We’ve got a lot of shooting organisations fighting for shooters’ rights
… but who is actually making headway – and what can we learn from them?

The challenge

UNDERSTANDING what shooters’ problems are is easy to do.

We know the media often portrays us in a bad light.  We know most  non-shooters use that information to form the same view – and know politicians are happy to add to that for political gain.

So, how do we tackle this?  How can we not only come up with a strategy to fight these problems, but implement it?

First, the bad news

THE majority of shooters are ordinary people who just want to keep their sport.  Most of us just want to get home from work, have something to eat, go the range and go home.

The problem is they get caught up in a political fight whether they want it or not.  It’s forced upon them.  

Some of us get to the point where we decide we “have to do something”, which can be anything from writing to the papers, to standing for parliament or joining an activists group.

In Australia, we’ve had our own elected to parliament, clearly branded as representing shooters – yet cannot get positive change.

Why?

To us, the answer is simple.  Shooters are auto electricians, managers and bakers by day who try to become politicians or lobbyists.  As with any profession, change doesn’t happen by printing a new business card: it comes through learning the trade. 

Like becoming a panel beater, it takes five years to learn the trade. It takes another ten or so to become good at it.  

What this means is that the many well meaning people who are trying to do the right thing, find themselves in an environment filled with other political people who know how to make the new boys on the block ineffective.

In the case of shooters who become politicians, it means they get spoken to nicely, having meetings with key advisers and ministers – and then get the door shut behind them.

To say to others or post on social media “I had a meeting with the minister”, doesn’t mean anything. It is simply not worth anything.

There is good news – but you need to crack skulls

The experienced political staffer knows that  the new politician probably won’t survive the next election – so if they can string them along for a few years, then they’ll go away. 

That’s what they do.  If they make people like you and me go away, then that’s what they will do. 

Eventually they’ll work their way up to getting a seat in parliament themselves, so its important to understand why shooters in politics are often unable to be successful in what they do.

Compare this to Grass Roots North Carolina.  This group, run by Paul Valone, takes no prisoners.  They are hard to fool and they hit hard. They fight for bills, threaten the careers of politicians who want to do us harm and back politicians who do good for us.

.. and they don’t do it just through a few social media posts. These people contact shooters, have effective calls to actions – and as a result, have secured many, many wins.

If only this could be replicated everywhere else.  In Australia, shooters had an MP called David Leyonhjelm.

He’s one who understood what it took but was just one lone voice out there for shooters in Australia.

Doing the apprenticeship

So if we qualifications and experience matter – where do we find it?  If we can’t find it, how can we grow it?

I am a bureaucrat by trade.  While that is great for dealing with admin stuff like writing articles, the journey of a bereaucrat exposes them to seeing how governments work from the inside.  Then, if you get involved in election campaigns, you get to see how government’s work from the outside.

However nothing beats having years of dealing with politicans and being let down by them.

It’s when you get to the tenth time, that you start to work out that the only thing they value is votes. 

That is the only currency that matters to them. 

Fixing constituents problems and representing electorates is on their list, but their allegience is to the party that got them there and into a job that pays the salary. 

So if that’s their achilles heel, then that’s what you go for.

The playbook I subscribe to is create a credible threat to cut their careers short. 

That’s not a nice thing to say, but for many, it’s the only way you will cut through the tendancy to ‘make you go away’.

Train now

The successes of Grass Roots North Carolina are a signficant comparison to efforts elsewhere. 

Even other organisations in the US that rely on 2A have a solid platform, but are arguably putting all their eggs in the one basket. 

2A may well remain in the Constitution, but what will happen if it doesn’t?  We know that isn’t on the radar, but what if that changes? What is the ‘plan b’? We reckon expanding what we’re seeing in North Carolina is what that plan b needs to be.

In Australia, the largest shooting organisation, the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia, set up an Institute of Legislative Affairs to mirror the NRA-ILA – but it doesn’t do anything other than post some blogs. It’s also hard to find, even on their own website.

What we are seeing here is that with only a couple of exceptions, the pro-shooting movement is woefully under-prepared for the next attack.  I would suggest that the problem isn’t that we don’t know about it, it’s that few know what they can actually be done about it.

That’s why we need to train now.

We need to find the right people with the right skills. The fact they might be subject matter experts in some field – such as hunting or gun collecting – might be good, but it’s not relevant to the challenge – which is political.

This is easier said than done – but find political skills now. Find those, and you might end up finding what you need to build an effective organisation.

So far I haven’t mentioned NZ, UK or Canada.  However I’m not sure if the situation they are facing is that different to Australia – and would welcome your feedback on that.

The rules if you start an organisation

We’ve learnt some rules from experience. Here they are:

  • Make sure you addresss egos from the outset.
  • Make sure your constitution clearly protects your oganisation from power hungry people.
  • Make sure you have enough people on your board and within your membership to be able to deal with those internal challenges that will come up from time to time – and threaten to derail the work you have  done.
  • Document everything. I know it’s a pain, but keep minutes of meetings that show who was there and what was agreed or not agreed. You will need them one day.

That’s why this blog exists: we’re here to see if we can help.

POLITICS RELOADED covering news for shooters in a way that is more directly relevant to shooters across the UK, US, NZ, AU and CA by writing them in ways that are easier to follow. 

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