By Tim Andrews SCOPE President
The 2017 elections are over, and hopefully you helped elect pro-gun candidates to office in your local communities. The end of the 2017 elections brings the beginning of the 2018 election season. Yes, you heard me right, the 2018 election season is here, and our work begins. It is not overstated, to say that New York gun owners are facing the most important election of their lifetime. Let me say it again, 2018 will be the most important election of your lifetime. You will be voting to elect members of the New York State Legislature as well as the governor of New York State. Additionally, you will be electing members of congress and a U.S. Senator.
It’s a very big year to say the least. You have heard estimates on the number of gun owners in New York. Estimates range from four to six million New York gun owners. If we voted in a block, we would be the most pro-gun state in the union. Unfortunately, we don’t vote as a block, even worse, many gun owners don’t vote. Our fate ultimately hinges on how successful we are at getting gun owners out to vote and to vote pro-gun.
Many people who consider themselves pro-gun, are not necessarily one issue voters. They consider other issues as well. When they vote they may consider a candidate’s stance on issues like taxes, economics or other social issues. We need to educate voters that the right to defend yourself and your family is the ultimate right to life. Remember that caricature of Uncle Sam, pointing at you and stating, “Uncle Sam needs you”? Well, Uncle Sam needs all of us to preserve freedom in New York State. All hands-on deck. If there are barriers between us we must bury them now. We need gun shop owners, gun show operators, gun clubs and any organization that considers itself pro -gun to join in the fight.
First and foremost, we must get gun owners registered to vote. If you are not registered you can’t vote. We need voter registration forms in every gun shop, we must have voter registration tables at every gun show. We need to educate gun owners on how to vote including absentee balloting. We also need to identify the pro-gun vote and make sure it gets to the polls on election day. One final point on registering to vote....gun owners tend to be independent and many of us are inclined to register as independents and not a member of a political party.
When you register, I would encourage you to register to a political party because not doing so gives up part of your voice. When you register to a party you have the right to vote in that party’s primary. You have a say in who that party’s candidate is in the November election. Don’t forfeit that power, register to a political party. As a party member, you can obtain signatures and run your own pro-gun candidate against an anti-gunner in a party primary. The other important thing to consider about primaries is that fewer people vote in them, giving primary votes more impact. This means that an organized, get out the vote campaign in a primary can sometimes rid us of an anti-gun candidate who might be more difficult to defeat in the general election.
Good news on the Second Amendment Guarantee Act (SAGA – H.R. 3576). Representative Chris Collin’s legislation now has 14 co-sponsors. They include representatives from California, North Carolina, Louisiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia. Here in New York SAGA co-sponsors include Representatives Tom Reed, Claudia Tenney, Elise Stefanik and Lee Zeldin. Call these reps and thank them for their support. If you live in the Syracuse Representative district of John Katko, call his office and ask why he has not joined as a co-sponsor of SAGA.
Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of the recent mass shootings. Not surprisingly, it has not taken long for the enemies of freedom to attempt to gain some political advantage from these terrible tragedies that have their roots in pure evil. The Texas church shooting highlighted a point we have been making for a long time. The best defense against a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. The media has done a good job of playing that down. As you all know law-abiding gun owning citizen Stephen Willeford, put an end to the shooter’s rampage with his AR-15 rifle. The only thing that would have made this better is if someone in that church had a firearm, even more lives may have been saved. This was in Texas. I can’t help but wonder why no one in that church was armed. Have anti-gunners with their lying rhetoric attached a stigma to concealed carry, making folks reluctant to carry? If they have they should be held accountable for their rhetoric because it’s costing lives. Consider this, 70% of mass shootings end within 5 minutes, average police response time to such tragedies is 11 minutes. You can run, hide under a table or pew and hope for the best or you can fight back. Texas hero, Stephen Willeford proved there is no substitute for a good guy with an AR-15. Furthermore, we know the shooter had a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force and had a record of domestic violence, by law he should not have been able to purchase a firearm. That’s more evidence of government ineptitude and more evidence of how you cannot count on, or expect the government to protect you from a violent attack. Like New York’s SAFE Act, restrictive gun laws only restrict law abiding citizens, making us more vulnerable to evil people like the shooters in Texas and Las Vegas. The battle is against evil, perhaps too theological for anti-gunners to understand.