I was honored to be asked to be on a panel at the 2015 Gun Rights Policy Conference. The topic of our panel was "Using Media to Advance Gun Rights." Also on the panel were Charles Heller of Liberty Watch Radio, Don Irvine of Accuracy in Media, Herb Stupp of New York who had been part of Mayor Rudy Giuliani's cabinet, Cheryl Todd of GunTalk AZ, and Dave Workman.
Below is the text of my speech. I would welcome comments and criticism.
Hi. I'm John Richardson.
This morning I plan to tell you how I as a citizen journalist use the Internet to advance gun rights and how you can use it too. As the representative of New Media on this stage this morning, first let me tell you how I got started.
I had been a longtime reader of blogs. I finally decided in May 2010 that I could do just as well as anyone else and started my blog, "No Lawyers - Only Guns and Money." The name was a play on the Warren Zevon song, "Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money". I'm a financial planner - not a lawyer - hence the name.
I didn't have many readers at first but I just kept plugging along. Then something happened that gave my blog a big boost: Alan Gura won the McDonald case and then using this ruling, the SAF and Grass Roots North Carolina sued North Carolina to overturn the ban on firearms during declared states of emergency.
I saw it as my mission to report on the details of this and the other McDonald follow-on cases. I worked hard to provide background information so that readers would have a really good understanding of the issues. I felt that if people who supported gun rights had better knowledge than that provided by the mainstream media then they could argue our side more persuasively.
Fast forward to today, 4200+ blog posts, 1.7 million visitors later, and there have been many more cases and a good number of wins. Somewhere along the way I added the role of podcaster to my efforts on behalf of the Second Amendment. I am now a co-host on The Polite Society Podcast which is livestreaming this conference.
My blog as well as the podcast does four things: it educates, it informs, it advocates, and it entertains. The first three help advance the cause of gun rights while the fourth is just because we all need to laugh a bit especially if it is at the expense of the gun prohibitionists!
Let me give you some examples.
Our podcast The Polite Society Podcast has a regular feature called Defensive Gun Uses. We compile instances of how a lawful gun owner has used a firearm to defend him or herself and their family. The examples we have often involve robbery or a home invasion. We look at what the person did right and what they did wrong. We don't sugarcoat it as this is essential education on the rights and responsibilities of gun owners.
The best example of the blogosphere informing people that helped advance the cause of gun rights was the work that David Codrea, Mike Vanderboegh, and Dave Workman did in exposing Operation Fast and Furious which started right here in Phoenix. It was bloggers that connected whistleblowers with Congressional investigators. It was bloggers that introduced the whistleblowers to Sharyl Attkisson so that she could air their stories on television. Many other bloggers including myself took the ball put into play by David, Mike, and Dave and ran with it. If the scandal - and it wasn't some botched sting operation - gained legs, it was due to the efforts of New Media - not Old Media.
We in the New Media are open about our efforts to advocate on behalf of gun rights and the Second Amendment. Back in 2011, ATF was soliciting public comments on whether to implement a reporting requirement that would force border state FFLs to inform them when someone bought more than one semi-auto rifle within a five day period. The gun control lobby had a letter generator, we didn't. With the assistance of one of my readers, we set up a letter generator with a pre-written letter. Our letter generator sent 3,203 letters to OMB opposing this power grab. ATF still implemented it but by God they couldn't say there was no opposition!
I don't think I need to give examples of how blogs entertain. There are just too many.
An old journalist once said, "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those that own one." Well, as a blogger and podcaster I do own one. And thanks to the Internet so does everyone in this room.
When you post pictures of yourself taking a new shooter to the range on Facebook, you are advancing the cause. When you post a picture of a new gun you bought to Instagram, you are normalizing guns. When you tweet a link to an article that is pro-gun, you are spreading the message. Let's not forget Tumblr, Pinterest, and YouTube. Posting pictures or videos of successful hunts, reloading benches, etc. help advance the gun culture.
If there is one message I want to leave you with this morning it is this: We are in a cultural war against strong, well-funded, top-down opponents. They have the mainstream media on their side. We have the grassroots. New Media gives us the tools to conduct our cultural guerrilla war, build our grassroots support, and spread our message of self-reliance, freedom, and gun rights.
Thank you for your time today.
The Polite Society Podcast livestreamed both days of the conference. I was able to excerpt my presentation. While the crowd on Sunday was not as large as that on Saturday, it was certainly more people than I had ever spoken to before. Click on the "Watch highlights" to see my portion of the presentation.