“Retailers Need to Wake Up,” Director of Government Relations and State Affairs at National Shooting Sports Foundation Jake McGuigan said during a grassroots seminar at the 2014 SHOT Show Tuesday morning. “It’s not political, it’s our livelihood and our constitutional right.”
Anti-gun politicians throughout the country have done everything possible over the past two years, and over the past four decades, to turn law abiding citizens into criminals. In 2012, we saw New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sign the S.A.F.E. Act in the middle of the night, limiting law abiding gun owners to just seven rounds in their ten round capacity magazines. In Colorado, we saw legislators put the cap on magazines at 15 rounds, forcing Magpul and it’s more than 200 employees out of the state to Texas.
According to McGuigan, gun and firearms accessory retailers provide endless opportunities from a grassroots standpoint; after all, they’re the ones talking with customers on a daily basis. Effective lobbying begins at the gun store and with customers who live in local communities and neighborhoods. Retailers must explain to their legislators what will happen to their businesses if particular legislation is passed that harms them. They cannot continue to make the excuse, “We don’t want to be political.”
The numbers of pro-Second Amendment grassroots activists overwhelmingly out number pro-gun control activists in every state with the exception of California. For example, in Colorado we recently saw historic recalls of Senate President John Morse and Colorado State Senator Angela Giron after pro-gun control votes, thanks in part to the work of pro-Second Amendment activists. A few months later, State Senator Evie Hudak submitted her resignation to avoid recall, which was another blow to the state's Democrat Party.
Defining the issue and understanding how a particular piece of gun control legislation will work is vital in defeating it, and ending a campaign with a victory. Being educated about the details of a particular gun control bill, rather than making broad arguments, is the key to winning a debate and ultimately winning in the short and long term.
McGuigan explained there are many pieces of the advocacy pie:
-State and Local Organizations
The reality is, dealers have power that is often untapped. Not only do dealers produce millions in tax revenue for local, state and federal governments, they also provide hundreds of jobs. Gun control legislation isn’t simply about gun control, and often times has the potential to kill jobs providing a living to hard working families. With these realities, although politicians are often anti-gun, they don’t want to lose important tax revenue and they don’t want their constituents losing jobs.
In order to build better relationships with lawmakers, McGuigan encourages dealers to invite legislators to stores, even if they support gun control efforts, arguing that showing them the difference between firearms, semi-automatic, revolvers, etc. and how things work, can make a big difference in how they vote. In addition, showing them the paperwork process for purchasing or transferring a firearm debunks the popular myth that buying a gun is as easy as buying a candy bar.