has said they will simply relocate should this kind of restrictive legislation be passed. As I wrote yesterday, jobs and the impact on people is seldom considered in anti-gun legislation.
And late yesterday afternoon, word that a "March on Washington for GUN CONTROL" is in the works for Saturday, January 26, 2013. The goals of the march are: "...reinstate the assault weapons ban, ban high capacity ammunition magazines and require background checks for all guns. We want Congress to enforce a 28 day waiting period, require mandatory safety training before the purchase of a gun, and outlaw bullets that shatter in the body."
It is, organizers say "A public safety issue." I respectfully submit it's not about guns, it's about control.
And the pro-gun community isn't sitting idly by. Word yesterday that a national coaliton of state and national organizations has formed the "National Coalition to Stop the Gun Ban". Their objective is pretty simple: stop anti-gun proposals. Period. It is not "compromise" by accepting restrictions and then - quoting them - "whining that it was the best we could get." Their position is that nothing less than the complete defeat of the Obama/Biden/Feinstein proposals will suffice.
National members of the National Coalition to Stop the Gun Ban include: The Firearms Coalition, Gun Owners of America, Rights Watch International, Second Amendment Sisters, USRKBA.org.
State organizations include: Arizona Citizens Defense League, Arkansas Carry, Florida Carry, Inc., Grass Roots North Carolina, Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, Gun Owners of California, Gun Owners of Maine, Gun Owners of Vermont, Michigan Gun Owners, The Minnesota Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, Montana Shooting Sports Association, New Hampshire Firearms Coalition, New Jersey 2nd Amendment Society, Nebraska Firearms Owners Association, Oregon Firearms Federation, Peaceable Texans for Firearms Rights, Shooters Committee on Political Education N.Y. Utah Shooting Sports Council, Virginia Citizens Defense League, West Virginia Citizens Defense League, Western Missouri Shooters Alliance, and Wisconsin Carry, Inc.
You can read their open letter to Congress here
Our readers have stepped forward with their own suggestions as to how we can all help spread the word to Congress that we're not going to accept more bans.
They've included variations on a simple theme: reach out to our elected officials and tell them you're a voter who's not supportive of any gun bans.
Included in the list of elected officials are your local sheriff and your U.S. Representatives and Senators. As Tom Russell of Texas suggested, "have them on your speed dial. Let them get call every day from 80 million gun-owners and they will be leading the pro-gun marches on the Mall."
A great suggestion, Mr. Russell.
Several of our colleagues in the shooting industry are getting together to assemble some strategies and talking points to help all of us stay on-point and deliver our message clearly to all our elected officials.
Work is already underway, and we're on-board with the idea. We know we can count our our readers to do their part to protect all our rights.
As that progresses, as always, we'll keep you posted.