USRKBA

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

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Welcome to USRKBA.org.  The FAQ is in progress, here are a few starting points.

 

What is USRKBA?

USRKBA.org is a website to engage pro-right to keep and bear arms activists who are willing to help engage elected officials in support of RKBA.  We are a partnership with www.gunleaders.com which hosts an online community for independent, pro-RKBA, grassroots leadership.  USRKBA.org hosts a private, invitation only email list and forum for pro-RKBA activists, among other efforts.

Who is USRKBA?

We are made up of people who principally helped repeal the ban on firearms & self defense in National Parks & Wildlife Refuges beginning in 2004, culminating in regulation permitting concealed firearms which went into effect, then was stayed by an activist judge, and ultimately completely overturned with the passage of the 'Coburn Amendment' which went into effect in 2009.

There are already other groups out there, why join USRKBA?

It is a theme you will here over and over again at USRKBA; it is not enough for activists to "only be involved at the state level" or "only be involved at the federal level".  There are statewide independent, unaffiliated grassroots organizations all over the United States because in far flung places sometimes the level of activism provided by large national organizations is not sufficient, and often times does not represent the grassroots pro-right to keep and bear arms citizen.  As an activist/lobby we will not be effective by "focusing" only on certain parts of the RKBA fight.  At USRKBA we have heard from gun owners time and again "our group only lobbies at the state level".

Ladies & Gentlemen:  That is exactly what the Brady Campaign, Violence Policy Center and others who would strip you of your freedom want! This approach fails to recognize that our opponents have changed their strategies and we need to adapt, or accept defeat.  We at USRKBA are not willing to accept defeat.

We are focused on activism.  Our aim is to bring RKBA issues to the fore to discuss, evaluate and plan efforts to advance RKBA related to that issue and ACT.  We want you to help.

We host a right to keep and bear arms forum at www.usrkba.org.  Join us there and help us roll back restrictions on the rights to self defense & to keep and bear arms and fight infringements to the same.

Dealing with Congress

Contacting your Congressional delegation is simple but you need to be prepared to deal with the Congressional staff to effectively get your message across.  The first thing you need to do is prepare.  You need to know the facts, inside and out.  For the right to keep and bear arms you should know the "anti-gun" talking points and have your answers ready.  We prefer a "multi-contact" method approach.  The reason for this becomes more clear once you have dealt with Congressional staff more than a few times.  Basically, you want to be factual, brief, quick to the point and make sure you clearly and specifically state what you want the Congressman to do.  This is critical and many in the RKBA community submit comments like "The 2nd Amendment is my permit to carry!" and "uphold your oath of office!".  These are certainly worthy principles and noble suggestions but they lack specificity and the Congressional staff will put this type of correspondence in a ... special file which nothing happens to.

Email / e-form, fax & written letter: Almost all Congressional offices have transitioned their communication interface to what are known as e-forms.  These e-forms are designed to obfuscate your attempt to easily communicate with Congressional offices. As email became more prevalent and Congressional offices went on the 'net, internet savvy lobbies like the RKBA supporters began using it powerfully to lobby Congress.  They were deluged with correspondence and implemented these web-forms to dissuade Citizens from contacting.  Newer ones now have a box to check for getting a response to your correspondence or some form of 'acknowledgement'.  Always select this option, and always keep your correspondence.  Fax, email & web form are generally quicker methods of delivering your Congressional correspondence.


  1. Your correspondence should read like a letter.  It should be polite, clear, concise with direct 'problems' and direct 'solutions'.
  2. ALWAYS remember that a human being will read this letter, not a computer.  Be courteous and respectful, but no to the point of silliness.  You are writing your elected SERVANT, not your master.  However, the people working for you in Congress are not your slave so treat them with respect.  Respect is a two way street and if you start off a conversation respectfully and maintain it respectfully all but the absolute worst offenders will treat you respectfully.
  3. In most correspondence you want either a bill, regulation or known government action to refer to.  There are some exceptions for long term efforts but basically if you don't have a bill, regulation or government action to refer to then your "please support/please oppose" request will be met with "Dear Constituent,  I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment... I will keep your concerns in mind..."  More on that later.
  4. Your direct problem needs to be identifiable and briefly explainable.  For example, 'Dear Representative ... I am writing to oppose HB999 the bill to implement burdensome background checks on private firearms sales".  Here we have an identifiable bill, and the short explanation.  Do the leg work for the Congressional staff, don't make them look up what a bill is.  The more of their work you do for them the faster your correspondence gets dealt with.
  5. Explain why the bill is good or bad.  Ideally you want this to be 2 or 3 points fitting in a brief paragraph.
  6. Give your direction and a brief explanation.  Reiterate your position and explain it with 2 or 3 brief points.
  7. Close out the communication and ask for a contact by phone.  Make sure you know the points you made in your letter and ask for a call back to discuss the issue.  Every law that Congress passes takes away some measure of freedom, so the least they can do is call to talk to you about it.  This helps drive home the points you made in your email, reinforces to the staff that you are serious about this a lot of times can bring the staff to sympathize with you.  You don't have to hold them on the phone or monopolize their day, but if you can, get their contact information and ask for a follow up on any developments for this issue.

If you are sending pre-formatted correspondence, it is ok to personalize it.  In fact, personalizing your communication generally draws more attention to it.  Within limits.  Don't stray too far into personalizing that the overall message is lost, or the direct problem / direct solution is obscured.  Avoid rhetoric that might compromise your effort, partisan labels, ad hominem attacks.  Stick to the core message and always be respectful.

Responses: You may or may not get a response to your inquiries.  If you get an email response offering some general support, it is no better than an MS Outlook delivery receipt.  It means your email / e-form was received, read by Congressional staff and their form response was sent out to you.  Believe us, they have form responses pre-built.  This is nothing to get excited or angry about.  It means that the office has gotten enough input to acknowledge the issue. This is a positive development but we still have work to do.  NEVER accept the first response as the final word.

If you get the "I am a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment" letter, what do you do?  Most people accept this and consider their part in the fight over.  It's not.  If there is not a written promise to support / oppose whatever issue you contacted on, there is more work to do.  Beware of generalities.  A written promise must be to do something, and it must be something tangible.  For example, "I will get this bill to the floor and see it passed".  If you get this "I am a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment...I will keep your views in mind" letter then a follow up contact is required.  "I'll keep your concerns in mind..." says nothing, means nothing and offers no indication whatsoever what they are going to do.

If you get a phone call from the staff of the Congressman's office, even if it's their level 1 staff, this is good.  Reiterate your points.  If they try to tell you that "this is only for ... and won't infringe 2nd Amendment rights" then you explain to them that yes it will, yes it does and why.  If you think they are "not getting it" then tell them you'd like to talk to the office 2nd Amendment staff.  Each office has a staff member who handles 2nd Amendment issues among other issues.  These people have to know a little more detail about an issue and have some direct interfacing with the Chief of staff & the elected Congressman.  Sometimes if you ask for a contact from the office in your email, fax or letter the 2nd Amendment office staff will do the calling.  Even better.  If they are calling you, don't be caught flat footed.  If you're not in a position or place where you can articulately discuss the ins and outs of 2nd Amendment / RKBA issues, defer and ask for a number & time to call back so you can.  "This issue is very important to me and I want to be absolutely sure the Representative/Senator fully understands".

More work to do:

What if you get no response?  What do you do if your cable, satellite, telephone or electric service goes out and it is not fixed or responded to in a timely manner?  YOU CALL THEM BACK!  You don't give up, you don't complain to the NRA that your Congressman didn't respond, or spend hours complaining about on an internet blog or forum, you reload and get back in the fight.  Figuratively that is.  You could send another email, fax or letter, however we consider the lack of response to be... impolite and below expectations for a highly paid elected government official whose sole duty is to represent our interests pursuant to the Constitution.  Generally a week to 10 business days is enough turnaround time for a Congressional office.  If the issue is time sensitive you may need to alter your threshold for turnaround time.  Anything scheduled to be voted on soon will requires a shorter turnaround time & time to recontact.<Tip>  Check the elected official's website.  If you see an article on how some key staff member was injured, in the hospital, died or there is some calamity the office is dealing with keep this in mind in your subsequent comments </Tip> If you haven't received acknowledgement of your input or response this warrants a phone call.

Call them! Many gun owners don't like this option and there really is no reason to be concerned.  We are out of our element dealing with political issues a lot of times but all you have to do is speak your mind politely and honestly.  If you can call to place an order for ammunition, look for a specific gun model or gunsmithing parts & services then you can easily deal with a Congressional office.

If you sent in an email, fax or letter, have a copy handy when you call.  Once you reach a live person tell them who you are, and that you're calling about whatever bill, regulation or government action at hand and that you would like to speak to someone about the issue.  Usually this gets you to the "2nd Amendment" guy/gal.  Keep in mind the same things as when you sent your email, fax or letter.  Be polite and understanding but get to it.  Tell him who you are, who you're with if you are part of an organization and that you're following up on a previously sent correspondence.  Express that you want the elected official to represent your interests as expressed in that correspondence and explain why. The will likely ask you some questions, give them answer quickly if you but if you are lacking information or stats do NOT bluff!  Be honest and ask for time to get that information for him/her.  Get a number / email and follow up.

Promises made on the phone mean nothing unless they are backed up by promises in writing.

If you get voice mail and leave a message, ask for a call back.  Remember that you may understand the issue inside and out, but the Congressman & their staff may not and they are dealing with other constituents on other issues so do as much background for them as you can.

OK, your communication was received and acknowledged...

Now what?

The relatively small percentage of constituents who get this far now consider the issue resolved.  It's not.  Even if you have a written promise to "support or oppose" a bill, regulation or government action elected officials are like cars, trucks, motorcycles & other vehicles:  They require constant steering input to keep them on course.  This is particularly true if your effort is an "offensive" one - an attempt to roll back restrictions, repeal a law or in any way enhance liberty. Politicians love to do one thing more than anything else:  Nothing.  Doing nothing is the ideal for a politician because if they never try to get a bill to the floor and get a vote they are never really held accountable for their actions.  Do not allow a politician to claim "this bill is in the xxxxxxxx committee, and I am not a part of that committee" and let it go unchallenged.  This is an attempt by the politician to do nothing.  If you're trying to repeal a law, or enhance liberty doing nothing is your enemy.  If you get this kind of response, you need to recontact with a new direct problem / direct solution. "Dear Congressman Soandso, I was recently contacted by your office about bill HB001 that is stuck in the Judicial Committee.  You are not on that committee, however as a leader in the Congress and strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, we expect action on this bill.  Please find out from the committee chair when the bill will be heard so that we can get this bill the vote on the floor it deserves  ..."

Telephone contact

Telephone calls are dynamic.  They are essentially a conversation taking place on a personal level in which you can convey much more sentiment, emotion, and 'tone' that is not necessarily conveyed in electronic communications such as emails, web forms & faxes.

Always prepare before calling a Congressional office.  Even if you only have notes jotted down on a Post-it note, do at least some preparation before engaging any Congressional or other political contact.  If you are asked a question you don't have an answer to then tell them you don't have the specific information in front of you, and you'll get back to them.  What's a good number & email to reach you at?  Keep in mind that politicians and their staff are very good at human interaction.  In fact, they excel at this behavior whereas gun owners as a demographic are generally unpracticed in this discipline.


Sporting purposes & shotguns

The 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution reads "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".  Just as the 1st Amendment was meant to ensure that the minority and unpopular opinions are able to be expressed, the 2nd Amendment means protecting 'arms', not just sporting arms, hunting guns and handguns, but rather the plain wording of the amendment shows it is meant to protect all arms, even ones that are unpopular with the government.

In a document the ATF calls a "study", ATF indicates that they have reevaluated the 'sporting purposes' interpretation to include shotguns for import purposes.  In this document ATF declares its intent to prohibit the importation of "certain" shotguns which have any of the following criteria.

(1) Folding, telescoping, or collapsible stocks;
(2) bayonet lugs;
(3) flash suppressors;
(4) magazines over 5 rounds, or a drum magazine;
(5) grenade-launcher mounts;
(6) integrated rail systems (other than on top of the receiver or barrel);
(7) light enhancing devices;
(8) excessive weight (greater than 10 pounds for 12 gauge or smaller);
(9) excessive bulk (greater than 3 inches in width and/or greater than 4 inches in depth);
(10) forward pistol grips or other protruding parts designed or used for gripping theshotgun with the shooter’s extended hand.

 

In the so called "study" ATF imposes a very narrow, outdated & sometimes unusual definition of 'sporting'.  After some explanation, ATF admits that this definition of "sporting purposes" needs to be reevaluated.  Currently the ATF considers only trap & skeet shooting as applicable to "sporting purposes" for importation and ignores the prevalence of action competition shooting like USPSA.  That group is indicated to have 19,000 members but does not qualify under ATF's definition of a 'sport' yet the American Curling society has only 13,000 members and is an Olympic Sport.  There are numerous action competition shooting sports leagues, and regular unaffiliated shooting competitions and events all across the country.  This wide chasm between what everyone besides ATF calls a sport and what ATF calls a "sport" shows that not enough research has been done to support the ATF Study.

Working groups need to be established to revise the ATF definition of 'sporting purposes' in recognition of the 1939 US v. Miller, 2008 District of Columbia vs. Heller Supreme Court decisions, and the modern prevalence of action competition shooting sports practiced in leagues, at competitions and local ranges all across America.  Only then can an accurate study be produced.

Many of the criteria ATF uses to identify a shotgun as 'not suitable' for sporting purposes are plainly nonsensical.  Among these are folding, telescoping or collapsible stocks, flash suppressors, magazines over 5 rounds, integrated rail systems, light enhancing devices & forward grips.  All of these features have applications that lend themselves to both sporting and sometimes military or tactical applications.  The 2 need not be mutually exclusive.

 

  • folding, telescoping & collapsible stocks provide adjustable length of pull allowing for both family use of the same gun, as well as adjustability for optimum fit & better control.
  • flash suppressors permit follow up shots in low light conditions typical in hunting near dawn or dusk.
  • many modern shotguns with a pump or semi automatic action have magazines over 5 rounds.  A shotgun with an 18 inch barrel can easily hold 7-8 shells and shooters in 3 gun or exhibition shooting can have even more.
  • integrated rails have become ubiquitous to mount forward hand grips, lights, lasers and optics.  All of these features enhance the ergonomics of the gun, the controllability of the gun and the ability to shoot the gun in adverse, or low light.

 

The other features that ATF identifies they classify as "suitable to military or law enforcement" purposes.  This very admission brings firearms so defined under the protection of 'arms' described in the 2nd Amendment, as well as more specifically arms as discussed in both Miller & Heller.  In fact, the Miller decision protects exactly the types of arms that ATF currently seeks to prevent from importing.  From Miller:

"when called for service these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time."...

"Also 'Clauses intended to insure the possession of arms and ammunition by all who were subject to military service appear in all the important enactments concerning military affairs. Fines were the penalty for delinquency, whether of towns or individuals."  ...

The Miller decision did not outlaw short barrel shotguns, nor did it pronounce they were not protected arms under the 2nd Amendment, rather it held that evidence was not presented and it was not within judicial notice that the arm was 'reasonably related to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia'.  Heller did not overturn Miller in any way, and in fact continued Miller's findings and expanded upon them.  Both rulings touch on the need for the militia to provide for themselves arms in common use at the time.

While the ATF is tasked with ensuring that arms of a sporting purpose are imported it must acknowledge and recognize the restrictions placed upon this statutory law by the 2nd Amendment and the Supreme Court through rulings in Miller & Heller.  Arms with features such as folding/telescoping/collapsible stocks, flash suppressors, integrated rail systems, forward grips & light enhancing devices while they may have law enforcement, military uses, they have collateral personal protection and sporting uses and are most certainly features that all citizens benefit from.

Accordingly, the ATF shotgun importability study should be revised to reflect the modern definition of sporting purposes; inclusive of features that are in common use by citizens for self defense in the home, used by sportsmen to compete in multi-gun competitions, action competition shooting sports in leagues, organizations or informally.  Further, ATF must expand the definition of 'sporting purposes' from it's 1980's era of sporting first.

See also Commenting on the ATF shotgun study


USRKBA-List

USRKBA-list is a private, invitation only email discussion list for activists supporting the right to keep and bear arms.  The discussion list focus is political activism, the advancement & defense of the right to keep and bear arms.  To learn more about USRKBA-List, go to http://mailman.modwest.com/listinfo/usrkba-list



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This is to test the authoring authority of the "public/manager" role at usrkba.org

 

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