MMM: Much Less than Advertised

The March's anti-gun machinery is predictably off-target

By Dave Kopel, of the Independence Institute

5/12/00 10:50 a.m., National Review Online. More by Kopel on anti-gun groups.

Voltaire once observed that that Holy Roman Empire was "neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire." (It was a political, not religious, entity; it was based in Germany; and for hundreds of years before Voltaire, it had exercised almost no real power over its confederate members.) The so-called Million Mom March is just as misnamed — and as useless to modern society — as the Holy Roman Empire.

Even the MMM publicity machine is now promising only a hundred thousand marchers, not a million at the Washington Mall, as had been originally planned. Some in the crowd will be mothers, but plenty won't. And they won't actually be marching, just standing around listening to speeches from experts like Rosie O'Donnell (who has forthrightly admitted that she wants to send every gunowner to prison) and Susan Sarandon (who spent last weekend at a Madison Square Garden rally for Mumia Abu-Jamal, who used a revolver to murder a policeman).

Nor — despite the fawning publicity from the old media — is the MMM a grassroots organization. It is run by a former Democratic Senate staffer who is related to the Clintons.

The MMM is controlled by the Bell Campaign, an extremely wealthy anti-gun organization based in San Francisco. Rather than simply being for gun control, the group is plainly against gun ownership in general; the Bell Campaign organizes pickets against sporting goods stores simply because the stores sell firearms, and its website warns women not to own or carry guns for protection.

The extremism of the Bell Campaign and its MMM front was illustrated this spring in Colorado. There, Kathleen Hopkins, the state coordinator for the MMM, had convinced the head of the Women's Shooting Sports Foundation (which is headquartered in Colorado Springs) to participate in the MMM. The Foundation's head, Shari LeGate, planned on distributing trigger locks at the Colorado MMM rally. Hopkins sent off an ecstatic e-mail to her group, predicting that in the long run, getting support from moderate hunters and other gun owners would be the key to political success for the MMM.

The national Bell Campaign didn't think so. A few days later, Hopkins was fired. Her farewell e-mail explained: "I also think it would be a wonderful thing if the Women's Shooting Sports Foundation joined our march in support of moderate legislation. I think it is foolish to NOT include any and all moderate gun owner groups. I believe that the reason I was fired is because of my belief that the WSSF is a good group that will help us achieve our goals."

Although couched in appealing language about "gun safety" for "children," the Bell/MMM agenda amounts to nothing more than a plan to lobby for more restrictions on law-abiding gun owners. As for actually promoting safety — which can include giving away trigger locks — Bell and MMM do nothing.

Eagle Eyes

Earlier this week, the NRA announced an additional million-dollar commitment to real gun safety, through the Eddie Eagle education program. Eddie Eagle, like Smokey the Bear, is an animated character who teaches safety rules. In Eddie's case: "If you find a gun, stop! Don't touch. Leave the area. Tell an adult." The National Safety Council honored the creator of the Eddie Eagle Program (former NRA President Marion P. Hammer) with a Citation for Outstanding Community Service. Gun prohibition lobbyists complain that Eddie Eagle does not include any anti-gun content.

Like the rest of the anti-gun lobby, Bell/MMM are opposed to protective gun ownership. "While we acknowledge that guns may be necessary for hunting, law enforcement and national security, the proliferation of firearms is out of control," says MMM's website. In other words, MMM does not acknowledge the legitimacy of gun ownership for lawful self-defense, or defense of one's family.

The Bell/MMM idea of public safety is apparently to stop people from using firearms to protect their families, and to impose more burdens on people who want to exercise their constitutional rights. "The Second Amendment is irrelevant," they claim.

The Second Amendment isn't irrelevant to the millions of American mothers who have used firearms to protect their families, to stop rapists, and to save innocents. It is these women who actually do something about children's safety, as opposed to the Bell/MMM approach of merely complaining about it.

Unlike Bell/MMM, Carrie Nation and her Women's Christian Temperance Union were a genuine grassroots movement, but Bell/MMM and the WCTU do have a lot in common. Both groups see the many problems that result from the abuse of a particular physical object (alcohol, or firearms). Both groups display a contemptuous, smug, and mean-spirited superiority to people who disagree with them. Both groups terribly misunderstand human nature, and blame evil on objects rather than on the moral choices of individuals.

Both groups rely on childishly terrifying people about children as a substitute for thoughtful discussion of policy issues. "The Saloon, or the Boys and Girls" was a popular prohibitionist poster; MMM's symbol is a childish scrawl imposed over a drawing of a handgun.

And both groups use incremental "reasonable controls" as part of a long-term march towards prohibition. The Bell Campaign website applauds the confiscation of every handgun in Great Britain, and of every self-loading rifle and shotgun in Australia.

In the 1960s, adults sometimes had to remind themselves that the SDS didn't speak for most college students. Today, political observers need to remember that most American mothers — even most American soccer moms (I know a lot of them, since I'm a soccer referee) — aren't represented by the anti-gun lobbyists and their much-less-than-a-million-marchers. So there's no need to despair that the "soccer moms" want to overturn the Second Amendment.

Just to make sure that the American public is reminded that not all American mothers want to do to gun owners what Carrie Nation did to wine-drinkers, a new, genuinely grassroots group called the Second Amendment Sisters is organizing its own Armed Informed Mothers March in cities across the nation on Mother's Day. They don't a have a sugar daddy like the Bell Campaign, nor have they been given tens of millions of dollars of free publicity from the old media. Even so, they'll be rallying to point out the fact that guns in responsible hands save the lives of adults and children every day in America.

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