Diversity Shoot, From Humble Beginnings To Crisscrossing The Country

In February of 2015 Tony Simon had a vision. Being a newly minted gun owner in New Jersey, the former Marine jumped right into gun ownership with both feet. After seeing that his skills decayed a little over time, Simon trained, trained some more, and then trained to become a trainer. To Simon it was not just about proficiency with firearms, but activism. Born and raised in Virginia, now living in north Jersey, Simon quickly became acquainted with the ridiculous laws in the Garden State. He knew one of the only ways to change the political climate was to raise awareness and educate. Simon started the Second is for Everyone (2A4E) and began hosting his now famous Diversity Shoots.

From the Second is for Everyone’s webpage we can learn the following:

Tony Simon, founder, is a USMC veteran, 2nd Amendment rights advocate and firearms trainer and co-founder of the Minuteman Challenge competition. He also hosts the 2A4Epodcast. DiversityShoot.com is dedicated to getting people of all races, religion, and sexual preference involved in the 2nd Amendment political movement. You can support our mission by becoming a patron at Patreon.com/The2ndisForEveryonepodcast.

The crux of Simon’s 2A4E is that they celebrate and encourage diversity of people, embracing the equality that our founders enabled us to implement in this country. This right, the right to keep and bear arms, is a civil right for all people, not just white, straight, cis gendered, ones.  He talked to me about his muse:

I dreamed it up after noticing the lack of minority participation in the political process of fighting for our rights. It came together in my head in February 2015 and we ran with it.

Civil rights are near and dear to Simon’s heart, not just because he served his country, but he puts forward a very intriguing thought when it comes to his, our, Second Amendment rights.  In more than one social media post, podcast interview, speech, etc. Simon discusses how he is part of the first generation of actual free black citizens. To put things into perspective, Brown v. Board of Ed was decided in 1954 and further inequalities were somewhat put to rest in the 1968 Fair Housing Act and Civil Rights Act. Simon would often quip how he is part of that first free generation, and why should he start to have to surrender freedoms just because of how someone else “feels” about firearms. Having rights taken away from the first generation of truly free persons of color is beyond reprehensible. The anti-gun crowd should take that in and digest a little.

As Tony explains on his Facebook page:

I am counted as the first generation of Black American born (after the signing of the 1968 Civil Rights Act) with the same rights as everyone else. I am not willing to give away these newly acquired rights due to political pressure from the same government that denied those rights to people that looked like me since 1776.
.
I am dedicated to educating people regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or background of their civil right to keep and bear arms. I will work with allies in the firearms community, 2A advocacy groups, the firearms industry and volunteers to introduce these people to these rights, firearms and firearms culture. The human right of self defense isn’t a political issue.
.
“We the people” must stand together and resist the anti-gun political agenda of politicians, freedom hating billionaires, a complicit mainstream media and social media. We must welcome people across political lines, racial lines and any other false divide used to separate us from each other.
.
If you believe in the human right of self defense, the 2nd Amendment rights of all people to keep and bear arms then we can work together.
.
2021 needs to see us working as a team fighting for our rights to resist the tyranny that’s been rearing its head in this country. We need to stand together for freedom for all people through political action, community involvement, volunteerism and supporting each other’s efforts.
.
“An unarmed people are slaves or subject to slavery at any given time.” – Huey P Newton

Teaming up with Anthony Colandro from Gun for Hire at the Woodland Park Range, Simon hosted his first Diversity Shoot in 2015. The event was a success, with more interest than Simon or Colandro could ever imagine. Since then there have been bi-monthly Diversity Shoots, with only interruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently Simon has increased the number of events to monthly and some cases two times a month. Simon’s vision got embraced by more organizations, often having volunteers from the Coalition of New Jersey Firearm Owners (CNJFO) help out at his events.

Simon estimates that he and his volunteers have educated and introduced hundreds of people to the shooting sports though his events, those hosted by CNJFO, and the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs. His activism does not stop at the range, Simon has spoke at several events and to several groups about the Second Amendment. More recently Simon was invited to speak over Memorial Day Weekend in St Louis and gave a presentation on advocacy. He jokes that pound for pound he’s the biggest Second Amendment heavy hitter/gun bunny in the state of New Jersey, and maybe we can add in all the country to that title.

 

The work that is being done in New Jersey and now neighboring Pennsylvania has not gone unnoticed. In early 2021 Simon was invited to come out to Nebraska to help start up the first Diversity Shoot outside of the New Jersey/Pennsylvania area. On July 25, 2021 The Second is for Everyone teamed up with members of the Nebraska Firearms Owners Association (NFOA) to host this monumental event.

I caught up with Tony Simon to talk to him about his experiences running the Diversity Shoot and bringing his methods and message to Nebraska:

2A4E, NRA-ILA and NFOA hosted a Diversity Show at Athena Arms in Bellevue Nebraska Sunday. There was an amazing turnout for the all day event. We had entire families come out, including one that drove in from Kansas City! The 2A4E Diversity Shoot was met with a lot of positive feedback from the attendees. I see lots of success in growing the firearms community in Nebraska especially with the combined team of the NFOA and the NRA-ILA.

I also had the chance to talk to Jon Anderson, the Director of Media of the Nebraska Firearms Owners Association and he had this to say about the importance of the event:

NFOA is a non-partisan organization and we have always welcomed members from any background. We stand for firearms freedom and work through educational campaigns, lobbying, and special events to educate our elected representatives and fellow citizens…As we work to grow our membership across Nebraska, we also want to be sure that every Nebraskan feels welcome to not only join our cause, but also welcome to simply inquire about us and why we do what we do, both as NFOA and as firearm owners.

The way that 2A4E welcomes everyone, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or any other factor is exactly how we at NFOA want to welcome new shooters, firearm owners, and members as well. When we decided to offer a Diversity Shoot event here in Nebraska, we also decided that we wanted to invite Tony and 2A4E to come to Nebraska to work with us and help make our inaugural event a success.

We are grateful for Tony’s help, along with all of our sponsors and volunteers, to make this happen here. We had multiple attendees who has never fired a gun before. Our volunteer firearms instructors saw fear and anxiety give way to joy, relief, accomplishment and empowerment on the range. I can’t think of a bigger success than that.

There’s a lot of good work going all over the country. The education, training, and awareness about gun safety and civil rights which The Second is for Everyone fosters needs to continue to be brought to the masses. Our rights are perishable, and unless we let people know that these are their rights too, everyone’s, we’ll absolutely lose them. Simon hits the nail on the head when he says “Grassroots activism is what is real and effective”, and that is exactly what he is doing. Be sure to stop by the DiversityShoot.com to learn more about Simon’s work and check the group out at The 2nd is for Everyone | Facebook.