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.