I recently received an email from a fellow gun owner who has become disillusioned after having fought the good fight for years. In it he wrote,
“…every attempt we make seems to do nothing. I support gun rights groups. They keep asking to fill out petitions and for money. I’ve made a sizable donation to one group recently. Nothing seems to help. Other than petitions and emails (that my reps don’t ever read). What can I do?”
I thought about this email for a while before responding. I know that in order to stop the eventual destruction of the Second Amendment, we have to understand how the “left” has accomplished so many of their progressive goals in this country. We have to understand what most people don’t. The progressives have engaged in a long and well planned campaign, and it started in local government. In order to prevail, we must beat them at their own game. So, after some very careful thought, this is what I wrote in reply to the email:
“I understand precisely how you feel. I grew up in California and have watched it go downhill for decades. At this point, the few conservative voices in Sacramento are drowned out by the overwhelming liberal, and I would say, criminal presence there.
In the short-term, I don’t think there is much we can do legislatively on a state level in California, other than to track votes and to encourage those few legislators who fight for our rights and do their best to defend the Constitution. They get discouraged too. It’s important that we encourage and thank them whenever possible. We should still sign petitions and write emails, but we must not fool ourselves into thinking that we will win the majority of the battles in the California legislature. We won’t, at least not now.
The long-term battles, at least in my opinion, are at the federal and local levels and at the state levels in other states.
The Federal level:
If we cannot win in the legislature, we must win in the courts. This means we must win the presidency for the person who represents the most conservative option available and who can actually win. I’m not sure that our vote in California means much in the Presidential election, since California’s votes are often counted after the electoral college victory has already been won. Still, I will vote for Mr. Trump so as to prevent Hillary from becoming president. Likewise, I will encourage everyone I know in other states to do the same. We have a better chance of stacking the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, with conservative justices under Trump than we will ever have with Clinton. If we allow liberals to fill the courts with activist judges by giving the presidency to Hillary Clinton, we will lose our only short-term way of defeating liberal state legislatures such as the one in California.
At the local level in California and elsewhere:
City council members often run for state legislative positions. Others become mayors or county supervisors before running for state office. It is MUCH easier to elect a conservative city council member than to elect a “conservative” to the state legislature. If city councils start going conservative, soon a new crop of conservative political leaders will be running for state office. Liberals in California understood this decades ago. They started running for local offices where very few people pay attention and even fewer vote. Then they slowly worked their way up to the state legislature, where they now dominate the state. This same approach is being used in other states as I write this. Soon, “Red” states will find their legislatures going “Blue” if they don’t start working at the local levels to elect conservatives now. That sounds frustrating, but here is the silver lining. If it worked for them, it can work for us. We need to update our playbook. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen if we start working on it now.
A conservative city council and mayor can, and sometimes will, buck the state. In the city in which I live we have a very conservative Mayor. I have shared my concerns with him and he has encouraged me to attend the city council meetings. He has even offered to introduce me to the city council members personally after the meeting. He is of the opinion that the city council members will stand up and take notice when they meet me, because I am articulate and because very few people vote for city council. I can have a great amount of influence as a result. Here’s an example of a city council addressing the concealed carry issue in the City of West Covina, which is in Los Angeles County California.
Sheriffs: Your local sheriff is an elected official. Many of the sheriffs in California (and around the country) are relatively conservative politically. The big city sheriffs tend to lean liberal, but not the others. In fact, the California Sheriff Association has a track record of being rather conservative at times. If possible, get to know your local sheriff. If your sheriff is conservative, work to keep that person in office. If your sheriff is a liberal anti-gun politician, help to elect a better sheriff. There have been many instances in which the conservative sheriffs of California and many other states have refused to enforce unconstitutional laws in their counties. We need more sheriffs like that.
Judges: Every city and/or county has local judges. VERY few people vote for judges. That’s how liberal judges who legislate from the bench get elected. Conservative folks won’t take the time to do their homework when it comes to local elections, but liberals do. Local Judges often get appointed to high judicial positions. This, in large part, is how we’ve ended up with a liberal judiciary. As I indicated above, if it worked for them, it can work for us.
Other local public offices: It’s amazing how many local public offices are filled by liberals and how easy it can be to replace them with conservatives. In my area, we recently elected a gun store owner to the local School Board. That may not seem like much, but if you had asked me if electing a gun store owner to a School Board in California was even possible before we did it, I would have said, “no way!” Well… it is possible and we did it. You can too.
At the state level in other states:
Not too long ago, concealed carry was a rare thing in the United States. Today, the vast majority of states issue permits on a “shall issue” basis. Concealed carry swept the country in a relatively short time because of the foundation built by Marion P. Hammer, who spearheaded the concealed carry effort in the state of Florida. Today, there is a movement that is slowly but surely sweeping the country to establish permit-less or constitutional carry state by state. As more states honor the Second Amendment, it becomes harder for the few remaining states, like California, to get away with restricting it. Therefore, what is good for free states like Utah or Arizona, is good for California in the long run. This is one of the many reasons I urge people to join NRA. We can become myopic and view the world as only encompassing the state in which we live. NRA is fighting this battle across the nation and, along with other pro second amendment organizations, they are winning. It may not feel that way in states like California, New York and New Jersey, but it certainly does in free states.
As I said in my video, this fight may not be won for you and me in our lifetimes. Still, the fight will be won. Our job is to keep our perspective and never quite fighting. Thank you again for the note and for fighting the good fight. I’m here and I stand with you!”