By Larry Keane, National Shooting Sports Foundation
Everytown for Gun Safety and its billionaire founder and funder, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have pledged to spend $25 million to prevent national concealed carry reciprocity from becoming law on Capitol Hill, to increase their gun control efforts in state capitols and to oppose pro-Second Amendment candidates in the rapidly approaching 2018 midterm elections. It’s a whole lot of astroturf.
We know the good news. We have elected a President who has pledged to respect our citizens’ right to keep and bear arms and we have a new Supreme Court associate justice who has said he will respect the Heller decision reaffirming the individual right to keep and bear arms.
As a result, gun owners may think that they can rest easy. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The true believers of the gun control movement will never rest. We have said this before, but it bears repeating. We can never let down our guard.
Underpinning so much of the gun controllers’ arguments, and this is particularly evident in their fight against national concealed carry reciprocity, is the conflation of the legal ownership of firearms with the criminal misuse of guns. It’s a dishonest astroturf tactic that appeals to a political base that has no familiarity with firearms, but it does not ring true.
Just as the gun control groups inveighed against the increase in concealed carry permits on a state-by-state basis, they now argue that national reciprocity will result in increased crime from sea to shining sea.
Yet, citizens with concealed carry permits are not just respectful of our laws. They are, in fact, more law-abiding than the general public. A Texas A&M University study, perhaps the most comprehensive to date, found “CHL (Concealed Handgun Licensing) licensing rates “did not have a significant, negative or positive, effect on subsequent crime rates.”
Everytown would like federal and state legislators to believe that it is a national organization made up of tens of thousands of members. It is not. It is Astroturf. And a lot of people know it. Investigative journalist Sharyl Atkinson conducted an informal survey last summer and found that the Bloomberg organizations Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Everytown earned the number one position on the “Top 10 Astroturfers” list.
“Astroturfers often disguise themselves and publish blogs, write letters to the editor, produce ads, start non-profits, establish Facebook and Twitter accounts, edit Wikipedia pages or simply post comments online to try to fool you into thinking an independent or grassroots movement is speaking. They use their partners in blogs and in the news media in an attempt to lend an air of legitimacy or impartiality to their efforts,” Atkinson wrote. “The whole point of astroturf is to try to convince you there’s widespread support for or against an agenda when there’s not.”
The Bloomberg organizations are big astroturf efforts with big money behind them. But we don’t think they’re a match for our members combined with America’s gun owners – our customers – who can see right through the public relations shenanigans. Our Second Amendment rights are backed by real grassroots Americans, not paid staffers and astroturf. We will be heard
Larry Keane is the National Shooting Sports Foundation Sr. VP & General Counsel.