How Local Gun Clubs Can Help Save the Second Amendment

AP Photo/Michael Hill

In today’s world, it’s common for people to form associations and friendships with others they have only met online and never in person, let alone interacted with via audio or video. However, we still live in the real world and are most impacted by the laws of the governmental jurisdictions we live in. That’s why the focus of Second Amendment activism must have a solid grounding in real world local and state activism, and not be too online and too federal.


There is a big force in the firearms community that remains untapped in my opinion and that’s gun clubs. This is where people get together to participate in the shooting sports, whether it’s recreational plinking with friends or shooting clay targets in a competition. Gun clubs are more than a means of social cohesion; in-person discussions, persuasion, and action among like-minded individuals are very effective, and gun clubs offer opportunities for all of those.

No one exactly knows how many gun clubs there are out there. The NRA’s website says that they have over 10,000 affiliated clubs, associations, and businesses, without stating the breakdown of that number. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) runs the amazing website, which lists both NSSF member and non-member gun clubs and ranges. (A quick search revealed that there are 45 gun clubs and ranges within 40 miles of where I live.) It’s hard to estimate how many clubs are out there, but I’m willing to bet it’s in the tens of thousands, possibly well over a hundred thousand.

Each gun club offers a unique opportunity to influence firearms policy in the right direction. At the local level, the involvement of a gun club is important for self-preservation. Gun ranges are routinely affected by zoning and noise ordinances. Sometimes, they are targeted by local officials who use zoning and noise as pretexts because they want to squelch gun culture. That’s why it’s important for gun clubs to be proactive at the local level, not just scramble to react after getting caught off-guard when a local government makes moves against them.


Gun clubs are spread throughout each state. They’re located not just in rural areas but also in urban areas. At the state level, gun clubs can be a potent way to remind legislators, especially those in urban areas, that there are a lot of gun owners out there who support the original meaning of the Second Amendment and don’t appreciate the various artifices used to infringe on our rights. Even in a state like New York, an estimated 20% of the populace owns guns. In California, that increases to almost 30%. There are gun clubs in urban areas of even the most hostile states.

While state and national organizations are important, local gun clubs are the biggest force multiplier in pro-Second Amendment advocacy. Gun clubs make it possible to convey to tuned-out members what’s either not reported or barely covered in the news. At my local gun club, there was a member who had no idea about the disastrous New York ammunition background check law that was in effect. Rangegoers alerted him to what would happen the next time he went to pick up a box of ammo. Gun clubs are a great medium to motivate people through in-person contact and discussions. Gun clubs can help register voters and deliver them to the polls.

There’s another very important function that gun clubs can serve, and that’s legislative outreach and lobbying. Because gun clubs are in political proximity to local and state elected officials, they can use their members to lobby elected officials in-person. They can create petitions, collect hand-written signatures, and deliver them in person to elected officials. They can have members keep an eye on legislative agendas and proceedings to act fast to address anything problematic. They can send their members to testify and provide perspective to a local legislative body.


Gun clubs can also invite legislators to their range. Given how a lot of firearms legislation is rooted in ignorance, gun clubs can offer free classes to legislators who know nothing about guns to bring them on board. It’s possible to change most hearts and minds, and it’s better to do that when a politician is active at the local level and thus approachable than when a politician moves to higher office and becomes harder to reach.

Most importantly, what gun clubs offer is the ability to humanize gun owners. Putting names and faces tells hostile elected representatives that we are ordinary people, that we are not evil, that we respect life as much as everyone else, and show how we are unfairly portrayed and maligned by the media.

Given what can be accomplished, does your gun club have a legislative outreach committee? If yes, how effective and active is it? If not, can you start one and move your gun club into a proactive posture? Liberty belongs to those who are willing to tend to it. If you’re reading this, can you take the first step if your club hasn’t?

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