In this day and age of political squabbling and back door dealing it seems to me that shooting enthusiasts need to stick together now more than ever. As gun owners we need to be unified in our message to our politicians, and let them know that we will not stand for any legislation that focuses on law abiding citizens instead of criminals. We need to make sure that gun clubs have our best interests at heart. Quarreling with members is not a good way to run a club. All members should be treated the same, no buddy benefits. Keeping an eye on Washington D.C. and in your own state legislature needs to be a priority for any gun club large or small, because if we don’t look out for ourselves no one will.
I belong to one of the largest gun clubs and gun show promoters in Washington State. This club got its humble start with men and women who loved firearms and firearm related items. This was….. and to a smaller extent is…. a club where people enjoy each other and love of a shared hobby at monthly gun shows. You can come in and buy, sell, or trade, and there used to be lots of trading. In order to purchase a firearm at the show you have to be a member, a basic background check is done on all who join. Members were always good about policing members and non-members, seldom was there an underhanded deal. If you were not horse trading savvy, you might not get the best in a trade, but hey you went away having learned something and you would know better next time. We meet once a month with a couple exceptions and it is usually a well-attended show, which was until about a year and a half ago.
There were some new rules imposed on the membership that did not meet with great approval. These were rules imposed on our club supposedly by the State of Washington. It all has to do with those of us that are table holders at shows, now having to be considered as vendors and required to have state business licenses and charge state sales tax. This really ticked off some of our members, myself included. Even though I have a legitimate business, I can sympathize with those who don’t. At these shows we engage in our hobby, our love of firearms that brings us all together. We have always had people with gun businesses at our shows, and they always operate charging tax and filing out the proper state and federal forms. The non-business members came to enjoy the hobby and catch up with old friends while maybe making a deal or two for something new.
Our gun shows have now become like the RV show; all dealers. Very little trading occurs, unless you are trading to a dealer in which case you had better be prepared to take a significant loss on your gun. Our club now treats all of us members as contractors, so we can no longer operate like a private club. A letter was passed around at one of our shows detailing how to get around the new state rules. So they imposed new state rules on the membership and then with no secrecy told us all how to get around them! It was made clear at an emergency board meeting just after this letter made the rounds that the club board had contacted the state and asked if our club was operating correctly. Since the club itself had been made a business under state law all members at gun shows would have to have a business license and be responsible for collection of sales tax on products sold. Let me ask you……If you go and ask the state “Am I paying enough in state sales tax?” Is their response going to be “Oh yes you are paying enough, we don’t need to charge you more.” ? HELL NO it’s not!!! They want every penny they can get and more! The people in charge of our club must be delusional.
Due to this we have lost so much. We have lost a wealth of knowledge in older members who have gotten disgusted and left our ranks. These were the people you went to when you needed answers on a rare gun, or needed to find a hard to get part. These were people who passed to younger generations things that you might not find in a book or on the internet. Not all of our respected elders have given up the fight but many are finding it harder to keep coming. This is a real travesty, and the sad part is we are doing it to ourselves. Fighting and squabbling, letting the almighty dollar dictate our way, sad, very sad.
Mine is not the only club to be suffering from this new kind of self-destruction. I have heard of other clubs in this state, and other states that are suffering this fate. It seems all a club wants is your money and they are very uninterested in hearing any ideas that do not fit with established rules. If you do raise any valid concerns you are punished and had better not speak of it. It is imperative that we come together at a time when total unity is needed. Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or Tea Party Patriot, as gun owners we need to stand shoulder to shoulder. We have to stand up and fight for our rights not fight each other. If you own guns but don’t believe people need a hand gun or what is deemed an assault rifle, you need to put that aside. We have to stick together all of us and fight for the rights of ALL gun owners. Our gun clubs should be our power in political force, not helping to take rights away from us.
In the 90’s when Clinton was not having sexual relations with that women, the Democrats were united behind him. Behind closed doors many of them were disgusted at what he had done. In front of the cameras and in the press however, they all showed calm and reserve. The Republicans were jumping around and showing very little unity. Some, wanted impeachment, others wanted to arrest Clinton, and some were sympathetic. My point is as this was going on, the Democrats crafted the 1994 gun ban, and while Republicans were so preoccupied we got some of the worst legislation crammed down our throats ever by our elected representatives. We all know that the Clinton gun ban, while having a sunset clause…. A last minute Republican idea…..did absolutely nothing to curb criminal gun violence. Everyone was so caught up in Clinton and his zipper, that we the people were the ones who really got screwed.
We are again engaged in fighting and squabbling in DC this time it is over a horrible heath care law that over 70% of us do not want. Distraction was again present when we saw a vote for the UN Small Arms Treaty in the Senate. The ratification was shot down 53 to 46. 53 to 46!!!!!!!! I remember when that would have been a 70 to 30 vote against. Thank God it did not pass, I don’t know about you but I don’t want the likes of Great Britain, France or Russia having a say over what we do inside our sovereign boarders. You’re saying “What about the 2nd Amendment?” The 2nd amendment protects firearms, but there is nothing written in that amendment that protects, ammunition, re-loading supplies, or any other firearm accessory. That is our Achilles heel, because other countries can then control all other aspects of firearms rendering us powerless to fight it.
We must stay vigilant. Those of you who sit on the boards for gun organizations, or are in a leadership position, remember it is the membership of the club that keeps you going. We all love the same thing that is why we belong, to enjoy a hobby and interact with like minded individuals. We can’t possibly hold our politicians feet to the fire on gun rights if we are going to engage in stupid political battles of our own. The battles are for what? To make more money? Please some state official? This kind of thing has to stop, because if it doesn’t, out of control politicians looking to make a name for themselves will beat us into submission and we will be so divided there will be no way to fight back. Our gun clubs are our power to get our message out, we need them. What we also need is for those people that run the clubs not get too big of a head that they do more harm than good for gun owners and screw up the gun clubs at the expense of its membership.