Eight years of relative peace on the gun-control front under President George W. Bush are coming to an end. People are clearly aware of this fact as evidenced by near- frenzied buying of guns and ammo at gun shows and elsewhere. Although the 2008 Presidential Election certainly didn't turn out as gun owners would have liked, there is no reason to panic. Plus, panicking won't help anyway!
So we all need to take a deep breath and go about the business of protecting the Second Amendment they same way we have been for decades. Although gun owners have not faced the current threats for the last eight years, this is not our first rodeo. We know what must be done, we know how to do it, so let’s get to work. But we must also take the initiative to use new approaches to defending our rights. We must reach out to people who are neither members of the National Rifle Association nor the Brady Campaign [To Ban All Guns]. We need to make a pro-gun ideology truly bipartisan, multi-racial and something upon which both liberals and conservatives agree.
We must also take a very practical approach to showing people that firearms are both useful and fun and while they are to be respected, they need not be feared. In thirty-five years of firearms training, I have come to know that the single biggest reason some people never own guns is that they harbor an irrational fear of the unknown. This is true even if these people are not what we would consider “anti-gun.” On the other hand, many people who own guns don’t use them simply because they are unaware of the shooting activities and locations available in their area.
All this sounds like great theory, but how do we make it a reality? First, we must diligently work to get all gun owners to join the National Rifle Association and its local affiliates. In Texas, this would be the Texas State Rifle Association. This will increase the clout of the NRA in Washington and in state capitols throughout the country. To this end, a new grassroots membership drive called Project One Million: Texas has been launched with the goal of increasing the number of Texas NRA members to one million. More information about the project can be found at www.ProjectOneMillionTexas.com.
To tackle the second prong of reaching people who are neither gun owners nor anti-gun, I have created an education and advocacy organization called Texas CHL Forum, Inc. This is a membership organization that is unusual in that the “target market” for membership is different than the “target market” for its services. In short, the Texas CHL Forum, Inc. will focus on providing educational and training opportunities to people who otherwise would likely never be exposed to firearms and legal issues related to their use, at least not in a positive way. For more information on the mission, goals and activities of Texas CHL Forum, Inc., please click here to read the description in this thread on the TexasCHLforum.com. I will also post an article here on the TexasCHLblog in the next few days.
We also need to make a coordinated effort to get inactive gun owners, or people considering buying their first gun, involved in the shooting sports. While shooting sports includes organized matches shooting under the rules of various sanctioning bodies, it also includes a fun day at the range doing nothing more than “plinking,” or getting self-defense training so one can defend oneself or their family. Every time someone learns that it is safe and fun to shoot anything with a trigger, whether pistol, rifle or shotgun, we have taken one step further to ensuring the longevity of the Second Amendment. So while I am primarily a pistol shooter, it is just as important and satisfying to me when I see new shooters arrive at the shotgun ranges at our shooting club, or pull up at the bench-rest range to do some precision shooting.
To promote shooting, both sport shooting and self-defense shooting, a new project is underway to help clubs and ranges throughout the state attract new people into our respective sports and activities. I can’t give more information at this time, as we will have a planning meeting in January, 2009. When all of the details are worked out, the new project will be announced here on TexasCHLblog.com and on TexasCHLforum.com.
There is no arguing that gun owners and the Second Amendment face significant challenges in the coming four or more years, but don’t waist your energy panicking. Take that energy and put it to good use by joining in one or more of the efforts outlined in the preceding paragraphs. And the very first thing you should do is go to www.ProjectOneMillionTexas.com and get involved in that effort.