Sunday, September 29, 2019

My 2019 GRPC Address

Hello, my name is Erin Palette. I am the Founder of Operation Blazing Sword and the National Coordinator for the Pink Pistols, which means I am the head of the largest pro-gun queer group in the nation.

I am also a single-issue activist, and that issue is the Second Amendment. Because without the right to keep and bear arms, without the means to defend my life against those who hate me for who I am and who I love, all other rights are meaningless.

This panel is“How to Grow Gun Rights”. What would you say if I told you that there was a veritable ocean of support here in America that, if accessed, would make our Second Amendment rights unassailable by the government? It’s true, but in order to reach them you need to be a single-issue activist like I am.

Let’s do some quick back-of-the-envelope math:
  • The population of America is 327 million people.
  • Reported firearm ownership in America is 30%. We all know it’s higher than that, but let’s go with that low number for now.
  • 30% of 327 million is 98 million and change. Let’s round that up to 100 million to make the math easier and to account for some unreported gun ownership.
  • The biggest gun rights group in America today is, despite their troubles, still the NRA, and their membership is only five million people.
  • Let’s add Gun Owners of America; that’s two million members. The SAF, that’s one million. All of the other groups… maybe all those add up to another 5 million.
  • That still leaves 90 million gun owners who, for whatever reason, aren’t represented by pro-Second Amendment groups which have the ear of Washington, DC.

Pro-gun votes are good and fine and necessary, but if the past year has taught us anything it’s that anti-gun messages need to be stopped, and preferably countered, before they reach the President’s ear.

Now if the NRA, an organization that represents only five percent of all known gun owners, is the Big Bad Boogeyman on Capitol Hill which can scare politicians into doing what they want… can you imagine what a pro-Second Amendment organization representing a voting block of 100 million voters will accomplish?

It will make politicians fetch their brown trousers!

So how do we access this ocean of support? The answer is easy, but the cost is something which many of us will be loathe to give up: our partisanship.

We have pro-Second Amendment allies within the ranks of libertarians and liberals, but some of us are actively turning those allies away by calling them names and wrongly assuming that anyone who isn’t conservative is anti-gun.

I have lost track of the number of people who have told me they are pro-gun, that they own guns, that they believe in gun rights, but they aren’t members of any gun-rights group because those groups have bundled other political views -- such as abortion, or immigration, or economic policy -- into their Second Amendment advocacy. That bundling, that partisanship, that lack of single-issue focus is costing us allies by the tens of millions.

If you are truly a single-issue activist like me, you will reach out to those you call your ideological opponents and, in the name of the Second Amendment --  in the name of keeping ourselves and our families safe -- in the name of freedom-- you will begin a dialog with them about what we have in common, and what we value most, and how we can best come together to defend that which we hold most precious.

If you are truly single-issue, you will teach firearm safety and operation to those with whom you disagree politically. You will take them shooting. You will help them pick out guns for hunting and self-defense and, yes, defense against tyranny. You will show them not just through your words, but also through your actions and through your character, that you truly believe that the Second Amendment is for everyone, including them, not just for those who vote a certain way. To do otherwise means you are letting ideology stand in the way of true Second Amendment activism.

Reach out to liberals. Reach out to minorities. Reach out to queer people. Reach out to everyone you know in order to make them enthusiastic about gun rights.

Make gun rights unassailable by making firearm ownership and activism not just something that conservatives do, or white people do, or old people do. Make it something that American people do. Make the Second Amendment American again. If you do this, I guarantee you that our Second Amendment rights will be preserved for generations to come.

I’m Erin Palette, and I am a single-issue activist. Are you?

*Of course, this assumes that members of GOA, SAF etc aren’t NRA members as well. Actual membership overlap is likely somewhere between “many” and “most”, in which case there are yet millions more gun owners unrepresented in Washington, D.C. 

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