As the dust settles on the close of the 2017 legislative session, it’s a great time to look back and see what was accomplished in our fight to defend and advance the Second Amendment here in Minnesota.
Obviously, we got Constitutional Carry introduced and went to war for Stand-Your-Ground law and a whole lot more — but that didn’t just happen on its own!
In this three part series, we’re going to review the 2017 session and see how we can use these lessons as we push for Stand-Your-Ground and Constitutional Carry in 2018.
Part 1: Setting the Stage
While the start date of the 2017 legislative session may have been January 3, this year’s fight for Stand-Your-Ground law and Constitutional Carry really began when the 2016 session ended on May 23, 2016.
That was the date when then-Senate Judiciary Chairman Ron Latz failed to pass Statewide Gun Registration, and it was the date that Minnesota Gun Rights began to lay out our program for the fall elections.
As a 501c4 non-profit, we can not expressly advocate for or against candidates.
But we are able to advocate for the Second Amendment and to expose legislators who oppose it.
And there’s no better time to do that than in the months leading up to a major election.
And I have to tell you, we love getting out into these districts and making anti-gunners pay a political price for their behavior in St Paul.
It’s essential that we do, or anti-gun legislators will just do it again next year as they’ve been doing for years.
And why wouldn’t they, as they knew that there was no state organization who would hold them accountable for opposing the Second Amendment.
No Deals and No Games!
That all began to change with the 2014 elections when gun owners in Minnesota, educated by Minnesota Gun Rights, booted out many anti-gun incumbents like Will Morgan and Joe Radinovich.
So as the 2015 session began to wind down, anti-gunners knew that they had to pass something that could pass for a gun bill — to try to placate the gun owners that they knew would be waiting for them in the fall of 2016.
First they tried to buy your silence by legalizing suppressors in exchange for killing Constitutional Carry on April 23, 2015.
Once we let them know that wasn’t good enough, they passed an “emergency powers” bill.
While these were some steps forward, only made possible by MGR supporters who were demanding major pro-gun reforms, they were gimmicks designed to silence gun owners in the fall of 2016.
We wanted and demanded passage of Stand-Your-Ground and Constitutional Carry legislation, and we were going to hold them accountable if they didn’t deliver.
And that’s what makes Minnesota Gun Rights so effective and so different from any other organization in Minnesota. We don’t care what politicians think about us.
We don’t care if they attack us in the paper, on their little Facebook page, or in their committee chambers –- we’re not going to back down.
More, we’re going to attack them back as hard as we can.
In their districts.
At election time.
So instead of falling for the gimmicks they offered up, we prepared for the largest election program in our existence once the gavel fell for the last time during the 2016 session.
Holding Them Accountable!
After running our candidate survey program in the summer months where we identified who was willing to publicly support your gun rights and who was not -– it was time to get to work.
With early voting capturing a larger than ever percentage of the vote here in Minnesota, we had to be ready earlier than ever before.
By late September Minnesota Gun Rights was sending out direct mail by the truck load, letting gun owners in key districts know exactly who was responsible for killing Constitutional Carry in 2015 and supporting Statewide Gun Registration.
And this was a focused plan.
We’re not in the business of wasting your donor support in areas where pro-gun candidates have no chance of being successful.
Rather, we lasered in on key races where we knew we could be effective.
Specifically, we hammered on Lyle Koenen, Rod Skoe, Jim Carlson, and Paul Rosenthal’s districts, to name a few.
(A mountain of direct mail, funded exclusively by Minnesotans, moments after being dropped off at the USPS last year as MGR exposed anti-gun incumbents with everything we had.)
With direct mail rolling out by the tens of thousands of pieces, we added in an additional layer of mail to combat the blatant lies that incumbents were publishing about their records.
The feedback on this program was incredible, as we were able to put a face on the gun control movement in St Paul and give people a way to express their frustration with out-of-touch legislators who voted to kill Constitutional Carry and pushed for Statewide Gun Registration.
And of course, we had to combat the spin and misinformation that Skoe and others were putting out over the airwaves.
While we could never match their anti-gun campaigns dollar for dollar, we knew we had to do what we could.
Having paid for the production of these ads, we got double the use out of them by using them in a state of the art internet and Facebook program, that reached out to hundreds of thousands of additional Minnesotans.
weeks leading up to election day last November.)
But that wasn’t all.
We’re not armchair gun rights activists, we love to get out there and meet with gun owners one on one and tell them the truth about anti-gun incumbents first hand.
And so with our mail blanketing these districts –- being augmented by our radio ads and digital campaigns -– we unveiled a door to door ground game as well.
In the weekends prior to election day last fall, Minnesota Gun Rights volunteers put our hard-hitting flyers on a combined 25,000 doors in Senate Districts 51, 02, 47 and House Districts 31B, 49B, 33B and more!
We were in big towns like Bloomington and Eagan, but also in small towns like Ham Lake and Park Rapids.
And let me tell you, while it may be the most ‘boring’ part of our program, nothing beats going door-to-door for effectiveness!
(MGR’s Executive Director, Chris Dorr, giving an update to gun owners as teams of volunteers hit thousands of houses with information-packed flyers.)
We had people flagging us down all over town letting us know that that were getting our mail and seeing our digital media ads and that they were hearing the radio ads as well — and that they would be voting pro-gun on November 8.
Making Them Pay A Price!
By now you know that this program was very successful in educating gun owners who wiped out Rod Skoe and Lyle Koenen, flipping the Senate anti-gun Majority and sending a dozen pro-gun legislators back to St Paul!
All in all, this program cost tens of thousands of dollars to implement — every single penny of which was funded by grassroots gun owners in Minnesota!
Lyle Koenen, toppled.
A hostile Taxes Chairman, Rod Skoe, booted out!
Multiple rank and file incumbents, with over a 15 years of time in the legislature fighting against the Second Amendment, were sent home.
The result of these efforts led to a flip in the Minnesota State Senate and, with it, a pro-gun majority in both chambers of the state legislature for the first time in years!
None of this would have been possible without the humbling generosity of thousands of gun owners here in Minnesota.
It wouldn’t have been possible if Minnesota Gun Rights had a philosophy of appeasement with anti-gun politicians like so many other “gun rights organizations” do.
And it wouldn’t have happened had we been willing to take the scraps of freedom that the anti-gunners offered up — in exchange for our silence.
This has been the fundamental difference between Minnesota Gun Rights and every other lobby organization in St Paul.
Rather than be party to watering down and weakening our bills, we’re willing, eager in fact, to get out into the districts of these anti-gunners and expose them at election time.
And in the process, the entire gun rights debate in Minnesota shifted.
With the anti-gun Senate caucus having been decimated in the elections, gun owners were in an excellent position to pass Constitutional Carry and Stand-Your-Ground through the legislature during the 2017 session.
In our next update, we’ll cover the introduction of Stand-Your-Ground and Constitutional Carry legislation and how the Minnesota House — under the leadership of Speaker Kurt Daudt and Majority Leader Joyce Peppin – stabbed gun owners in the back.
Minnesota Gun Right
P.S. This is the first in our session-in-review series that will cover where we came from in the last elections, where we are right now with our 2nd Amendment rights and where we’re at going forward.
Stay tuned for the next part in our series which will be coming out shortly.