Friday, December 29, 2006

Update to Disturbing NRA Pamphlet

It's been a week since the document made its way into the blogosphere. I've called the NRA and NRA-ILA every weekday except Christmas. The responses have ranged from "This is the first I've heard of it" to "I'll get back to you" to "I need to do some more research on this" to "There will be a response on the website". What there hasn't been are denials, statements or returned phone calls and emails.

Given the speed with which the organization can respond and the fervor with which it defends its registered trademarks one must conclude it really is their baby. It's a shame. The NRA is the biggest and most effective pro-RKBA lobbying group. They've taken the low road, and I will not be renewing my membership or donating money to them until this is cleared up.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Disturbing Development - Hop Over to the Toad Abode For Details

A lot of Democratic and Progressive voters have an uneasy relationship with the National Rifle Association. On one hand, they are the biggest and most successful organization defending our Second Ammendment Rights. On the other, they often appear to have become an extension of the far Right wing of the Republican Party, wholly owned by the GOP and indifferent or hostile to anyone who doesn't use a large "C" in his Conservatism. My personal take which does not represent the position of the DPO GOC is that they are in danger of falling into the same trap as the Human Rights Coalition on the Left; fundraising and influence have become ends in themselves rather than means to the original end.

But that's the sort of discussion best had over a couple beers.

The unsettling thing here is that a professionally done pamphlet is making the rounds ostensibly from the NRA. It uses NRA logos. It includes several calls for funds for the Association. It sets up the NRA as the sole defender of our rights against the Forces of Darkness. It is also a piece of race-baiting, Jew-baiting hatefilled trash of the first order. I've seen similar stuff from the late unlamented George Lincoln Rockwell and the National Alliance.

There has been a lot of speculation in the blogosphere about what it really is. Is it authentic? Is it an aborted project from the NRA? Is it a hoax by anti-gun people? Is it an ill-guided attempt by a pro-gun group to support the National Rifle Association? At this point nobody knows. I have made several calls to the NRA and NRA-ILA headquarters. So far there has been no response other than "I need to do some more research on this", "I haven't received a definitive answer" and "When there is an official response it will be on the NRA-ILA web page." A few days of this makes sense. If it goes on too much longer a reasonable person will be forced to conclude that they are responsible and have abandoned Theodore Roosevelt for Michael Savage.

We shall see.

For links to further discussions of this and links to the original pamphlet (Boing Boing's is the best. Raw Story's has some strange artifacts in some of the pictures) take a look at this entry on my blog.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Gun Owners Caucus December Meeting and Annual Report

First Meeting
The Gun Owners Caucus met at the DPO headquarters in Portland, Oregon on December Second, 2006. Notice of the meeting was sent out to all registered DPO members, county party chairs, and Democrats who have expressed support for the caucus but chosen not to join formerly. This last group has proven to be very helpful in getting out the word about the caucus.

Meeting highlights:
* Caucus was addressed by State Representative Jeff Barker (D-Aloha) on Second Amendment issues before the legislature.
* Caucus was addressed by Cyreena Boston, DPO Constituency Director, on the roles and requirements of caucuses within the DPO
* Election of officers. The following members were elected as caucus officers:
- Chair – Zak Johnson (Multnomah County)
- Vice Chair – Todd Ellner (Multnomah County)
- Treasurer – Jim Robison (Multnomah County)
- Secretary – Chris Roop (Umatilla County)

Reaffirmed the purpose and message of the caucus
1) Serve to promote the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates for office; support elected Democrats and Democratic nominees for office
2) Combat the incorrect and harmful stereotype of the Democratic Party as being anti-gun and anti-gun owner; recruit pro-Second Amendment voters back into the Democratic Party
3) Create a Democratic voice for the promotion of Second Amendment rights, firearms education and hunter safety within the state
4) Work to ensure that the position of party leaders accurately reflects the pro-Second Amendment attitudes of the Oregon Democrats they represent

Setting of yearly agenda (2007)
* Formation of a PAC to handle money
This is a difficult process, but is seen as the best way to be sure members’ actions on behalf of the caucus are in compliance with the law. Several reasons for raising money were cited including publication/dissemination of PR materials, paying for hosting a website—including fund raising via an online presence, paying for voice and/or video (online) conferencing to allow for greater attendance at meetings and member training sessions. (Follow up: Zak J. and Jim R. have spoken with Cindy Moody about PAC formation, which is tentatively started to begin after the first of the year, though no definite dates have been set for action.)

* Increased PR
In order to bring more gun owners back into the Democratic Party, those voters need to know the pro-Second Amendment stance of the party. It is recognized that a “window dressing” caucus will do more harm than good, and so several definitively pro-Second Amendment PR campaigns were suggested. GOC member Tracee Larson volunteered to help with coordination of outreach efforts.
* Members were reminded to send press releases to Neel Pender prior to general release to the media. (The media tends to call Neel for comments, so it's good to give him a heads up!)
* Commitment to work with Jenny Greenleaf to create GOC pages in the DPO website, including a listserv with automated member sign-up and donation (pending PAC formation) forms.

36 County strategy
* For 2007, the GOC is seeking to have members in every county in Oregon:
Members will need to represent the caucus and its goals both inside and outside the party.
* Inside the party, members are encouraged to become active in their county Democratic parties by becoming PCPs, participating in regular party meetings, and volunteering on behalf of both the party and the GOC in contacting voters and expanding the Democratic base in the state.

Next meeting
The next meeting is set for the same day and location of the next SCC meeting. Because many of our members represent counties away from the main population centers of Oregon, the GOC will explore the possibility, in terms of both compliance and technical/financial feasibility, of hosting voice or video conference meetings for the general membership to participate remotely.

End of 2006 Annual Report.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I'm a Democrat - and gun control is for the birds

Oregon Democrat, city prosecutor, and NRA member Michael Arnold of Lane County has posted a fantastic rebuttal to Michael Moore's recent "A liberal pledge" which was recently carried in area papers and widely forwarded via email. Arnold's wit shows that not only does Moore not speak for all liberals, he doesn't speak as eloquently either.

Here's the link to Arnold's op-ed in The Register-Guard: "I'm a Democrat - and gun control is for the birds." Apparently the NRA has it linked on their website, too.

Here's a quick sample of what Moore said in his so-called "pledge":

"We will not take away your hunting guns. If you need an automatic weapon or a handgun to kill a bird or a deer, then you really aren't much of a hunter and you should, perhaps, take up another sport. In the meantime, we will arm the deer to make it a fairer fight."

Here's a taste of Arnold's funny, but serious, reply:

"I agree with Moore quite often, but he sometimes makes us look silly to outsiders. He apparently doesn't realize that you are a superstar marksman hunting god or a stalking savant if you can kill a bird or a deer with a handgun."

Indeed. I may use a Ruger Mark II next time for dove hunting, just for the extra challenge. Anyway, check out the whole article over at The Register-Guard and give Mike a pat on the back next time you see him.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

First Official GOC Meeting: 9 AM Dec. 2nd

The Gun Owners Caucus of the Democratic Party of Oregon's first official meeting as a caucus is scheduled for 9 AM, December 2nd, 2006 in Portland, Oregon.

The meeting is booked for the conference room at theMultnomah County Democratic Party headquarters, the "Donkey Stable," at 232 NE 9th Ave., Portland, between Everett and Davis. If we have overflow, we can also use the main meeting space on the ground floor.

For more information, send me an email using the account in my blogger profile and I'll add you to the GOC mailing list.

TENTATIVE AGENDA:
1) Introductory comments and welcome
2) Election of officers
3) Discussion of near term agenda--
a. Next place/time for meeting
b. Goal setting/agenda setting meeting
4) Comments from the floor
5) End


The meeting is scheduled for December 2nd and in Portland to coincide with the quarterly DPO SCC meeting, which is also in Portland on that day. The idea is that this will allow SCC delegates and other GOC members from the four corners of the state to attend both meetings with only one trip.

I hope you can plan to attend.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Gun Owners Should Represent as Election Volunteers

I just returned from the Ted Kulongoski & Howard Dean rally in Portland tonight. Both men were on fire, as were the many other state and federal office holders on hand. Turnout was a couple hundred and was covered by several local TV news crews.

When I showed up, Jenny Simonis, Multnomah County Democrats field coordinator, handed me a clipboard with orders to canvas the crowd of faithful Democrats for Volunteers. The DPO and all 36 county parties still need volunteers for phone banking and for canvassing--going door-to-door. I've been doing both for Kulongoski and for Rob Brading, as have several other of our caucus members who I see at events here in Portland.

All members of the Gun Owners Caucus should make an effort to give as much time as you can between now and the November 7th election. It doesn't matter where you live--we need the voters of all 36 Oregon counties to be part of our victory.

And if you do volunteer--make a point of letting people know you're volunteering on behalf of the GOC. The GOC doesn't have our own voter outreach program in place yet--we are volunteering within the DPO and county Democratic parties--but when we do volunteer we need to let those organizations know that we are there on behalf of the caucus. It shows our commitment, builds clout, and helps the Party WIN. All good things.

Case in point--last week I was at the DPO headquarters in Portland and the volunteer on the phone next to me got a question about Rob Brading's position on gun rights! "He's supports them," I told her. "East [Multnomah] County has one of the highest per capita hand gun ownership rates in the state. Those are Rob's people." How else would she have known that if I hadn't been there to tell her?

So please use the phone numbers or the links below to find out where to volunteer. As Howard Dean said tonight, if the election were held today, the Democrats would take the House and the Senate...but the election isn't for three weeks. We know what the Republicans are capable of doing to pull a Hail Mary or "October Surprise" in the final weeks. It's up to us to keep voters focused on the issues.

Here's where to volunteer:

Democratic Party of Oregon - Volunteer
DPO Volunteer Phones:
Portland: 503-224-8200
Eugene: 541-434-2189

Note--time is short; calling to volunteer is probably the way to go at this point.

Let's help take back America!

Innocents Betrayed Showing at Clinton Street Theatre

This announcement was sent to me by the Oregon Firearms Federation via their listserv, which I recommend Oregon gun owners sign up for. Click to see a promo for the Innocents Betrayed film. See you at the movies.
-Zak

INNOCENTS BETRAYED SHOWING IN PORTLAND.

"Innocents Betrayed," the movie by Jews For The Preservation Of Firearms Ownership, will be shown in Portland, at the Clinton Street Theater.

The film will be shown on Sunday, October 22, at 2pm.

This riveting presentation is a damning indictment of gun control and the untold millions of lives lost to its false promise.

Getting to see this movie under any circumstances would be an important event for any gun owner, but on Sunday, you can actually see it for free. That's right, the movie will be free, but there is limited seating, so if you are in the Portland area and can make it to the theater, please come early to make sure you get a seat.

The good people who are making this possible have invited people from all sides of the gun control debate. Following the movie there will be a half hour opportunity for anyone to have three minutes at the microphone to express their views on the movie and the entire issue of gun control. Following that will be a "freedom market" where any organization that wants to offer products and services that promote freedom will be given the opportunity to do just that. OFF will be there.

This is a powerful and important film. We suggest you make every effort to come. If you have friends or family that still believe that gun control is a good idea, this would be a great way to show them the truth.

The Clinton Street Theater is located at 2522 SE Clinton Street in Portland 97202 <http://tinyurl.com/y67bcr>.

For more information, contact Renee Kimball at 503-238-6973. E-mail
<renee@enufwaste.com>

Event flyer available here
<http://oregonfirearms.org/pdfs/Politicsandbeer.pdf>"

Monday, October 09, 2006

Region Trumps Party in the Gun Control Debate

The sincerest form of flattery is imitation. But on the web, we can link:

In cruising the RKBA websites, I came across this gem entitled "Don't Blame Liberals for Gun Control" posted on the Portland Independent Media Center site in 2004. It makes some great points, including an "outing" of Republican gun-control advocates like Mitt Romney (Massachusetts), Guiliani (NY), Pataki (NY), Nixon (CA), Ronald Reagan (CA), Bush I (Connecticut), , and others.

Notice where these people are from. In short, gun-control ain't about the party--it's about the part of the country a pol comes from. In Oregon gun control is not favored by a substantial portion of either major party. No thanks, California, but we prefer feeling safe in our homes.

The PIMC post is a couple years old, but still timely and valid. Give it read.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Education Begins at Home

"My position for many years has been that just as a motorist must have a license, a gun owner should be required to have one as well. Anyone wanting to own a gun should have to pass a written exam that shows that they know how to use a gun, that they’re intelligent enough and responsible enough to handle a gun. Should both handgun and rifle owners be licensed...we’re talking about all dangerous weapons."

-REPUBLICAN Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, as quoted in the Boston Globe, declaring you should have to pass a written exam before you can exercise your Constitutional rights. (Didn't we used to do that with voting, too?)
The Gun Owners Caucus of the Democratic Party of Oregon has several overlapping objectives concerning education. To be most effective, our education efforts need to occur both outside and inside the Democratic Party.

Outside the party our goals are two-fold:
  1. "Win over" and "win back" people who have stayed outside of the Democratic Party because they don't think the Democrats support the Second Amendment
  2. Give back choice to voters who would never register as Democrats by convincing them to take a close look at individual Democratic candidates who may have more in common with them (a rural background, healthy 2nd Amendment support, fiscal sanity) than they may have realized.
From a gun owners' rights position, both of these goals should be attainable because Democratic support for the Second Amendment is clearly more of a regional issue than a national issue. I'd much rather trust my civil rights to own and bear arms to any number of southern or western Democrats than I would trust it to Republicans like Rudy Guiliani (NY), George Pataki (NY), George Deukmejian (CA), or especially presidential hopeful Mitt Romney (MA). So sure, Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Ted Kennedy are outspoken in favoring abrogations of the 2nd Amendment, but where are they from? The same states of some of the anti-2nd Amendment Republicans just listed. Given that Republicans and Democrats from the same states tend to be weak on 2nd Amendment protections, one has to assume they are representing the wishes of their local constituents and not a national party consensus.

All I can say to Republicans, Independents, or minor party candidates is--don't assume the "D" on the ticket means anti-gun or that the "R" means pro-Seocond Amendment. It tain't necessarily so. Learn what the CANDIDATE says and stands for (good advice in all cases.) Chances are that in many regions (like Oregon's 2nd Congressional district for instance) the Democrat is as much if not more of a supporter of the Second Amendment than the other candidates.

Inside the party, we also have two primary goals:
  1. Educate non-gun owners about firearms
  2. Educate non-gun owners--including elected Democrats charged with setting public policy--of the benefits of living in an armed society
People fear the unknown. If you don't know anything about guns, then guns are scary. Some weapons are intentionally designed to LOOK scary, so why wouldn't the uninformed judge a book by its cover? When you don't know the difference, you may not realize that automatic weapons have been banned for 70+ years or that any high-powered hunting rifle capable of taking down an elk or bison is also going to go right through most body-armor.

Dan G.'s earlier post urging gun owners to take their non-owning friends out for a shooting experience is a good place to start in this education. And open-minded people should be and probably will be willing to go--honest people recognize their own ignorance, and generally look for education when it's offered. Let's face it, if you've gone your whole life without being around firearms, making the decision to own one or even to respect the rights of those who do may require a sea-change in one's self-image and your view of your place in a civil society. It all starts with realizing that a gun is a tool that serves its master like any other.

Which brings us to the crux of the matter with education--educating people about the benefits of living in an armed society. Aside from the political benefits of an armed society, there are tangible benefits from living in an armed society that gun owners need to make sure non-owners understand. To list one example, the presence of guns in America makes the incidence of home invasions or robberies of occupied homes relatively rare. In supposedly peaceful (read: low gun violence) societies like the U.K. or Holland, the rate of at-home burglaries is about 50%. People who are at home when burglars strike--especially when the victims don't have weapons--are very likely to be assaulted. Guns being in the hands of the public turn at-home burglaries into a game of literal Russian roulette for would-be burglars because they have no way of knowing which home owners are armed and which are not. Consequentially, they don't happen very often because burglars fear being shot. So the non-owners get a free ride--lower at-home burglary rates--as a result of guns they don't even own. Of course, for this formula to work, burglars need to know that at least some portion of the public will have guns "at the ready," that is, in the bedside table and not locked in a safe. Let non-gun owners know about things like this which they may not have considered.

This is only the first of many examples of how guns, rather than causing violence, actually have a profound effect on the dynamics of crime and public safety (not to mention politics) in this country. And it's only one of many conversations gun owners need to have in their efforts to win the hearts and minds of their political detractors.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Gun Owners Caucus on BlueOregon.com

A guest column I wrote about the Gun Owners Caucus of the DPO for BlueOregon.com, one of the leading liberal blog forums in Oregon has generated a wide range of feedback worth looking at. Here's the link: http://www.blueoregon.com/2006/09/democrats_and_t.html

The most gratifying result of all the feedback was that in the first two days and 30+ comments from people with views from across the political spectrum, not one commentator challenged my assertions that: "The Bush administration daily violates the 1st, 4th, and 5th amendments (unless you consider confessions under torture not to be self-incrimination). Tom Delay's cronies continue to violate the 13th amendment in the U.S. Mariannas."

I think the silence about THAT speaks volumes about our current political crisis.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Confessions of a Former Gun Grabber

"Certainly one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of citizens to keep and bear arms. This is not to say that firearms should not be very carefully used, and that definite safety rules of precaution should not be taught and enforced. But the right of citizens to keep and bear arms is just one more guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against a tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible."
That was Hubert H. Humphrey, liberal icon and failed Democratic presidential candidate in a 1960 interview with Guns magazine. I wasn't born when he uttered those lines which is appropriate; they belong to an age before mine, when guns weren't a wedge issue and the Party of justice and civil liberties accepted more diversity of opinion.

What do we know about the Democratic Party and the RKBA? To begin with, it cost us the Senate, the House and the Presidency. Tom Foley's ill-considered ramming-through of the Assault Weapons Ban is directly credited with confirming the worst fears of gun owners, causing them to jump ship for the Republicans. This isn't just the paranoid ravings of a gun-nut. It's the considered opinion of the former Speaker and former President Clinton. John Kerry should have taken West Virginia. It's pro-union and doesn't have much reason to love George Bush. It is also home to a lot of firearms owners who may have - a tip of the hat to Zak for pointing this out - provided the crucial margin to the current occupant of the White House.

When the Democrats were the dominant force in American politics they relied on the old Franklin Roosevelt coalition of the industrial heartland, the Northeast and the solid South. As it broke up and the Boll-Weevils underwent metamorphosis into elephants the Party was more in the hands of people from areas where gun rights were alien. South of Mason-Dixon and West of the Mississippi became increasingly important in national politics. A core freedom cherished by people in those areas became absolutely identified with the Republicans. Now gun prohibition is a solid plank in the platform. Obligatory shots of Presidential candidates awkwardly handling over-and-under shotguns at duck-killing photo ops do nothing to convince the formerly Democratic otherwise.

My Party can not regain anything like its former stature until it comes to term with political reality and changes its position significantly.

How is this a former gun-grabbers confession and not just a gun-owning Democrat's screed? Well now, that is a story.

I grew up in a liberal Jewish Democratic household. My grandparents, all immigrants, never owned guns. My father was qualified as a marksman and sharpshooter during WWII but never touched a firearm before or after. He was from New York City where such things are rarer than an honest fisherman. It was a matter of unarticulated faith that guns were strange bad things that good people didn't own. They belonged to people who kill things for fun, political extremists, criminals and the paranoid. They were incompatible with the values of justice and liberty that decent folks supported. By the time I was in my mid 20s I had seldom seen and never handled a firearm and knew almost nothing about them except that they were dangerous things to be feared.

There was a crack that admitted some light. I've been a martial arts student and self defense teacher for quite a while. The idea of using force in legitimate self protection, even deadly force, was not all that novel. Hands, yes. Sticks, yes. Knives, yes. Archaic Oriental weapons, yes. Guns, no.

Eventually I drifted into the orbit of a Colorado redneck Silat teacher. He thought I was absolutely wrong on this subject but didn't push the point. He did insist that I learn basic firearms safety which went a long way to demystifying them. Later there was a trip to the range. I was able to see guns as potentially dangerous special purpose tools. When the emotional ground had been prepared things that addressed the intellect like Point Blank and The Samurai, the Mountie and the Cowboy could be viewed and their message accepted with an open mind. From there it was a pretty small jump to being pro Second Ammendment.

That's the key to this, really. As long as firearms are something that Those People use they will be mysterious and frightening. Let your friends see firearms as something that normal folks have and use. Remove the superstitious fear. If you take just two hoplophobic Democratic friends out shooting (.22 only, no human silhouette targets) you will go further towards reuniting the Party with its natural constituents than any number of pictures of candidates looking uncomfortable in Mossy Oak camo and blaze orange.

Friday, September 15, 2006

GOC Getting Early Press!

Having just gotten the official nod from the DPO on Sept 9, the GOC is already getting good press both in the papers and in at least one RKBA website with a national audience.

Here's a sampling:
The discussion thread in The HighRoad is especially useful to read because it shows the depth of the belief that Democrats just can't possibly be pro-2nd Amendment. It's worth taking a look at what people on there had to say from across the political spectrum.

A lot of "Democratic activists" (the Trib's term) have been coming up to me lately or getting in touch on the web and asking what they can do to take the message forward that the Democrats are THE PARTY that supports the WHOLE Constitution--all of it, as written.

And they aren't talking about hunting. I think we just may turn out to be in the majority.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Gun Owners Caucus Approved by the Democratic Party of Oregon!

GOC is now official!

On Saturday, September 10, the Gun Owners Caucus of the Democratic Party of Oregon (GOC - DPO) was overwhelmingly APPROVED by a floor voice vote of the State Central Committee (SCC) meeting at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon. Two other new caucuses--the Faith Caucus and the College Democrats--were also santioned at that time by the SCC. (Good luck to their members!)

The support given the diverse group of caucuses by the DPO is testimony to the breadth and dedication of the Democratic Party's membership. In an eloquent explanation of the function of caucuses, DNC Committeeman Wayne Kinney noted that they serve to conduct outreach to special interest communities who may not realize how the Democratic Party supports their rights and promotes their interests. This is certainly the purpose of the Gun Owners Caucus. Roughly half the households in the country own a gun(1), and there's not a reason in the world every one of those households shouldn't vote Democrat.

At the SCC meeting, I had an opportunity to speak with Jason Brown, the energetic computer professional and small farmer running as the Democratic candidate for House District 23. Brown typified the attitude of many Democrats at the meeting with his assessment of the need to support for Gun Owners' rights:

"I'm a Quaker and would never personally own a gun," said Brown. "But it's [the right to bear arms] in the Constitution and there's a reason it's in there. It's what supports the right of the people to change their government."

I couldn't agree more--the Second Amendment isn't about hunting, it's not even about crime prevention. It's about being the safety valve that supports the rest of the Constitution by making tyranny in America impossible. Thank you, Jason Brown.

And now the work begins. The Gun Owners Caucus needs a board, a bank account (just wait till you see our buttons), and most of all members to go to gun shows, shooting clubs, sporting events, and other venues that attract gun owners and let them know the Democratic Party is with them. If you're interested and like a good debate with strangers in a public setting, send me an email right away and we'll get you set up to canvas in your area.

Can't spare the time? Then talk to your friends, relatives, and coworkers about the Democratic vision for a just America. If they say the Democratic Party doesn't support gun owners' rights, refer them to the GOC.

We're here! We're armed! We're Democrats! Get used to it!


Sources:
(1) Kleck, Gary. 1991. Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America. Paperback edition published 2005 by Aldine Transaction, New Jersey.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Proposed Bylaws for the Gun Owners Caucus of the Democratic Party of Oregon

[For a discussion on why the DPO needs a Gun Owners Caucus, please see the previous post (scroll down.)]

These bylaws (below) have been submitted to the DPO. It's hoped they will be approved by the SCC and serve as the basis for an activist caucus that can support the Democratic Party and its policy aims in the following ways:

• Protect Gun Owners' rights by promoting a pro-Second Amendment legislative agenda.
• Help Democrats win elections by publicizing the Democratic Party’s support of all Constitutional guarantees—including the Second Amendment.
• Combat the incorrect and harmful stereotypes that Democrats are anti-gun and anti-gun owner through press releases and by outreach and education at Shooting Ranges, Gun Shows, and other venues that currently serve as de facto forums for promoting the Republican agenda.
• Create a Democratic voice for the promotion of firearms education and responsibility, hunter safety, and enforcement of existing gun laws within the state.
• Persuade and support party leaders to accurately reflect the attitudes of the Oregon Democrats they represent, including the high number of gun-owning Democrats.
• Serve as a counterpoint to nationally prominent anti-gun Democrats who, while they may speak for their own constituents, do not speak for Oregonians or the national party.

Here are the bylaws. Feedback is welcomed and encouraged!

-------------------------

Gun Owners Caucus of the Democratic Party of Oregon Bylaws [proposed]

Article I – Name

The name of the organization is the Gun Owners Caucus of the Democratic Party of Oregon, here after referred to as the Gun Owners Caucus.

Article II – Purpose

The Gun Owners Caucus will serve to promote the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates for office. Through its efforts and statements, the Gun Owners Caucus will support elected Democrats and Democratic nominees for office.

The purpose of the Gun Owners Caucus, through its members and activities is to: represent the political interests and views of Gun Owning Democrats in the State of Oregon; provide opportunities for supporters of gun owners’ rights to seek political appointments or elected office, paid or unpaid; provide networking and meeting opportunities for Democrats who support the full range of gun ownership rights; serve as a forum to counter the stereotypes and misinformation regarding the Democratic party’s long-standing support for all rights enumerated in the U.S. Constitution, especially the Second Amendment right of citizens to keep and bear arms; and to act as a forum to educate elected officials and the general public on matters affecting gun owners in Oregon.

Article III – Membership and Voting Privilege

Membership in the Gun Owners Caucus shall be limited to registered Democrats who support the Constitutional right of private citizens to decide for themselves when and whether to keep and bear arms, who believe gun ownership by citizens is essential to the maintenance of civil liberties, and who agree with the principles enumerated by the Democratic Party of Oregon in Resolution 2005-008, which reads:

“RESOLUTION NO. 2005-008

A RESOLUTION OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF OREGON

WHEREAS, the Democratic Party has long been dedicated to the preservation of civil liberties; and

WHEREAS, the Democratic Party has long been dedicated to the preservation of freedom and social justice.

NOW, THEREFORE, THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF OREGON RESOLVES AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1. To recognize and support the right to keep and bear arms in Article 1 Section 27 of the Oregon State Constitution and the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America as an individual right not granted by the government, but rather guaranteed by the government.

Section 2. In recognition of the tremendous personal responsibility engendered by the right to keep and bear arms, the Democratic Party of Oregon further advocates severe penalties and their enforcement for criminal use or misuse of the right.”


The Executive Committee may from time to time create guidelines on membership that clarify the intent of the organization to represent gun owners in Oregon.

Article IV – Offices

The principal office of the Gun Owners Caucus shall be the city or county address of the chair. The Gun Owners Caucus may have any such offices or chapters as the State Executive Committee may determine.

Article V – State Executive Committee

5.1 The governing body of the Gun Owners Caucus shall be the State Executive Committee, hereafter referred to as the Executive Committee, which derives its authority and responsibilities from the membership. The Executive Committee shall have authority to transact business on behalf of the Gun Owners Caucus between statewide meetings. The Executive Committee may appoint standing and special committees, and may delegate any of its powers to said committees with advice and consent from the general membership.

5.2 The Executive Committee shall be comprised of the following duly elected positions:

a) Chair;
b) Vice-Chair
c) Treasurer;
d) Secretary;
e) A representative from each chapter (once chapters are established).

5.3 The Chair, Vice-Chair, Treasurer, and the Secretary shall be elected by the general membership at the annual organizational meeting. Each chapter shall designate its representative.

5.4 Duties and responsibilities of standing and special committees not defined in these bylaws shall be established by the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee shall hold meetings at each State Central Committee meeting when caucus times are available. Other committee meetings may be called by the Chair or by any three members by giving notice to all members of the Committee. An emergency meeting may be called by telephone, or email. All Executive Committee meeting notices shall be mailed or emailed at least two weeks prior to a meeting.

Article VI – Qualifications for Office

All members of the Gun Owners Caucus in good standing qualify for nomination and election to office in the Gun Owners Caucus.

Article VII – Term of Office

The term of office for the Executive Committee shall not exceed three two-year terms. The term of office shall begin in the month following the reorganization meeting.

Article VIII – Authority and Duties of the Executive Committee

8.1 The Chair shall:

a) be the Gun Owners Caucus’ Chief Executive Officer;
b) be the Gun Owners Caucus’ spokesperson;
c) be responsible for external affairs;
d) preside at all regular Executive Committee meetings;
e) be responsible for preparing the agenda of all regular Executive Committee meetings; and
f) appoint standing and special committee chairs with advice and consent of the Executive Committee.

8.2 The Vice-Chair shall:

a) be the Gun Owners Caucus’ Chief Operating Officer;
b) be responsible for internal affairs;
c) assume the duties of the chair in the absence of the chair when the chair is incapacitated; and
d) perform other duties as directed by the Executive Committee.

8.3 The Treasurer shall:

a) maintain the Gun Owners Caucus financial account with the Democratic Party of Oregon or at a local bank or credit union;
b) receive and deposit all Gun Owners Caucus monies into said account;
c) disperse, by check only, funds of the organization in accordance with the approved budget as established or directed by the Executive Committee;
d) submit written financial reports to the Executive Committee and the membership at each regular meeting, and at such other times that the Executive Committee directs;
e) comply with local, state, and federal statutory requirements;
f) maintain all active financial records of the Gun Owners Caucus, except historical records, which shall be turned over to the custodian of records;
g) prepare and submit all financial records for audit prior to relinquishing the Office of the Treasurer, and at such other times as determined by the membership;
h) assist the Executive Committee, by completing all financial reporting required by law; and
i) in the absence of the chair and vice-chair, preside at regular meetings.

8.4 The Secretary shall:

a) be the official custodian of all historical records, files, books, and correspondence of the Gun Owners Caucus;
b) maintain a current list of the officers, committee members, including their duties and responsibilities, and the current address and phone numbers of all members;
c) conduct correspondence as directed by the Executive Committee;
d) in the absence of the chair, the vice-chair, act as spokesperson of the Executive Committee;
e) record and transcribe the minutes of meetings;
f) prepare minutes for reproduction and presentation at the next regular meetings; and
g) track and report approved resolutions.


Article IX – Membership Meetings

There will be at least one quarterly meeting, totaling at least four meetings per year, of the Gun Owners Caucus, as noted below.

9.1 The Platform and Legislative Convention: The general membership shall assemble in the winter preceding general elections to establish the Gun Owners Caucus legislative agenda and to review and revise its platform.

9.2 The Reorganization/Convention: The general membership shall assemble in the winter after general elections to select its leadership. These conventions may be scheduled no earlier than 30 days, nor later than 90 days, following the general election.

9.3 Executive Committee Meetings: The Executive Committee shall schedule a minimum of four meetings per year. A meeting of the Executive Committee shall be scheduled during the annual conventions and the three other meetings scheduled during the remaining part of the year.

9.4 Standing and special committees’ meetings shall be held at a time and location of each committee’s choosing. Each committee shall set its own agenda in accordance with its charter.

9.5 These meetings shall be for members to express views and adopt resolutions. Voting for officers shall be by secret ballot unless only one candidate stands for an office, in which case the vote may be done by acclamation. All other votes may be taken by the acclamation or consensus of those present. There shall be no proxy votes.

Article X – Nominations, Elections, and Vacancies

10.1 The nomination and election of the Executive Committee shall take place at the biannual reorganization meeting.

10.2 A nomination and election committee shall be appointed by the Executive Committee to identify and recruit candidates for office. The names of the candidates submitted by the nomination and election committee and the names of candidates submitted from the floor at the time of the reorganization meeting shall be submitted to the Gun Owners Caucus members for a vote.

10.3 Electors shall be the members in good standing and present at the reorganization meeting. Elections shall be by majority vote. In the event that no candidate receives a majority vote or there is a tie, a runoff of the top two candidates shall be immediately conducted.

10.4 Vacancies may be filled by the will of the Executive Committee at its next regular meeting.

Article XI – Quorum

All those qualified under Article III of these bylaws who attend the convention shall constitute a quorum at each convention. The quorum at Executive Committee meetings shall be a simple majority of members of the Executive Committee. A quorum must be present through out the meeting to transact the business of the Gun Owners Caucus. In the absence of a quorum, there shall be no business transacted, except for reports and concluding business previously approved.

Article XII – Chapters

12.1 During the initial biennium, all activities of the Gun Owners Caucus will take place at the state level, without county or other local chapters. Should the need for local chapters arise in the future, these bylaws may be amended as the membership deems appropriate.

Article XIII – Recall

13.1 Elected Officers may be removed from office by majority vote at a regular scheduled Executive meeting. Chapter representatives may be denied voting privileges pending recall by their organization.

13.2 Executive Committee members, including chapter representatives, who are absent from three consecutive regular scheduled meetings without notice shall be automatically removed from office (representation), unless the member can show just cause.

Article XIV – Rules of Order

The rules of order for the Gun Owners Caucus shall be by unanimous consent except for the use of parliamentary procedure when debate is needed. In such a case, the Gun Owners Caucus shall operate by Roberts Rules of Order, as most recently amended.

Article XV – Enacted

These bylaws are enacted and approved by the general membership on the ___________________ day of _____________________ 2006.


[Date of enactment pending]

Draft of August 11, 2006

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Why the Democratic Party of Oregon Needs a Gun Owners Caucus

"This [pro-gun control] attitude has been a real problem in the West," Montana Democratic Chairman Bob Ream said. "Republicans have painted Democrats as people who will take your guns away."*

"I know there are concerns in large cities, but I want to hear candidates stand up and say they support the Second Amendment," said Edgar Malepeai, vice chairman of the Idaho Democratic Party.*


What do Democratic Governors Bill RichardsonD-NM), Brian Schweitzer (D-MT), and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have in common? They are all prominent Democrats who've put together winning coalitions in western states by staying true to the Democratic Party's support of civil rights, including the right to own and carry firearms, the second bullet point in the Bill of Rights. (Reid even gets campaign money from the NRA.) By breaking bread with the hunters (natural allies of environmentalists) and other pro-gun voting blocks, these politicians are able to hold office and fight for the core principles--equal protection under the law and other civil rights, economic justice, a rational foreign policy--that define the better nature of America.

The demographics of Oregon are similar to those of Montana, New Mexico, Nevada and most other western states: a few large urban centers; predominant, large rural areas with minimal police coverage, large amounts of state and federal lands managed for hunting, and a strong libertarian streak (small "l") that runs through the entire political spectrum from the far left to the far right. Support for gun owners' rights is an integral part of this region's cultural tradition; which again, crosses the political spectrum.

Politicians wishing to represent their constituents should be prepared to defend this culture, or explain why not. A national Pew research poll in February 2004 showed that 32% of voters will not vote for someone who disagrees with them on gun control. This puts the gun control issue close to abortion and other hot topics in its importance to voters. Unfortunately, in these times of close elections, the Democratic Party is generally viewed—unfairly, but still—as an anti-gun institution. The public needs to know this is wrong. Setting aside Florida for a moment, a perceived lack of credibility on gun rights is cited by members of Al Gore's own campaign as one of the reasons Al Gore lost traditionally Democratic states like West Virginia. It's also partially why John Kerry lost the rural vote in general (the shotgun photo ops only showed he didn’t get it: gun rights aren’t about hunting.)

Fortunately, in 2005, the Democratic Party of Oregon overwhelmingly passed RESOLUTION NO. 2005-008 (see link to BlueOregon.com for a discussion of the resolution). This resolution unambiguously states the DPO's support of 2nd Amendment rights (and responsibilities.) But we members of the DPO need to keep the momentum going. We need to make sure the public as a whole comes to understand that Democrats are, quite simply, the party that supports Americans' civil rights, including the right that is the guarantor of all the others: the right to bear arms.

We can best get out the word about the DPO's true position with a high-profile caucus charged with keeping gun owners’ rights in the forefront of the party’s policy decisions. I am currently in the process of founding a new caucus within the Democratic Party of Oregon: a Gun Owners' Caucus. There are many reasons, but this post deals with a big one: dispelling the misconception that Democrats want to take your guns away. Fact is, we don't. Please support this effort, and join the caucus today.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

* Quotes from: Hartford Courant - Hartford, Conn. July 9, 2003. "Democrats Speak Softly on Gun Control" by David Lightman.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Oregon Democratic Party State Convention 2006 ended today after three jam-packed days spent critiqing ourselves, our party, and our common goals for our great country. Attending was exhausting but exhilerating; like witnessing the birth of a child (let alone having one, I know, but as a man I can only do so much on that score.)

One thing that was abundantly clear in that political setting--Democrats love their country and demand a lot of it, like a tough coach. Most of all, we love the freedoms guaranteed to us in our Constitution.

That revered document is what binds us as a nation and protects us as individuals. Deeper divisions than the mere politics of the moment threathen us if either wing of our political spectrum decides to pick and choose to obey and enforce. (I won't even take a swipe at anybody here--we all know it when someone walks off the path; no sense pretending otherwise.) These principles were reiterated again and again this weekend. We must obey the laws of our land, and adhere to the principles upon which they are based which are enumerated in the Constitution.

In politics as in our professions, we succeed best by following our passions. For me, the 2nd Amendment is a particular passion, and so I begin this site to educate the general public about the pro-Constitutional, pro-gun stance of the Democratic Party, and also in hopes it will serve as a forum for law-abiding, gun-owning Democrats to meet and discuss their viewpoints on the rights and duties of gun owners in our free society.

The Convention debates are over. Let the debates begin!