As the White House and anti-gun groups link arms and move to cram legislation down the throats of gun owners across the nation, it is long past time for gun owners to believe the ultimate goal isn't a total gun ban.
Before you think "there's no one saying they want to take away my hunting rifle or my shotgun" consider the fact that one town has already passed a ban on all
semi-automatic firearms and removeable magazines. Similar proposals are coming up in other municipalities. It's unreasonable to believe others won't join in.
Regardless of what happens in Washington, gun rights are already under attack.
But there's one weekend "win" to recognize. On Friday, anti-gun legislators in Illinois failed to get an assault weapons ban into consideration in the Senate. On Saturday, they tried to get the ban added to an amendment before the House Judiciary Committee. A Sunday afternoon hearing lasted less than two minutes-with no action.
Legislators said there was no message to take away from the lack of action-the legislation wasn't ready. Pro-gun supporters say they'll be "back like a bad nightmare" should the legislature try again.
Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden may have repeated his habit of saying too much after telling the Washington Post the administration is considering "all options" available to the administration - and means to take some actions ASAP.
According to Biden, reinstutition of the "assault weapon ban" won't be enough. The administration wants to expand the ATF's authority to track the movement and sale of all guns via a national database, strengthen mental health checks (and expand categories for disqualification), and stiffen penalties for carrying guns near schools.
Biden says doing "something" means using every tool in the administration's considerable arsenal. Including end-running Congress if possible. Those ATF and mental health changes don't require Congressional approval- they can be done via executive order.
And don't overlook misdirection. After all, the 1994 assault weapon ban wasn't a "ban".
It was "The Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act." While the modern sporting rifle was the target, staffers realized singling out a single class of firearms for elimination might not fly, so they gave it a benign name and created Appendix A.
Appendix A was a lengthy listing of firearms not covered by the legislation. Listing hundreds of unaffected guns gave supporters a push-back against the NRA and other opposition to the measure. It gave swing legislators a way to say they weren't trying to protect people, not outlaw sporting firearms. It worked
Today, anti-gun groups are saying we're being unreasonable, turning a blind eye to the weapon of choice for crazies.
So how do we overcome that sort of misdirection? It takes each of us getting on the phone, writing letters and talking to elected officials at the local, state and national level.
You can give them some things to consider.
1) Appeal to their own self interest- remind them you're not just a law-abiding gun owner, you're one of their constituents and you will not forget how they vote on this issue.
2) Remind them that the modern sporting rifle is this generation's equivalent of the lever-action repeating rifle of the 1800s or the bolt action Mausers and Springfields of World War I and II. It is the rifle today's returning soldiers use for recreational purposes because it's the rifle they know inside and out.
3) Offer this fact.....The Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994 did absolutely nothing to reduce crime. When it expired in 2004, crime didn't spike. The National Academy of Sciences studied U.S. gun laws and reported it could find no
links on restrictions of gun ownership and lowered crime rates, firearms violence or even accidents with guns.
4) Gun ownership has increased steadily for most of the past twenty years- and violent crime and murder has dropped -almost by half.
5) The change that has worked -repeatedly - is the removal of prohibitions against individuals carrying guns for personal protection. Criminals and crazies prefer gun-free zones, not places where individuals aren't easy pickings.
(Above) The Sieverts family at a 1996 Glock Shooting Sports Foundation Match in Alpine, California. (Below) the Seivert family last October at a Gunsite Alumni Shoot. All grownup, they're "perpetual students of all things safety and self-defense". They're also normal, productive adults who happen to be responsible gun owners.
And don't forget that the proof is in the pudding: Chicago and Washington, DC are the poster cities for anti-gun legislation. Compare their crime rates with your town. Encourage your officials not to be swayed by emotional rhetoric when the facts don't support anti-gun arguments.
Over the past few days many of you have encouraged us to keep you posted on what's happening and offer suggestions on how to talk with your friends and neighbors.
With permission, here's one good example.
Since the 1990s, Ken Sieverts has enjoyed shooting handguns. He shoots them recreationally and has competed in a variety of IDPA, IPSC and GSSF matches over the years. His wife, Robin, took up shooting, and they taught their kids how to be safe around firearms. They also became enthusiastic shooters.
Today, Ken's a VP of sales and marketing for a corporation, his wife's a paralegal at a hospital health network, and his sons are a controller and an ER tech.
Ken says he flew 85 times last year and each time he sat near a wide variety of people. He also reads shooting magazines when he travels. And, he says, "once they see what I'm reading, the conversation starts."
He says he doesn't look to convert anyone, just be a soft-spoken, reasonable guy who happens to enjoy responsibly owning and shooting guns.
Ken's not an exception, he's a member of the vast majority of law-abiding, responsible gun owners across the nation.
If he can do it, so can- and should - we.