Monthly Archives: March 2013

We’re not going to beat gun manufacturers by relying on Congressional goodwill

I’m getting pretty tired of reading stories about “what went wrong after Newtown?” as if every journalist who regularly observes the sausage-making in Washington, DC became naive overnight, and actually believed that the murder of children was going to change the way that congresspeople reacted to the NRA, grassroots lobbying arm for the gun industry.

I wish I wasn’t the cynical person that working in politics for 20 years has made me. 

I am cynical about Congress, but I’m not without hope. And I applaud what Michael Bloomberg is attempting to do with his tv ad campaign, targeting senators, but I’m afraid it’s not going to be enough. 

It’s going to take organizing, folks.

It’s going to need us to build a real, membership-based organization that mobilizes voters. Not just in election years, but all the time. 

It’s going to take real money to pay organizers to start that thing (or to beef up something that already exists in some states). 

It’s going to take time, to build an organization that will be able to stand up to the corporate backers of the NRA. 

We know that the majority of voters are with us, and support things like universal background checks, and a ban on assault weapons, and limiting the size of ammo clips that can be purchased by the general public. We know that there are rank & file NRA members who support those things, who don’t support the profit-driven agenda of the gun industry. But it’s not going to matter, unless someone is organizing those voters to do things. 

Things like voting, yes, of course. But also things like writing letters to the editor, and doing legislative visits with congresspeople, and attending town hall meetings, and making phone calls, and contributing to a PAC that can make contributions to pro-gun-reform candidates. Things that keep the pressure up, day in and day out, so that we don’t have days where the NRA is generating 10,000 calls to legislators, while our side is generating 4. 

We need organizers, on the ground, in swing districts and urban areas and rural places all over this country. We need them to be moving one message, in a coordinated way. We need a national strategy that gets pushed out to the states, and state strategies that rely on local expertise.

The NRA built their onslaught of political clout with the phrase, “I’m the NRA and I vote,” but they didn’t stop at voting. Neither can we.