Continuing the Debate on NRA's Gun Prohibitionism
Tactical PR Failed:
Continuing the Debate on NRA's Gun Prohibitionism
by Angel Shamaya
April 11, 2002
Jim March's rebuttal to recent criticisms of
some of the National Rifle Association's "tactical PR" was friendly,
considerate, respectful and gentle. That's my friend Jim March -- I doubt
the man has a mean bone in his whole body.
But kindness and civility doesn't make a fellow
right. And we definitely see things differently.
Thank goodness someone finally wants to
publicly debate a few NRA issues.
Part 1 - The Video
Jim March said:
"IF the NRA had openly called for resistance to bad laws, it would have been banned from the airwaves."
I'm not sure where that belief comes from; Martin Luther
King, Jr. announced a Civil Disobedience Campaign in July of 1962 -- after being
arrested and sentenced to 45 days hard labor in prison for standing on righteous
principle. His call was broadcast all over the country, so much so that it brought heat down
on him from the Justice Department. Result: people sympathetic to his cause were
fired into action, and his campaign to end racial intolerance moved forward,
ultimately to succeed.
Just the opposite is
true: If the NRA "openly called for resistance" to gun bans -- instead
of calling for their zero tolerance enforcement and helping people scurry to
comply -- every newspaper, radio
program, television reporter and gun owner in America would hear about it, and
talk about it, within 24 hours. Their membership would surge forward, too;
people'd say, "Someone over at NRA-HQ finally sprouted some courage,"
and they'd write them a check for the coming court battles and for showing some
politically-incorrect spine -- and so would I.
But I never said NRA should "openly
call for resistance to bad laws"; I said that they should not call
for compliance with gun bans, that they shouldn't be spending members' monies
saying any honest gun owner would turn in banned guns, and that I find their
"from my cold dead hands"/"any honest gunowner would turn them in
to the police" dichotomy to be forked-tongue confusing and absolutely
hypocritical. BIG difference.
And I honestly do not expect the NRA to call
for disobedience to gun bans (for many reasons). But I sure do expect them not
to side with the
gun banners or help the gun banners by shaming gun owners into turning in
their militia rifles. NRA can at least stay neutral on whether or not people
choose to comply. That much I do expect, and so should you. And if you don't
think they did that -- shamed gunowners into turning in their guns -- you aren't paying attention, nor do you understand human
psychology very well. According to Jim March, the NRA's video "got massive play"
in the most populous state in America -- the bellweather state for gun
prohibition. Every gun owner who watched the televised message heard that any
honest gun owner would turn in banned guns to the police -- from the lips of
a group many people sadly believe to be Gun
Rights Gods. Translation: if you don't turn your banned guns in to the police,
you're not honest, and being dishonest is bad,
so be a good little serf and run on down to the nice policeman and give him your militia rifle.
Jim March said:
"Chuck Michel's role in the specific turn-in mentioned was to make sure Bill Doss was in position to counter-sue, and/or do a successful defense in court."
And now that the California Supreme Court and the Governor
and the Attorney General have all made it clear -- in their dishonest,
historically-bankrupt opinions -- that there is no individual right to keep and bear
arms in the state, where is the NRA's retraction? Or correction? The video was
made over two years ago, but they are still featuring it on their website it to this day.
With the multiple millions of dollars NRA is raking in, they can change that
statement, output a new internet video and not even realize the loss of revenue.
Other than marketing and membership drives,
what good came from Bill Doss' gun being escorted to the police by NRA attorney
Chuck Michel? Jim March says:
"Finally, 'our side' got something else out of the Doss case: an obvious victim."
Now we all know that California's anti-RKBA laws are
really bad -- extra atrocious? News Flash: California's gun laws were illegal and
grossly overbearing long before Bill Doss moved in -- and they've only gotten
worse. And NRA says to enforce imprisonment for exercising the basic rights
they allegedly defend. If escorting a banned gun in to the police was supposed
to change things in the state, where are the results? Since their video aired in
California, gun restrictions have only increased.
Look at any court docket -- any one in many
areas of the state of California and throughout the nation, on any given week -- and you'll find a victim
of illegal, NRA-endorsed gun law enforcement. "An" obvious victim?
There were thousands of obvious victims before Bill Doss moved to
California. Are we to believe Bill Doss was the first one that the NRA found out
about? Or shall we be honest and say he was a good fundraising poster boy? (I
have nothing against fundraising and wish we knew how to do it as we have
several more projects we could be doing -- I just don't like seeing gun owners pay the NRA to create and
broadcast expensive videos saying any honest gun owners will turn in banned guns
to the police. It's a "proper use of money intended for liberty"
issue. Put 4 Million members under GOA and the non-NRA state groups and NRA will
become irrelevant in the legislatures -- so they can go back to being shooting
sports advocates, which they do exceedingly well, while patriots carry the water
that is obviously far too heavy for them.)
Jim March said:
"They already knew Doss had the gun, 'refusing to turn it
in' would have just landed him far more jail time and NO chance of a defense or counter-attack."
That's fine for Doss -- he can turn in all
of his guns if it pleases him. But NRA saying ANY honest gun owner would
turn banned guns in to the police is an entirely different matter.
Then Jim said:
"Do we WANT victims such as Doss? No! But when we get 'em, it's critical to make sure we publicize it in exactly the fashion the NRA did in that video."
Publicizing gunowner persecution is extremely
valuable. It helps wake more people up to the "zero tolerance" abuse
of rights and activates a few more sleepyheads. But saying any honest gun
owner would turn banned guns in to the police is not quite the same as
"publicizing" the abuse of one gunowner. Going back to the black civil
rights movement, a quick search through history books shows you civil rights
organizations reporting the persecution of blacks with resounding PR success as
a result. But you won't find any true
black civil rights organization telling black people that if they are honest
they'll sit on the back of the bus like good little slaves -- that would've
been absurd and even traitorous to their cause.
And Dr. King certainly wouldn't have told his people to obey evil laws; he told
them just the opposite, in his letter from the Birmingham jail.
Jim March said, "per Angel, the message wasn’t 'pure' enough," but that's not it -- the message
was not TRUE. Honesty of the highest caliber is not dependent on the
edicts of the State; it's dependent on the dictates of your own moral compass.
There is nothing dishonest about disobeying an evil law, but there is something
completely unAmerican about telling millions of gunowners -- "any honest
gunowner" -- to turn a banned gun in to the police. Hash their
statements any way you please; that is what they said.
If Bill Doss' self-honesty pressed him to turn
in a gun -- his buck stopped to the empowerment of the police state -- that's
his prerogative. And I am not laying a judgment on Bill Doss' decision,
either. I haven't walked a mile in Mr. Doss' moccasins; what he does with his
guns is none of my business.
The NRA, on the other hand, promotes itself as
a defender of the Second Amendment while saying any honest gun owner
in banned guns -- but they also give us this "from my cold dead hands"
gaga. It's phony doublespeak. The Liberty of this nation rests on mandatory, soul-searching, unwincing
honesty and alignment with our fundamental rights. Two-timing both sides of the
tough issues is for slippery politicians whose motives absolutely must come into
question -- serving two masters faithfully is impossible. Either you support gun
bans or you oppose them; the middle ground alleged to exist exists solely for
those whose moral compasses are broken or whose backs are too weak to support a
stand. You're in, or you're out. Black/white, yes/no, good/bad, right/wrong.
Period. I expect "My NRA" to talk straight.
If and when they don't, people who care about freedom need to expose their two
faces and press for alignment.
Jim March opened with:
"Both cases share a common theme: the NRA's main targeted audience in both situations was the
'general public' versus 'committed gunnies'."
If that was the intention, the result is still
unsettling. NRA told the general public that any honest gun owner would turn
banned guns in. That is not only untrue, it's not smart. With that kind of
appeasement being promoted out to the general public, it's open season on gun
rights -- and they did it in one of a handful of states where Gunowner Season
has been a yearlong event for over a decade. "Look at these extremists," our adversaries can say,
"even the NRA says to turn in banned guns." In essence, by making
statements like this to the general public, the NRA pits anti-gunners against
real patriots who find the NRA softline intolerable.
Rights-encroaching civil authority is supposed
to be afraid of an armed citizenry, not empowered by "our side" to
Part 2 - Heston's Remarks
1997 Heston -- NRA's Gun Prohibitionist
In his defense of the 1997 interview where NRA
Heston said "AK-47s are entirely inappropriate for
private ownership," Jim March said:
"I think it likely [Heston] hadn't thought those issues through well."
and that Mr. Heston might have been "really ignorant"
(a massive understatement).
Then what was this actor doing on the NRA Board
(other than an amazing amount of damage to our cause and some healthy
fundraising)? What kind of major malfunction at NRA-HQ would put a gun banner in
such an important position? For historical reference, people ignorant to how Charlton
Heston got on the NRA Board are encouraged to understand one thing: he
didn't get there because he was a strong RKBA patriot (obviously, as he was for
banning guns from private ownership and getting the "radicals" out of
NRA); he got there because of his name recognition -- same reason Bill Cosby got
the job selling Jello Pudding, only the Liberty of the greatest nation on Earth
is at stake.
NRA apparently thinks, or thought:
- "Gun owners are sheep to be marketed
- "We can train an actor to play the role
of a patriot, and people will buy it."
Such respect from "My NRA", eh?
Fearless defenders of freedom, right?
And after Heston supported gun prohibition on a
widely attended California radio program, NRA didn't fire him and ship him out
on the first train; they released a transparent list of phony excuses for his
transgression, further insulting the intelligence of any gunowner with more than
3% of his brain in gear. Anyone who reads the 1997
Heston interview and then his response to Colonel Brown and buys Heston's
inauthentic excuses for supporting gun bans has proven the NRA's two above
messages to be correct.
2002 Heston -- NRA's Hoplophobic President
In response to NRA's President recently saying
that militia guns make him
nervous, again on a large California radio station,
Jim March says Heston's hoplophobic comments were "better
thought-out" and "more sophisticated" than the 1997 Gun
Prohibitionist's message. And it's technically true that it's better to have
NRA's President expressing fear of guns than it was to have him supporting gun
But why, after several years, do we still get
hoplophobia from the NRA's frontman? ("Hoplophobia" is Colonel Jeff
Cooper's term for someone with an irrational fear of guns.) And if Heston isn't
really afraid of guns, what possible good could come out of him lying that he
is? All that does is reinforce other people's fear of guns, and in some cases installs
gunfear into the minds of trusting gunowners who've been subjected to anti-gun
Californiaisms for years. Scary means bad, bad means wrong,
and wrong means ban. So, in essence, the gun ban message is still there -- especially
for the less educated gunowners who heard the interview.
Jim March labeled Heston's "nervous about
guns" comments as merely "deflect[ing] an
objection." Says March,
"The host's paranoia about 'assault
weapons' (which are no such thing, we all know that) is very common."
But the host of the April 2, 2002 interview was
Larry Elder -- a staunch Second Amendment advocate -- not a paranoid anti-gunner
as was the case in 1997. And
the caller to whom he was responding was saying he'd like to own an AK-47
when Heston made his comment. (That fact didn't make my first
report as I was hoping to have a transcript. KABC-AM in Los Angeles has
denied me a transcript, so we'll have to go on the word of a listener and the
word of the NRA-friendly host.)
Heston CREATED the objection. Fear of AK-47s
was brought up by him.
Finally, Jim March closes his rebuttal as
follows. I've added emphasis to the parts I'd most like to address:
"What do y'all think the goal should be in a media opportunity such as Heston had at that radio station? In my mind, a
'general good impression' to the public is first, trying to stir up additional activists out of the ranks of
apathetic gun owners second, appeasing us 'hardcore gunnie types' a distant third.
"Decision time: we have to decide whether or not to
be effective, or to be 'ideologically pure'. Even if you personally prefer the
'pure' route, at least realize that there's another point of view, and don't automatically attack allies when they do the
"Both of these PR incidents that Angel complained about were highly
The goal in a media opportunity should be
education, forthright communication, and promotion of the true meaning of the
Second Amendment. It should also be to wipe away irrational fears of guns -- not
to create more of them.
If leaving the impression that some guns are
scary is good, I don't want to see what a bad impression from
NRA's current President might be.
How are additional activists going to get
stirred up by hearing the NRA's lead guy say that guns are scary? How are
"apathetic gun owners" going to be inspired by hearing that their
"fearless leader" finds guns to be nerve-racking?
The belief that maintaining ideological
(principle) purity and being effective cannot happen together is a lie promoted
by gun prohibitionists and soft-shelled sportsmen. Our aggressors want us
to believe that you cannot be effective and stand on principles.
"Moderation!" some among us will preach, "so you don't appear too
extreme!" And NRA wants you to believe that too -- it's been their favorite
excuse for compromising your rights into non-existence "since
And I am not "attacking allies," I'm
defending liberty from "allies." BIG difference.
Million Dollar Question for Charlton Hoplophobe Heston:
If the AK-47 makes you nervous, does the
.50BMG rifle also make you nervous? Just curious; your home state is trying to
ban those too, and I think a few NRA supporters in California might like to
know where you stand. Between makeup sessions, perhaps you can find the time
to read the words of these California men who live outside your
community. While you are busying yourself being publicly afraid of guns, they
have legitimate fear that armed state agents will come and try to take their
"scary" guns by force:
BAN A DANGEROUS PRECEDENT...SO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
Against Gun Owners, Civil Disobedience, and Killing
I Will Not Obey California's Gun Registration Edict
Caliber "Come And Take It" Flag