Blogging has opened many doors for me, not the least of which is it has motivated me to get more involved in politics, than I probably normally would have. While it does consume a chunk of my time, it also brings benefits as I get involved in things I care about.
Not long ago I had a chance to speak with a local politician in a very casual setting. I was a little concerned about talk of gun legislation coming up this next legislative session and brought up the subject. To my surprise, they displayed a very visible face of annoyance and frustration, and it was explained why.
He's a Republican in the metro area, for him it's rather dangerous to stand up for gun owner rights. In rural Minnesota you can get by with it, in the metro area…you gotta watch your step. And I know he's been a friend to gun owners in the past and has always voted the way I'd like him to. Yet when he contacts gun owners for support in the form of financial assistance or time or whatever, he has gotten virtually nothing. He felt abandoned by a group which he has supported, and continues to support on general principle. Hence, his frustration when I raised the issue of possible further support from him. He seemed to imply that many Republicans felt as he did.
We eventually moved onto other topics, but this topic has bugged me for over a month now. I was rather surprised by his revelation. Most gun-owners are very concerned about their rights, and the NRA has been one of the most active lobbying organizations there is. How can it be such a group of people would turn their backs on those that can best help them?
Like I said, it's bugged me for awhile. I've thought the idea over in my mind and it has puzzled me. In retrospect, while many of gun-owners I know are very politically aware, many are not politically active. They pay their yearly membership to the NRA and consider their job done. As large an organization as the NRA is, it can't do everything, nor should it really be expected to. Besides, even if a contribution from the NRA is received, it's a faceless organization.
As the adage goes, if you really want something done, you gotta do it yourself. Make your face known, if you can't volunteer your time, give money and do it in such a way that the politician understands what you expect from them. After all, if politicians think you're not paying attention to what they are doing anyway, what is their motivation, other than their own conscience, to vote the way you want them to??
So I guess this is an appeal to my fellow gun-owners. Get involved. Let your representatives not only know that you are watching, but that they have your support. Now is as critical time as any. Three gun bills are before the House already.
- HR 73 : To protect the right to obtain firearms for security, and to use firearms in defense of self, family, or home, and to provide for the enforcement of such right.
- HR 226 : To amend title 18, United States Code, to provide a national standard in accordance with which nonresidents of a State may carry concealed firearms in the State.
- HR 96 : To require criminal background checks on all firearms transactions occurring at events that provide a venue for the sale, offer for sale, transfer, or exchange of firearms, and for other purposes.
If you don't make sure your representative votes in a manner you would like, who are you to complain when they don't? Protecting your rights doesn't just involve voting every November. A functional democracy requires an involved and educated citizenship. Are you part of the problem? Or the solution?