One gun rights advocate's journey from activist to candidate

I’ve known Rebecca Schmoe for several years now, and she’s one of my favorite people in the Second Amendment community, so I’m absolutely thrilled to welcome her to Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co today to talk about her latest endeavor: running for office.

Schmoe is the Republican candidate for House District 59 in the Kansas legislature after sailing through the primary with nearly 60% of the vote; pretty amazing considering she’s never run for office before. In fact, she didn’t really have any plans to run this year, but when the incumbent announced his retirement on the last day of the legislative session, Schmoe decided to throw her hat in the ring.

Since she started campaigning, Schmoe has brought her style of advocacy to work with her, something she admits has been challenging at times.

“We’re used to holding politicians accountable, so being the person going out and seeking votes and trying to engage people who also feel like us, who just want our politicians to be held accountable, it’s a matter of getting them to understand that I’ve been working to hold politicians accountable for a decade,” she explains.

“I want my constituents, I want the people in my community to hold me accountable. That’s part of the deal. I want them as involved as possible, and it’s been really interesting to see some people’s reaction to that because it’s so far from what we’re used to. One of the things that I talk about on the campaign trail is the fact that I want to host all of these rather small forums; small business owners, come in and tell me what it is that you need, what you’re seeing in your environment. Child care workers, come in and tell me what you need. Instead of a small committee of people that you go to as a politician and say ‘well, this is what we’ve got going on’ I want to bring the community together to tell me what they need.”

It’s a refreshing course of action, especially compared to anti-gun politicians who know little-to-nothing about gun laws or how firearms operate yet are still convinced they’re the experts on “gun safety” and our Second Amendment rights. Schmoe knows her stuff when it comes to our right to keep and bear arms, but that doesn’t make her (or any other politician) an expert on every subject under the sun, and it’s great that she’s eager to listen to what others have to say instead of just trying to tell them what to do.

Kansas is a pretty conservative state, and Schmoe’s district leans Republican, but in the wake of the voter referendum to expand pro-life laws that was rejected by voters earlier this month, I wondered if she’s concerned about the potential for a Democratic surge in enthusiasm this November. Schmoe, who supported the ballot initiative, doesn’t think that vote is evidence that Republicans are going to be in trouble statewide, especially given the fact that the “Vote No” side made a pitch to voters that was based on the idea of protecting individual freedom and liberty.

“Say no to more government control” isn’t a message that’s going to appeal to gun-grabbers, and Schmoe says that the pitch from the group Kansas for Constitutional Freedom is “huge” for folks in the liberty movement, given its broader implications beyond the abortion debate.

“If we can capitalize on that, if we can reach people while they’re still thinking ‘my rights, my choice’ then we can translate that into Second Amendment issues or other liberty issues, that’s fantastic.”

With dozens of anti-gun activists running for office in federal, state, and local elections this year, candidates like Rebecca Schmoe not only provide an important counterpart to the machinations of the gun control lobby but will hopefully inspire others to step into the arena as well. I’m thrilled that Schmoe is a candidate for the Kansas state legislature this fall, and with other D.C. project members like Connecticut Citizens Defense League president Holly Sullivan winning elections of their own, we could be witnessing the start of a whole new chapter of Second Amendment advocacy taking root across the country.