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The American Rifle + Pistol Association (R+P)—launched July 2, 2013—has billed itself as a “responsible” pro gun organization and wants to open the debate about all things firearms—“A deliberative member forum, which will allow gun owners of all perspectives to openly and candidly share their views.”
It does not sound so bad when put that way, but buried a little deeper the R+P goes on to say that it is also available to non-gun owners and media in a “safe harbor” atmosphere of civility and decorum… and claims no political agenda. Is anyone else starting to smell something emanating from the south end of a northbound bull?
Do we really need a moderator and safe harbor to deal with the wisdom and expediency of firearm issues? Worse yet, do we need a third party to moderate, analyze and then hand over the results to the media as a measure of our voice? Much of which is going to be judged electronically. I keep having flashbacks to how search results change every time Google changes it algorithm. Does anyone reading this actually believe that is going to demonstrate our true message and that the mainstream media is going to report the results honestly? Even if R+P reports an accurate view of our message in the first place?
R+P may be nothing more than a false flag operation and an assault on our First and Second Amendment freedoms—regardless of any claimed intent or non-intent. All forums need moderation for certain hate speech and expletives, language that is not appropriate for all readers or is outside the topic of the thread. However, I am concerned about a firearm forum that could be moderated in such a way that it discourages the open and honest passion of gun owners and then sold to the media as our voice.
Whether the R+P is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, an outright gun control group wearing a camouflage coat to disguise itself as a pro gun organization or something less nefarious, it needs to be upfront and honest about what it is and its intended purpose. Many leaders in the firearm community have certainly looked and made their decision. So far, I have not heard any of them to be in favor of R+P.
This fact was recently posed to the R+P during an interview.
“I guess there’s a few Democrats among us,” said R+P president Robert Gelinas. “But the whole idea behind this organization was to actually have a debate… The whole notion of firearms debate isn’t a debate, though. The minute anyone tries to voice any ideas about public safety, it immediately gets shut down and they say: ‘You guys are communist’ and ‘Go to Hell’ and the whole nine yards.”
That was all fine until a little digging showed the R+P chairman, Peter Vogt to have previously expressed support for Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns and other gun control campaigns. He now claims he no longer supports those campaigns because they veered from their original mission. Vogt, until recently, was also a resident of Newtown Connecticut and had personal connections to the families of some of the Sandy Hook victims. Gelinas stated the experience helped to shape the group’s position in advocating “sane” gun ownership.
The Devilish Details?
Like so many things, the devil is in the details (as if the previous facts were not already not enough). First, R+P is a for-profit organization, which has applied for a non-profit status as well—nothing unusual there. R+P’s board of directors (the five people who originally funded the company) fills its managerial and leadership roles; not its membership. Half of its message claims what great business minds it has and the other claims no legislative agenda. No legislative agenda…? It will simply judge the collective sentiment of the members on all topics and make them available to the public, media etc. Do you want someone else deciding who can speak, how they can say it and then throwing it all into a magical mixer to decide what the community of gun owners and anti gunners meant?
The American Rifle + Pistol Association can claim it only has a capitalistic and pro gun agenda in mind. Its intentions may be completely honorable and in gun owners best interest. It is only a couple of weeks old, so who knows. What I do know is that there is a lot of danger in the message R+P will eventually deliver; a message it is going to moderate then claim to be yours. I, for one, am simply not that trusting—especially of a start up for profit run by individuals such as Peter Vogt.
R+P describes its mission as helping to foster, via deliberative dialogue, SANE gun ownership – which stands for Safety, Advocacy (of its members), Networking and Education. I listened to a recent interview with Gelinas where he walked that back quite a bit and said the initial message had been misinterpreted and R+P was refining the message…
However, whose vision of safety? Is safety eliminating concealed carry and stand your ground laws, limiting the types of weapons or number of rounds in a magazine etc.? R+P claims that is not its intention and that it wants to promote education, ownership and support CCW/CHL laws. R+P could easily go that direction or flip the script based on its algorithm. It leaders certainly have in the past.
The jury is still out on the American Rifle + Pistol Association. R+P sells memberships, but for a limited time you can sign up for free an anonymously. Those memberships will be phased out over time and R+P will require you to buy a membership. However, Gelinas and company hail from the IT world and claim they are big advocates of collecting and compiling “big data.” That seals the deal and ensures R+P is one social network I can do without. I will continue to support the NRA, NAGR, SAF and others that I know and have a history of fighting for my rights.