This Is Not The Rally You Want

Over the weekend, there was a “gun right rally”.

The rally was put on by a group called “Minnesota Gun Rights”.  We’ve addressed this group in the past – for being a scam that fleeces Minnesota gun owners, and is politically ineffective at best (and at worst, they do more harm than good).   Some legislators that once supported it have seen the light and condemned the group as a scam.

Unfortunately, the media doesn’t know the difference between gun rights groups; many Twin Cities news outlets credited the Minnesota Gun Owners’ Caucus and the Gun Owners Political Action Committee for the event (as they giggled about the fairly sparse turnout a week after 20,000 Hoggites turned out for the “Stop Shooting White Kids!”  rally the week before).

The real rally, sponsored by MNGOC, the GOPAC, the NRA and other actual gun rights groups is coming up on April 28 at noon at the Capitol.  This will be the time that all law-abiding gun owners should plan on being at the Capitol to demonstrate for their rights, and against the attempt to whittle them away – from both sides of the aisle, it pains me to say.

It takes place during my show – but I’m going to try to be there anyway.

The Long Con

Matt Windschitl called out “Iowa Gun Owners” as a scam from the floor of the Iowa state legislature.    We’ve met Windschitl in this space before; I’ve interviewed him on my show,

Iowa Gun Owners is the Iowa “branch” of the “Minnesota Gun Rights”. – which is a misnomer, as MGR actually is headquartered in Iowa.

Windschitl savaged IGO for taking credit for Iowa’s recent passage of “Stand Your Ground” legislation, pointing out that not a single legislator had heard from Aaron Dorr, and the group had not even registered as lobbyists.

The TV story shown in the link above notes that Aaron Dorr doesn’t take a salary “from the group”, and that most of the group’s  nearly $300,000 in donations went to “direct mail” expenses.

Unmentioned;  the Dorr Brothers own the direct mail company that serves IGO, Minnesota Gun Rights, and several other state gun and pro-life groups.

This is the first serious media attention that’s been paid to the Dorr brothers’ operations.  It should not be the last.

Iowa “Minnesota” Flim-Flammers

We’ve written at some depth in the past about Minnesota Gun Rights – an astroturf fundraising group that raises a lot of money and generates a lot of strident social media about 2nd Amendment politics in Minnesota, but has never actually delivered any significant results.   A bipartisan selection of Minnesota’s most committed pro-human-rights legislators repudiated MGR a few years back.

In 2014, they dropped a few boxes of literature in the Roz Peterson race in Burnsville – and claimed credit for the victory.  This, and a couple of misplaced ads on AM1130, were their total effort that cycle.

In this primary cycle, they sent a lot of email to the Hackbarth/Bahr race, and also direct-mailed GOP activists in the Daudt/Duff race.

Well, guess what?

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MGR is claiming credit for Cal Bahr’s victory over Hackbarth in HD31B – as seen in the social-media meme that’s been circulating all day today

Near as I’ve been able to find from my sources on the subject, MGR’s entire “campaign” in the Bahr/Hackbarth contest was email.

But let’s break it down:  Tom Hackbarth had:

  • become not especially popular in his district anymore
  • lost the endorsement of a district with a very well-organized party unit.
  • not lost the endorsement of either of Minnesota’s legitimate human rights groups (GOCRA and MNGOPAC/MNGOC), due to his flawless human rights voting record – but then, Bahr looks very strong on the issue, too, and both groups noted it).

So sure.  Of course a couple of emails from MGR did the trick.

Of course, MGR expended even more effort in the Daudt/Duff race next door in 31A, apparently even sending paper mail – a sign of real commitment.

And the results?  Daudt stomped Duff.

Rob Doar of MNGOPAC/MNGOC said in social media “[MGR] swung much… much harder at Daudt, who won with over 72% of the vote…If they had any sort of political power, it surely would have manifested next door in 31A.  They are riding coattails, spinning stories…”

Friends don’t let friends repeat MGR claims.

Drama

I got this in the mail from Minnesota’s largest Iowa-based gun rights group:

Dear Helmut,

 

SHUT UP AND GO AWAY.

That’s the message supposedly “pro-Second Amendment” State House Leaders in St. Paul are sending to Second Amendment supporters all over Minnesota on Stand-Your-Ground.

Now, I’m counting on you to remind them who they were elected to represent in the first place!

Of course, as we noted a few weeks back, Minnesota’s legislature not only passed five fairly important pieces of Second Amendment human rights legislation – Permit Reciprocity, barring confiscations during emergencies, eliminating the capitol felony trap, and legalizing federally-permitted suppressors and buying long guns in non-contiguous states – but they passed it with a bipartisan majority in both chambers, including the DFL-controlled Senate, and Governor Dayton signed it.  He’d promised to veto any bill including legalized suppressors, but – here’s the amazing part – he was actually convinced, in a rational, factual, lucid discussion with a Second Amendment activist, to change his mind.

Let’s make sure we’re clear on this:  the Governor flipped on suppressors after a second amendment activist who’d spent years building relationships at the capitol got a five minute window to argue the case.

Not by stomping and banging the table.

Which brings us back to the letter, from “Minnesota Gun Rights'” Chris Dorr:

The truth is, after the results of the 2014 elections –-where gun-grabbers were defeated in droves at the polls — I know many Second Amendment supporters were counting on the new House majority to keep their promises to defend and advance critical self-defense legislation. . .

Which, as noted above, they did.

But that’s apparently not what the letter is about:

But just recently, several Minnesota State Representatives signed an open letter plastered all over Minnesota’s political blogs stating Stand-Your-Ground was going nowhere!

I can’t tell you how incensed I became when I read this open letter!

Mr. Dorr – please do tell us how incensed you were.

Also, please tell us about this letter that said “Stand Your Ground” was dead.  Because I can only remember one open letter from legislators this past session; this one.

And I’d love to know what you’re talking about, since “Stand your Ground” wasn’t really on the agenda this session.  The Governor vetoed it, and after a year of propaganda after the Trayvon Martin circus, it’s kinda a hard sell in a DFL-led Senate.  It’ll be back, someday – ideally with a pro-Second-Amendment Senate and Governor.

‘Til then, it’s just…well, stomping your feet and pounding your desk.

Of course, I know many weak-kneed and anti-gun politicians hate organizations like Minnesota Gun Rights because we don’t cut smoky backroom deals, or hit the cocktail circuit with them at the state capital.

Y’see, Chris, that’s the kind of talk that impresses people who’ve never had to try to convince a politician, or a voter, to change their vote.

In fact, the only “convincing” that Minnesota Gun Rights has done this past session was to persuade 16 pro-Second-Amendment legislators that MGR was all flannel shirt and no Paul Bunyan:

 

Included in the list are all the authors of all five Second Amendment bills that passed.  And Tony Cornish, the chair of the House Public Safety committee, who shepherded all five bills through the House unscathed, and a genuine Second Amendment hero in Minnesota.

And – let’s let this sink in for a moment – Steve Drazkowski, author of our last Stand Your Ground Bill.

The bill that Minnesota Gun Rights is wrapping itself in in this letter.

And now, the call to action:

That’s why I’m counting on your IMMEDIATE action.

With session out, the time to identify, prepare and mobilize for 2016 is now, and I’m determined to turn up the heat like never before…

That would actually be entirely accurate; any actual heat from MGR on the issue would be unprecedented.

…with a massive program, including:

>>> Generating 25,000 YOU WORK FOR US! petitions from all over Minnesota insisting the State Legislature passes Stand-Your-Ground;

>>> Using email, social media and Internet ads to mobilize an additional 10,000 Minnesotans from all over the state;

>>> Working the blogs and granting media interviews to explain exactly why Stand-Your-Ground would make Minnesota freer and safer;

In other words, stuff that any guy can do for free, on Facebook and via email.

>>> Paying for hard-hitting radio, newspaper and internet ads to ensure politicians are feeling the most heat right before they’re forced to vote.

Which brings up an interesting question.

“Minnesota Gun Rights” has been raising a lot of money for a long time now.  In the 2014 cycle, they dropped literature in one district (Roz Peterson’s), which had no discernible effect on the race, and a few in Ron Latz’s utterly safe DFL district, which was really more of a frat prank than a campaign activity.   Reportedly, four of them, airing on one day before the election, on AM1130 – 99% of whose audience would vote pro-Second Amendment no matter what. For a grand total of about $800-1,000.  Not “before they were forced to vote”, but before election day.

For all that fundraising, we get Facebook, a few reams of literature, and one day’s worth of radio ads targeting people who are going to vote pro-gun anyway.

For this, they’re fundraising?

So please sign your YOU WORK FOR US! petition and submit it to me along with your most generous contribution of $100, $50, $30 or at least $10!

For Freedom,

Chris Dorr
Executive Director

P.S. Just a few weeks ago, several Minnesota State Representatives signed an open letter plastered all over Minnesota’s political blogs stating Stand-Your-Ground was going nowhere!…

Wait – didn’t we read that already?

It’s like…deja vu.

In so many ways.

Perfect Is The Enemy Of Good

I need to get in shape.  The best way to do this is to win the Olympic Decathlon – because those people are in the best shape in the world.  I’ve decided that if I’m going to do anything about my physical fitness, it’ll be “win the Olympic Decathlon”.

“But Mitch”, you may ask, “how do you plan on getting into that kind of shape?”

You’re not paying attention.  I said my goal is to “win the Olympic Decathlon”.  It’s not to “spend years training to be in the Olympic Decathlon”.  Training is not winning.  They’re completely different words.  If I win, by definition, I’ll be in amazing shape.

“But Mitch”, you may continue to hector me, “nobody, not even the most amazing athletes, competes at level without years of…”

And I’ll cut you off right there.  You’re clearly not listening.  I’ll win the Olympic Decathlon.  Then I’ll be in shape.  Any questions?

Jeez,  You people are such Real Athletes In Name Only (REANOs).

Much Ado About Ado:  We’ve written before about the entire group of organizations aligned with the “National Association of Gun Rights” (NAGR), including “Iowa Gun Owners” (IGO), and their Minnesota “cousins”, “Minnesota Gun Rights” (MGR).  I put “cousins” in scare quotes, because the groups are really one and the same; they’re both run by the Dorr Brothers out of Des Moines; occasionally, they don‘t even get all the “Iowa” references out of their Minnesota fundraising materials.  It’s gotten to the point that a bipartisan group of pro-Second-Amendment legislators – including some who supported MGR in the past – have come out against them for raising lots of money but not actually doing anything with it.   Their defenders note that they did drop some fliers and ran two – two! – radio ads supporting Roz Peterson in Burnsville; their detractors note that their lack of registrations with the state mean they were strictly limited in the amount of money they could spend – as in, $1,500 or so – and that the Peterson race was not decided on gun issues and, for that matter, nobody thinks their involvement made a stitch of difference in Peterson’s victory.

But that’s yesterday’s news.

This week, the Iowa Firearms Coalition fired a broadside at IGO for opposing an omnibus gun rights bill.

Give Me Everything I Want, Or Give Me Nothing I Need:  The omnibus bill covers a wide swathe of gun rights projects:  preventing the media from getting permittees’ personal information, removing the ban on parents teaching their kids to shoot, making permits attach to the person rather than the gun, allowing people whose permits are denied to seek reimbursement if the denial is overturned, and a slew of other things (that make me praise the wisdom of the crew that wrote Minnesota’s carry law.

And IGO is against it.   Instead, they are pushing – as they did two years ago – a “Constitutional Carry” bill”, similar to the laws in Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming and Vermont.

Nothing wrong with Constitutional Carry; it affirms that the Constitution grants us a right to keep and bear arms; no law-abiding citizen should have to ask, or pay, the state to exercise their rights.

Nobody disagrees.

But IGO is under the impression that any effort spent on “lesser” bills legitimizes state control over your right to keep and bear arms, and reduces the chance of winning full constitutional carry.  And so they’re fighting against Iowa’s Omnibus Gun Bill:

This same group actively lobbied against the Shall Issue concealed carry reforms we passed 5 years ago. If they had their way we’d still be holding out for a “perfect firearms bill” that never had a chance at passing. Had they been successful hundreds of thousands of Iowans would not be able enjoy the freedom to lawfully carry concealed weapons that we enjoy today. Instead of working to protect and enhance the Second Amendment rights of Iowans by any means possible, this group of gun owners would rather gamble everything on improbable, all or nothing, high stakes bills. This approach is almost always guaranteed to fail and their track record proves it. Not one single piece of pro-gun legislation they’ve sponsored has ever reached the Governor’s desk, let alone been signed into law.

Now they’re up to their same old tricks, working again in lock step with Bloomberg and Company, this time to kill Iowa’s Omnibus Gun Bill.

Long story short, IGO is helping the Bloomberg repress gun rights in Iowa.  And unless you live in Wyoming or Alaska, winning Constitutional Carry is going to be long, drawn-out process of winning hearts and minds, rather than my campaign to win the decathlon.

Problem is, they want to do the same thing in Minnesota.

“Incrementalism Is A Four Letter Word”:  Every gun rights group that matters has “Constitutional Carry” as a goal.  Some – the NRA – are exceedingly pragmatic about it.  Others – GOCRA – see it, correctly, as something that, like “Shall Issue”, is going to take years of lobbying, education and hard political work.  This includes teaching a legislature – which is is mostly pro-gun, even on the DFL side – the benefits of Constitutional Carry in a state that, in case you hadn’t noticed, isn’t much like Wyoming or Arizona.

But IGO, and it’s Minnesota cousin branch office MGR, take the tack that spending time and effort on anything “less” than Constitutional Carry not only legitimizes the gun control that exists, but makes it less likely we’ll ever get Constitutional Carry.

Both claims are absurd, of course; gun control was imposed piecemeal over decades as media and liberal propaganda affected voters’ attitudes about guns; undoing the attitudes will take time (although the process is well underway).   Does anyone think that the gun movement should have held off on filing the Heller and McDonald cases, and waited for the One Big Case To Throw All Gun Control Laws Out?  Does anyone think winning “shall issue” in Illinois makes it less likely that Illinois will ever further loosen their restrictions?

Magical Thinking:  NAGR is run by one Dudley Brown – who was highly involved in Ron Paul’s various campaigns for President.  The IGO/MGR’s Dorr Brothers are  linked to Ted Sorenson, an Iowa Ron Paul mover and shaker at the center of a scandal involving Michele Bachmann.   Some of MGR’s most prominent adherents in Minnesota were also heavily involved in the Ron Paul effort, and are still involved with “Liberty” groups.

Nothing wrong with that.

Except that too many “Liberty” groups believe that if you “stick to your principles” and think big thoughts and accept no compromise, freedom just happens.

I’m oversimplifying, of course.  Or perhaps I’m overcomplicating.  If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about many of the ranks of Ron Paul / “Liberty” supporters, it’s that they want to change the world in big ways, but they seem to eschew the idea of doing it through the political process, which they seem to deem too corrupt.

And so MGR, like its IGO home office, has gathered about it a lot of people who want big changes, and like to think and argue big thoughts about those changes…

…but can’t spell out a way to actually get the law changed so that their big ideas become actual policy.

I’ve tried.  Oh, Lord, I’ve tried. I’ve challenged MGR supporters; “You want Constitutional Carry or nothing? OK – in a state where the idea of “people carrying guns without permits” scares the crap out of at least half the voters, and whose votes count as much as yours do, how do you get to passing a law?”

The answers get more and more vague the more you press them, and always devolve back to one form of “magical thinking” or another.  *

At any rate; beware of people promising big results if you just belieeeeve.  And give.  Because in politics more than most parts of life, if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

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Every Iowan A King – In Minnesota

A few months back, we talked about a group – Minnesota Gun Rights (MGR) – which has been trying to make inroads into the Minnesota second amendment market.  MGR is run by Chris Dorr, brother of Aaron Dorr, who runs “Iowa Gun Owners” (IGO), and was closely involved in the Ted Sorenson scandal in Iowa.   IGO has a reputation of cutting off gun owners’ political noses to spite their faces.  They are closely aligned with the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR),  has an extremely spotty record of accomplishment, and that is very likely being charitable; to say the least, their grasp of Minnesota politics is spotty.  Oh, yeah – and the website for both the IGO and MGR are hosted in Iowa.

Today’s installment?  Probably not quite as earth-shaking – but worth a look.

It’s a petition to restore “Constitutional Carry” – carry by law-abiding citizens without need for a permit, as in Alaska, Arizona and Vermont – to Minnesota.  They say “restore” because until 1974, anyone in Minnesota who had the legal right to own a firearm at all could carry it, concealed, without a permit of any kind.

I forget – was crime lower in Minnesota back in 1973?  Or higher?

Anyway – that’s all to the good.  It’s also pie in the sky, in a state with a DFL governor and legislature.

But the petition has one other minor, more proximate flaw:

And while it’s just a typo on a petition, we’ve noted in the past the political problems caused by the IGO’s uncompromising push for pie-in-the-sky.  The way to get to “Constitutional Carry” is by electing a conservative legislature and governor.

UPDATE:  A correspendent sends me another, er, Minnesota Gun Rights emailer:

I love that second paragraph. Would a “true grassroots movement” maybe get it’s state correct?

Carpetbaggers: Of Moo And Cow

Last week, we looked at a troika of “gun rights” groups and their singular and plural records.

Last Tuesday, we showed you a fundraising letter for a group called Minnesota Gun Rights (MGR) that Minnesota Second Amendment activists have been getting.  In the letter – from “Minnesota Gun Rights” executive director Chris Dorr – the sky will fall if the reader doesn’t support the group.

Wednesday, we got a perspective from Iowa on the effectiveness of the Iowa Gun Owners (IGO), run by Aaron Dorr, the brother of MGR’s Executive Director – or, according to an Iowa legislator who’s seen it first hand, the lack of effectiveness.

Thursday we looked at the ties between the Dorr brothers and the scandal that rocked the Michele Bachmann campaign in Iowa – and to the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR), a group that earned a reputation for having a big bark but not much bite for the relative impotence of its battle against the anti-rights onslaught in Colorado last session.  We also noted that “Minnesotagunrights.org” is actually registered in Van Meter Iowa.

Friday, we showed that an alarmist fund-raising letter aimed at Minnesotans from the NAGR’s Dudley Brown, that was wrong on nearly every possible point – almost too devoid of fact to have come from Heather Martens.

And today?

More on that in a moment.

In Defense:  Last week, a local Libertarian activist well-known for his involvement in the “Ron Paul” clicque takeover of parts of the MN GOP in 2012 posted the following on his Facebook page.  I won’t name the activist here; let’s call him “Paul Robertson” just to avoid confusion.

I’m adding emphasis:

I have met Chris Dorr and and have worked some of the people helping him on projects in the state. A recent hit piece from a Minnesota establishment blogger noted the connection Chris has to the National Association for Gun Rights.

I’m an “establishment blogger?”

Who knew?

I digress:

NAGR operations chief Dudley Brown is an effective political operative who, an as RNC Rules Committeemember, was a leader at the national convention fighting the establishment power grab. One gets onto the RNC Rules committee by earning the support of entire state and CD conventions, something that is impossible for sham groups to do.

And there’s the point, right there.

Forget for a moment that “Mr. Robertson” is referring to Mr. Brown’s role in the picayune rules battle at the last Republican National Convention that pitted “the establishment” against the thin coterie of Ron Paul delegates (a rules change I oppose, for what very little it’s worth).

The two responses to this are:

  1. So What?:   The most we can take from “Mr. Robertson’s” statement is that Mr. Brown can organize caucusees into a group that creates a ruckus to no real immediate effect.
  2. That’s What!:  Badda bing.  Re-read #1.

In party politics as well as gun politics, Dudley Brown of the National Association for Gun Rights would seem – by his record, even as emphasized by his local supporter, the pseudonymic “Mr. Robertson” – to be about making the big, “my way or the highway” policy pronouncements that drum up much noise but signify little-to-nothing.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with noise.  And Minnesota’s current gun-rights groups – MN-RKBA, GOCRA, and even the NRA (which for the first time in my 25 years of watching the issue in this state is finally starting to take an active role at the Capitol) create plenty of it.  Over this past session, they put thousands of people into meeting rooms, and mobilized tens of thousands of phone calls, emails and letters.  Minnesota’s legislators know where the people of Minnesota stand on the issue – which is why even though the DFL controls the legislature and the governor’s office, and their financial supporters are buying support in the mainstream media, the anti-rights agenda was humiliated this past session.

But there needs to be more than just noise.  If a group can’t deliver results at the Capitol in terms of bad policy shot down and good policy enacted, then why support them?

Minnesota’s gun rights groups – NRA, GOCRA/GOAL, MN-RKBA and the rest – have a record of not just making noise, but winning battles.  Of not just getting people riled up, but getting them focused in a direction that, in good times, expands the human right of self-defense.  Never forget – the battle for “shall issue” carry permitting lasted 10 years, from 1995 to 2005.  The goal was achieved not just by getting people riled up – but by focusing all that passion on results.  And frequently needing to do it against adversity; remember, the DFL controlled the legislature before 2002, and have held at least one chamber for all but two years in recent memory.  And we’ve had exactly eight years of conservative-enough governor in the past thirty (forget about Jesse Ventura).

The Challenge:   But there’s certainly a market for groups in any facet of politics, including Gun Rights, that lead with “death or glory”; “our way or the highway”.  Gun Owners of America (GOA) split off from the NRA 20-odd years ago because they thought the NRA wasn’t activist enough.  And they were right.  And the exodus of members concerned with gun rights spurred the NRA to more, more effective political activism.

But hard-line as they are, the GOA has actually had an effect on politics.  They’ve done things; mobilized voters, won some battles through their own lobbying and activism and shoe leather.

I’m not going to tell you what to think about “Minnesota Gun Rights”, the group we met last Tuesday via its alarmed-sounding fund-raising letter to Minnesota gun owners.

I am going to tell you to consider the evidence;

  • “Minnesota Gun Rights” (MGR) is tightly related to “Iowa Gun Owners” – their directors are brothers, and both groups’ websites are registered in Iowa (here’s MGR, here’s IGO)
  • As related by Iowa state representative Matt Windschitl – a pro-gun legislator – IGO has a record of being utterly useless in actually passing legislation, has actually hampered the passage of useful legislation, and claims credit for passing legislation in which they were utterly uninvolved.   You don’t have to believe me – listen to him yourself.
  • The Dorr brothers were intimately involved in the scandal that has dogged Representative Bachmann – the payment-for-endorsement scandal that led to the resignation of an Iowa state Senator.  So someday if Chris Dorr testifies in front of the Public Safety committee, you think Doug Grow (of the Joyce-Foundation-sponsored MinnPost) won’t bring that up to discredit all gun rights advocates?   You think “Protect Minnesota’s” new PR guy Richard Carlbom won’t dangle that factoid in front of Tom Scheck and Pat Kessler?
  • Both the Dorrs are closely involved with the “National Association for Gun Rights”, a group run by Dudley Brown.  NAGR – like Brown and the Dorrs – are closely aligned with the Ron Paul camp; that’s not a bad thing by itself, necessarily.  But it does tip you off to their “all or nothing” approach.   And whatever their political allegiance, while NAGR is long on uncompromising rhetoric, when it comes to the day to day politics of winning the legislative battle for our rights, their record gives the appearance of being all moo and no cow, or worse (to say nothing of willing to misrepresent current events and politicians’ positions here in Minnesota).

Let me be clear here, personally – when it comes to fighting the anti-rights orcs, as far as I’m concerned we should let a thousand lights shine.

But Iowa Gun Owners and the NAGR would seem to have a record of underdelivering on its overpromised rhetoric.  And MGR has no record at all, other than of association with the IGO and NAGR.

Ask yourself – should your hard-earned money be going to a run rights group that has an actual record of delivering people, votes, and policy?  Minnesota already has several of those.  We could use more – as many as it takes to get every possible Minnesota shooter to the polls, and toss every possible orc out of the Legislature and the Governor’s office.

Is there any evidence that Minnesota Gun Rights, Iowa Gun Owners or the National Association for Gun Rights have done anything documentably useful?  Bills passed (through their efforts)?  Lawsuits won?  Chambers packed?  Legislators elected?

I’m waiting to see it.

But it’s your call.

Carpetbaggers: Not Of This World

Tuesday, we showed you a fundraising letter for a group called Minnesota Gun Rights (MGR) that Minnesota Second Amendment activists have been getting.

Wednesday, we got a perspective from Iowa on the effectivess of the Iowa Gun Owners (IGO), run by the brother of MGR’s Executive Director.

Yesterday, we looked at the ties between the Dorr brothers, Aaron (of the IGO) and Chris (of MGR) to the scandal that rocked the Michele Bachmann campaign in Iowa – and to the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR).  We also noted that “Minnesotagunrights.org” is actually registered in Van Meter Iowa. 

We’re going to look more into the NAGR today.

Interpretations:  Last year, Minnesota Second Amendment activists hailing from a variety of groups got together and pulled off an amazing feat; in a state government completely controlled not only by Democrats, but dominated by extremist, gun-hating Metrocrats, managed to completely shut down a concerted anti-Second Amendment attack, in the wake of one of the most horrific school massacres since the 1920s.

It took a lot of work; painstaking mobilization of thousands of activists, fundraising, intensive lobbying of legislators, communications both on Capitol Hill and all across Minnesota.

Most of all, it took coalition-building.  Gun rights advocates from all groups had to build working relationships with legislators from the famously gun-unfriendly DFL, because – in case you missed in the first time – the DFL had complete control of the legislature and the Governor’s office.

Remember – the DFL started with a raft of bills; expanded gun-free zones, magazine restrictions, bans on weapons that looked cosmetically “assault”-y, handing control of carry permit applications over to the police (who unlike the sheriff do not answer to voters, ever), and a good half a dozen other noxious provisions.

Minnesota’s Second Amendment community had to get legislators on both sides of the aisle to agree to push back against the gun grab bills.

Remember – if Minnesota Democrats had merely closed ranks behind the Metrocrat hamsters that control most of the party’s agenda, today Minnesota’s gun laws would look like New York State, Colorado or California.

Politics – especially when you’re in a minority – is always a matter of give and take.  And yet Minnesota’s Second Amendment movement gave much worse than it got – in large part because of the tsunami of popular support they mustered, week in week out, and kept in legislators’ faces.

Here’s the important part:  the victory (and it was a victory) was won not by “stating a principle”, turning off the phone and chanting like a robot.  It was won by knowing the principle, (“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”) and fighting a sharp, well-organized political battle to build a diverse coalition that would, via acceptable compromises, ensure the actual policy that got enacted didn’t violate the principle, if not reinforcing it. 

And in a session where the worst was not only possible, but in terms of absolute political numbers very, very likely, the mainstream Second Amendment movement won a victory.  No, not a “victory” in the sense that we dragged Heather Martens and Michael Bloomberg onto the deck of the USS MIssouri to sign articles of surrender.  More like Keith Park winning the Battle of Britain.

Which, whether your opponent controls all of Europe or all of the apparatus of Minnesota government, is a win. 

Alternate Reality:  Dudley Brown is in charge of the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR).  The group bills itself as the conservative alternative to the NRA, which it regards as squishy moderates and accomodationists.  The group is closely tied with the Iowa Gun Owners (IGO) group, which we showed yesterday is closely tied with Minnesota Gun Rights (MGR).

And I think it’d be fair to sum up NAGR’s philosophy is “better to lose a symbolic battle for perfection than win battle for good if imperfect policy”. 

It’s a philosophy shared by not a few very ideological activists – pro-lifers, pro-abortionists, Libertarians, you name it. 

And during Minnesota’s gun debate last session, Brown sent an email to his group’s supporters in Minnesota about the Hillstrom gun bill – which I called “The Good Gun Bill” on this blog, because it focused on criminals and bad behavior, rather than attacking the law-abiding gun owner (which is something many Second Amendment supporters call “the goal”). 

Here’s the text of the bills in both the Senate and the House.  You be the judge.

I’ll include the email from Dudley Brown in its entirety below the fold – along with some commentary where called for.

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Carpetbaggers: In The Out Dorr

On Tuesday, we showed you a fundraising appeal from a group, “Minnesota Gun Rights” (MGR).  MGR is making an entry into the Minnesota Second Amendment battle.

Yesterday, we talked with an Iowa State Representative, Matt Windschitl, who pointed out that a group called the “Iowa Gun Owners” (IGO) had been talking big talk, but not delivering much – indeed, making things worse in terms of practical, day-to-day pro-Second-Amendment legislation.

As Representative Windschitl pointed out, the leader of IGO was an Aaron Dorr.

And as we saw from the fundraising letter, the Executive Director of MGR is Chris Dorr.

Who are the Dorrs?

To introduce the Dorrs and their group, we’ll start in the Minnesota Sixth Congressional District.

Your Niche Is On My List:  Few outside the world of professional and semi-pro wonkery really understood the scandal involving Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Iowa state senator Ted Sorenson.  There were allegations of payments to support Bachmann (and Ron Paul).  Eventually, the allegations led to the Iowa Senate Ethics committee investigating Sorenson, and finally his resignation from the Senate.

Aaron Dorr – the leader of the IGO – was, according to this piece in the Iowa Republican, intimately involved in the deal to buy Sorenson’s support away from Bachmann and for Ron Paul.  I’ll add some emphasis:

New information has been provided to TheIowaRepublican.com that details the courting of Sorenson by the Paul campaign, which began in October 2011, long before his public endorsement of Congressman Ron Paul on December 28, 2011.  The documents also show that Sorenson was negotiating with Ron Paul’s national campaign chairman, Jesse Benton, who is now running Mitch McConnell’s 2014 re-election campaign in Kentucky, and John Tate, Paul’s 2012 campaign manager.

Also involved in the elaborate scheme to persuade Sorenson to defect from Bachmann to Paul is Aaron Dorr, the Executive Director of Iowa Gun Owners Association.  Dorr served as an early negotiator between Sorenson and the Paul campaign.  It was Dorr who drafted a three-page memo outlining Sorenson’s financial demands to get him to jump ship from the Bachmann campaign.  This memo not only discloses the financial compensation Sorenson sought to obtain, but also details his financial agreement with Bachmann.

In addition to the alleged payoffs, Bachmann’s angle involved allegations of stolen mailing list of Iowa homeschoolers,  provided to the Bachmann campaign by – according to the Strib – Chris Dorr was the one who nabbed the mailing list:

In a recent affidavit, [here] Sorenson aide Christopher Dorr acknowledged going into Heki’s office and downloading a database from her computer in the belief that it was a campaign e-mail list. “The office maintained an open environment,” he said. “There was never a need for stealth activity.”

Dorr’s account, however, contradicts a 2012 affidavit from former Bachmann campaign manager Eric Woolson, who said Sorenson told him “we took ” the list and that those involved “stood watch” while Heki was out of the office.

Campaign insiders have suggested that the NICHE list was important to help Bachmann check the momentum of GOP rival Rick Santorum, who was making inroads with Christian conservatives on his way to winning the Iowa caucuses.

Waldron, who has also given an account to investigators, said he told Bachmann about the incident on December 18, 2012, but that the campaign took no action against Sorenson, who later defected to the Ron Paul campaign.

Both of the Dorrs, by the way, are the sons of longtime Iowa political consultant Paul Dorr, who in all honesty I need to point out is not only a scorched-earth political absolutist, but the winner of a lawsuit that is very important for gun owners – and especially skeptics of gun owners’ “slippery slope” – to be familiar with.   The elder Dorr is a longtime Liberty activist.

So – who are the Dorrs – leaders of the Iowa Gun Owners (Aaron) and Minnesota Gun Rights (Chris)?  You be the judge.

The Faint Smell Of Scorched Earth:  One more thing – the Iowa Gun Owners is closely affiliated with the National Association of Gun Rights (NAGR), a national group led by Dudley Brown.  NAGR posits itself as a conservative counterpart to the National Rifle Association, which it constantly portrays as a bunch of squishy, anti-gun accomodationists – rhetoric very similar to that used in Chris Dorr’s fundraising letter, which Representative Windschitl noted looks nearly identical to NAGR’s fundraising boilerplate.

NAGR seems to spend as much time fighting the NRA as they do the gun-grabbers.

And – like the IGO’s counterproductive grandstanding that Rep. Windschitl noted yesterday – when it comes to the politics involved in actually getting legislation passed that actually protects gun owners and the Second Amendment, they can be frightfully amateurist.

How does this relate to Minnesota, and the MGR fundraising letter we talked about on Tuesday?

More tomorrow.

I Mix Them Up Myself:  By the way – as one might expect, the “Iowa Gun Owners” website is registered in Iowa.

And so is the site for Minnesota Gun Rights; Chris Dorr registered the site in Van Meter, Iowa.

Carpetbaggers: All Or Nothing, And Nothing

Yesterday, we discussed a package that Minnesota gun rights activists have been receiving from a group calling itself “Minnesota Gun Rights”. 

I ran a bit of video from Representative Matt Windschitl, running down a group called the “Iowa Gun Owners”.

It was a pretty acerbic video. And it opened up some questions; what was the argument about? Who did what to whom?

And who are “Iowa Gun Owners”?

Blown Up: I called Representative Windschitl yesterday.  We talked for about a half hour.  The keystone of the conversation was an incident in the Iowa legislature in 2011.  As Windschitl relates, the GOP caucus was pushing a bill in both chambers to allow combat veterans who’d suffered from PTSD, and had that notification put into the national NICS databases (disqualifying them from gun purchases) an avenue to get their rights restored. 

There had been, earlier in the session, a debate about introducing “Alaska Carry” – legalizing carry without a permit, as in Alaska, Vermont and Arizona – and/or “Constitutional Carry” (making carry laws a part of the Constitution) in Iowa.  The bill had died…

…but the measure to restore veterans’ rights was alive and well, and had passed the Senate.   All it needed was to pass the House. 

Said Windschitl, “we took months to get everyone in on it.  The NRA, Aaron Dorr (leader of Iowa Gun Owners) – we were going to write some bridge language [to make the bill mesh with the Senate version for easy passage].

Then, says Windschitl, “an hour before the final debate on the bill [to restore veterans’ rights], a [junior GOP rep and IGO supporter] intorduced a “kill all” amendment reintroducing “Constitutional Carry”. 

The Speaker and the legislator spent hours on procedural maneuvering – attempts to suspend the rules and other parliamentary shenanigans, all of which failed. 

As did the prospects for either restoring veterans’ rights and “Constitutional Carry”, in that session. 

“It killed the bill”, said Windschitl. 

Came On Strong:  Windschitl – who describes himself as a strong Second Amendment legislator, and his record supports the claim – recalls first hearing about Iowa Gun Owners. 

“When I saw my first letter, I thought “all right”.  At that time, the NRA had been pretty much absent from Iowa”.  Windschitl noted that IGO’s tough rhetoric was attractive to legislators who wanted to mobilize some serious muscle to fight for gun rights in Iowa – a state that was very late to the table in liberalizing gun laws. 

But the honeymoon was short-lived, said Windschitl; “I saw all kinds of representatives get taken in – and get burned”. 

The  problem – one of the problems, anyway – was all that tough rhetoric meant exactly that; if they didn’t get everything they wanted, they wanted nothing.  If you supported them 99%, it was the same as opposing them. 

Windschitl isn’t the only one to notice this.  The left-leaning “Bleeding Heartland” blog, in a piece written by “DesmoinesDem”, notes (with emphasis added by me):

 Founded in 2009, Iowa Gun Owners is quick to bash Republicans and other groups it considers unprincipled. Its leaders have even labeled GOP State Representative Clel Baudler, a member of the National Rifle Association’s board, as “notoriously anti-gun.” How far out there do you have to be to consider the NRA anti-gun? Iowa Gun Owners refuses to get involved in supporting gun legislation that supposedly doesn’t go far enough in protecting the Second Amendment.

Windschitl – with a long record as a Second Amendment torch-carrier – notes that Iowa Gun Owners have attacked him.  “It’s like any hint of compromise means you’re out of the club!”.

And Nothing At All:  Of course, IGO isn’t the only group in politics that considers any effort focused less than 100% on principle as no effort at all.  It’s satisfying rhetoric, of course – but it also means that any time you don’t have absolute control of the legislature, you get nothing you want passed into law to form actual policy. 

Like losing the restoration of Second Amendment rights for veterans, over a doomed attempt to get a “Constitutional Carry” provision that was not going to pass under any circumstances. 

There are times, especially in politics, where perfect truly is the enemy of good enough. 

But for that to be an issue, you have to actually be trying for either. 

With that in mind, let’s go back to the video of Representative Windschitl from yesterday:

Here’s the transcript of the video:

“This morning I saw an email from a so-called Second Amendment organization. That organization, in a roundabout way, was trying to take credit for helping to get this [pro Second Amendment] bill to the floor and working it through the process. It’s not the first time this organization has done that. I want to be clear to Iowans – I want to be clear to anyone that’s watching this video right now; that organization’s executive director is Aaron Dorr; he’s the executive director of Iowa Gun Owners. Here’s the message; he did not lift a single finger to move this [pro second amendment] legislation forward. In fact, he never even chose to register on the original house file, House File 81. And he did not choose to register on this [pro second amendment] legislation before us now. The organizations that have brought this legislation to us today, to protect Iowans, are the National Rifle Association, the Iowa Firearms Coalition, the Iowa State Sheriffs and Deputies Association, and the Iowa Police Association. Those are the organizations that have spent time and effort to make sure we’re doing right by Iowans. So for those Iowans out there who have been getting these deceptive, misleading emails, rest assured – we are doing your business in an up front, honest manner…

 What happened there?

Windschitl told me the clip was “about a bill that would have made carry permit data private information, to prevent newspapers from  publishing the names of people with permits”. 

“There was no contact from Iowa Gun Owners on the bill.  No support at all”.   The newspapers – especially the Des Moines Register  – were pushing to stop the bill; newspapers love harassing the law-abiding gun owner.  Still, as the vote drew near, things were looking good.  The GOP caucus and the various other Second Amendment groups had the votes.  The bill was going to pass.

The night before the final vote on the bill, Windschitl was directed to a posting on the IGO Facebook page; “The Iowa Gun Owners took credit for the bill!” 

The next morning, the Speaker of the House – Kraig Paulsen, another Second Amendment stalwart – told Windschitl “you have the bully pulpit”, in Windschitl’s words.  

The results?  Well, you’ve seen the video.

Asked who were his points of contact from the Iowa Gun Owners, Windschitl responded “I worked with Aaron and Chris Dorr”.

Aaron Dorr, of course, is the president of Iowa Gun Owners.

Chris is Aaron’s brother.  And he’s the one whose signature is on the letter we talked about yesterday, sent to Minnesota gun owners on behalf of “Minnesota Gun Rights”

More about the Dorrs – and their two organizations – tomorrow.

Carpetbaggers

There are a lot of Second Amendment groups. .

Some – the NRA, the GOA, the Second Amendment Foundation – are big national groups that’ve been fighting the good fight for decades.

Others are laser-focused on state-level Second Amendment issues.

Others?

———-

Gun control is a big issue these days.

Oh, not with most of the American people, it isn’t.  In fact, that’s the big problem gun-grabber groups are finding; while many Americans claim to support gun control, it’s not that big a deal to the vast majority.  In the meantime, Second Amendment Rights supporters consider the issue one of their short list of issues for which they donate time, passion and, occasionally, money.

It’s more accurate to say the left wants to make gun control a big issue among the 30% of the American people who might be inveigled to support it.  And they’re willing to pay big bucks.

The left?  They’ve got money.  The Joyce Foundation and Michael Bloomberg are pouring tens of millions into the issue, largely supporting astroturf groups and buying friendly media coverage around the country (as they’ve done with ProtectMN, Moms Want Action, the MinnPost and MPR here in Minnesota).

And when there’s money, there’s consultants.  “ProtectMN” has hired Richard Carlbom, the guy who ran Public Relations for the Gay Marriage campaign.  It’s not that Carlbom is necessarily a big anti-gunner; nobody I know has run into him in re the issue.  But he’s got a consulting company, and he’s looking to burnish his (well-earned) reputation as a messaging Hessian…

…and there’s just so freaking much money being poured into Minnesota to support stifling liberty, he’d be stupid not to try to grab a piece while he can.

Money brings them out of the woodwork.

———-

There’s not nearly as much money being tossed around Minnesota on the other side, the Human Rights side. But it’s out there. A lot of Minnesotans, concerned about the extremist Metrocrat gun grab agenda that surfaced this past session, are starting to vote with their pocketbooks, as well as their feet and their, well, votes.

Every pro-second-amendment group is courting members very aggressively.

That’s where the story starts.

———-

A few weeks ago, Minnesotans active in Second Amendment issues got this package.  It was led off by a cover letter from Glenn Gruenhagen, a Minnesota state Representative  – who, I stress right now and up front, is one of the absolute best in the Legislature on gun rights, and is utterly solid on the gun rights issue.  Gruenhagen is one of the good guys. 

The entire package – with the recipient’s name redacted – is shown below:

MGR_letter (1) (1).pdf

The package introduces us to “Minnesota Gun Rights”.  They’re soliciting donations to fight the battle for gun rights.

Now, I keep my finger in the air about gun rights in Minnesota. I stay familiar with the players on both sides.

I’ve never heard of Minnesota Gun Rights.

Who is this group?

We’ll come back to that.

———-

Who are the “Iowa Gun Owners” (IGO)?

They make big claims.  The National Association for Gun Rights – which has itself come under, er, fire for barking more than it bites, and is itself under investigation for various ethics complaints – said:

On the local level, NAGR has assisted various grassroots state organizations in everything from helping form the group to professional and financial assistance. These groups include: Wyoming Gun Owners, Iowa Gun Owners, South Dakota Gun Owners, & New Hampshire Firearms Coalition, to name a few. Many of these groups are truly on the front lines when it comes to defending individual’s rights in their home states.

 

For example…Iowa Gun Owners has been working diligently to get a true Concealed Carry law passed.

The group claims…:

In Iowa, NAGR’s boots-on-the-ground ally Iowa Gun Owners (IGO) introduced the bill in 2011 and came within 2 votes of passing it.

Let’s look at Iowa for a moment.  This video is of Iowa state rep Matt Windschitl.

Windschitl:

“This morning I saw an email from a so-called Second Amendment organization.  That organization, in a roundabout way, was trying to take credit for helping to get this [pro Second Amendment] bill to the floor and working it through the process.  It’s not the first time this organization has done that.  I want to be clear to Iowans – I want to be clear to anyone that’s watching this video right now; that organization’s executive director is Aaron Dorr; he’s the executive director of Iowa Gun Owners. Here’s the message; he did not lift a single finger to move this [pro second amendment] legislation forward. In fact, he never even chose to register on the original house file, House File 81. And he did not choose to register on this [pro second amendment] legislation before us now. The organizations that have brought this legislation to us today, to protect Iowans, are the National Rifle Association, the Iowa Firearms Coalition, the Iowa State Sheriffs and Deputies Association, and the Iowa Police Association. Those are the organizations that have spent time and effort to make sure we’re doing right by Iowans. So for those Iowans out there who have been getting these deceptive, misleading emails, rest assured – we are doing your business in an up front, honest manner…

So what?  It’s Iowa, right?

He’s talking about the group “Iowa Gun Owners”.

Yep.  Totally Iowa.

More tomorrow.

———-

UPDATE:  Corrected a couple of typos.  It was early.