Happy Holidays!

I should have posted this right after the Annual Meeting (which was awesome, why didn’t you come?), but wow, was Florida exhausting! A huge special thanks to Keith and the Florida chapter for hosting an awesome meeting!

Wow, its been a great year for the club, as you may recall, we made some promises about our approach last year and added some new faces to help manage things!

What can I say? Its been amazing! We really kicked some of the infrastructure into high gear. We’ve stepped up our game with original content, pushing to get out at least one original article every single month, as it’s something that you, our dear reader, has asked us to do when it makes sense for us to stick our opinions in the mix.

More press, more fundraising, chapter growth, instructor program growth and finally a real merchandise program. We also updated the website and made tons of new friends both in and out of the industry! More on all that below! Last year was the year of Infrastructure.  We were even granted a Trademark for the club (more on that in another post)!

Build, baby, build!

Without further ado, highlights  from 2018 include:

Politics

  • You guys wanted us to be political, so we started being political. Modest steps, but important ones.
  • We managed to have opinions about legislation and proposed rule-making.
  • We added a formal process for candidate endorsement, it was past time we at least exercised our political opinions. If you have a friendly politico, we have a questionnaire they can answer to see if its a good fit. Reach out to us and get that started. The mid-terms are over, but election season sadly seems a year round event, so we might as well get a voice, no?
  • We actual did endorse our first two candidates, one in Missouri, the other in California, and while neither won, the results were promising, and we learned some things. We need to do more.

 Fundraising

  • We launched our first pledge drive and in just over a month we exceeded our stretch goal of $6000, all thanks to your support. We will continue to raise money without the fear, and for specific things that we want to accomplish. That money specifically will send our group to SHOT to make sure people will remember we exist!
  • One of the things we were able to do because of your support is upgrading our membership management software to support all of our current and lapsed members. This has allowed us to start communicating again with folks who fell out of touch with us for a variety of reasons and bring them back into the fold during our pledge drive.
  • It also allowed us to do a major website redesign, which was sorely needed, from both a look/feel perspective and a content accessibility perspective. Constant improvement isn’t free 🙂
  • We’ve sent folks to conferences trade shows, and the reception we got was amazing, so we need to send more people to more shows to represent that 40% of owners that seem left out of the conversation.
  • We’ll end the year with about $20k in the bank, which means we can indeed gear up for 2019 and start doing more things!

Merchandise

  • For years, we have had anemic merchandise options, some patches here, some t-shirts there and stickers over yonder. We played with Zazzle stores, Cafe Press, an anemic Amazon store. We had several volunteers, Michael Bertsch really invigorated the patch sales in 2017, but for one reason or another the rest of the swag never really took off. Until now.
  • Thanks to the hard work of John Wilson White, and with the re-design of the website managed by Eric Meyers, we actually have a real shop! And real inventory! Patches (ever popular), stickers, cleaning mats, chamber flags, T-shirts, pride stickers, oh my!
  • Its been so successful its now self sustaining. That means we sell enough merch to pay for the inventory and don;t have to use any general funds. That’s pretty darn good for a program less than 6 months old.
  • Sales in 2017 were about $2000. 2018 sales have been almost $5000 as of now.
  • Increased the number of products from 4 to 12.
  • We are exploring new offerings, and in the coming months, look for offerings such as EDC trauma kits, and a link to books by our favorite authors and LGC supporters who just happen to be prominent Second Amendment community leaders, including Rob Pincus, Grant Cunningham, and more!
  • Working to partner with selected organizations to share merchandise on each other’s sites.
  • And finally…..offering a velcro backed patch! (And yes, hats are coming shortly as well!)

Demographics and Club Growth

  • We’ve added over 700 new paying members in the past year bringing our total membership to over 2000 paying members,
  • We have more than 10,000 followers on Facebook. Three years ago, we were celebrating when we hit 1,000!
  • Twitter is still anemic, only about 1000 people follow us there. Maybe we can fix that?
  • And of course, the social media that started it all, our forums, sitting around 3000 folks although that fluctuates.
  • All combined, we have over 15,000 followers over all social media platforms, and we are routinely reaching over 20,000 people with our content on social media.  That is a lot of eyeballs on our stuff. so many that we are now considered “influencers” in the Second Amendment sphere. Cool, eh?

Chapter Growth

  • We now have 23 chapters, and our largest chapter, California, has doubled in size over the last year. Its amazing how quickly that happened. You guys are getting together, electing local officers, and shooting stuff. Its good. Its very good.

Instructor Program

  • We’re now up to 34 instructors, and have added a new chapter instructor program, which subsidizes the training fee of one instructor per chapter to ensure that we can at a minimum, offer introductory programs to meet the requests of students wherever we have an active chapter.
  • Special shout out to Daniel Postilnik, our Instructor coordinator whose hard work and dedication has built the program into what is today.

Press, trade shows and podcasts!

  • While our own podcast has paused in recent months, we’ve been busy and its too much to list it all here. The press primer has been updated.
  • Lara Cullinane Smith, our national spokesperson, in addition to regular press interviews, appeared on several industry podcasts, including Coffe with Craig DeLuz, Assorted Caliber, and Gun Freedom Radio.
  • One of the big deals was our invitation to speak at the Gun Rights Policy Conference in IL. Lara and her colleagues dropped the mic a couple times, and it was glorious.
  • Look for our podcast to return in a new format!

That’s a lot of stuff, and I am sure I missed some things.

While last year was the year of Infrastructure, this upcoming year is going to be the year of Influence. What does that mean and what do we want to do? Lots of things, here’s some stuff we talked about at the annual meeting:

Partnerships– In addition to maintaining our affiliations with the CMP (have you bought a Garand yet?) and the USAS, we are actively working to develop partnerships with organizations that will help advance our goals without being anathema to our principles. Folks who eschew the traditional politics, focus on root cause mitigation, and support both the sporting and defensive uses of firearms. While they may not always be in agreement with some of OUR political positions, we believe these folks are doing more good than harm, they are willing to talk to us and put our differences aside, and have proved friendly to our cause. We want to make meaningful additions to this list:

  • WTTA – Walk the Talk- America’s mission is to fund research and development for outreach and promotion of mental health to reduce the misconceptions and prejudices that exist when it comes to mental illness and firearms. They believe they can be a catalyst for change by working with experts in the mental health industry. We agree.
  • 2AO – We’re very excited about the revitalized Second Amendment Organization and their naming of our friend Rob Pincus, to lead the group. Rob is a tireless, intelligent and reasonable advocate for the Second Amendment and all around great guy. We’re proud to know him and have him as a member. 2AO (Second Amendment Organization) is a nonprofit, non-political, grassroots organization with a focus on engaging, educating, and equipping all shooters, firearms owners and pro-Second Amendment businesses in order to protect and preserve the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and to connect pro-Second Amendment businesses with like-minded consumers. 2AO’s very large support base of businesses and individuals from both sides of the political aisle, highlight its diverse community of responsible gun owners in America. Check their sight out, we think there is a lot to like!
  • NSSF – The NSSF’s goal is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 12,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers. In addition to their advocacy and organizing the annual SHOT show (see elsewhere) they have embarked on programs to encourage responsible and safe gun ownership, including safe firearm storage as a suicide prevention mechanism. We look forward to exploring more ways to work with the NSSF and advocate for real firearms safety.

Trade Shows– Last year, our magnificent spokesperson, Lara, added formal attendance to several gun rights and industry shows in addition to busily responding to interview requests. There’s more than just right wing politicos at these shows, there are people who genuinely believe in preserving rights and being inclusive to more than just middle aged white guys who vote (R). While the LGC isn’t here to convince your typical internet commando-wannabe conservative gun owner, we are here to reach people who aren’t caricatures.  So in addition for finding gun owning liberals, we’ve left our safe space and started meaningful discussions with people who don’t suck. We will be attending SHOT and GRPC again, obviously, but, If there are policy conferences, industry or political events you think might be a good fit, contact us. If you represent such a show, contact us! (no, really, contact us!)

More Press Please

  • We want to be more proactive and less passive. If you see a news story that you think we should respond to, let us know! Hook us up with the reporter. We love the press, we want to talk to them! Really, they should contact us! (Note that we do have a formal process for press interviews.  Contact Lara for more information.)

More Members

  • We got to over 2000 paying members this year, but in addition to finding new folks and growing the local chapters, there are some 1500 members who have not renewed. Some of them won’t come back. We’re not liberal enough, or we’re not conservative enough, or whatever. But many of them may have just forgot to renew, lost track of us, or were unable to donate. We want the ones who want to be here to come back. So tell your friends, tell your coworkers, and tell your range buddies. And if someone says they used to be a member, let them know there is still a place for them.

More Chapters

  • We need more locals to step up and get together. Even in smaller states there are enough members to form a chapter, it just takes you chipping in and helping out- reach out through our website and our membership director will get back to you and assist you with best practices, bylaws, and membership outreach to get a local chapter rolling. There is strength in numbers, and going to the range with friends is fun.
  • What? You don’t have a local chapter? What are you waiting for?

More Instructors

  • In addition to the Chapter Instructor, (you know, we want at least one instructor per chapter, and a chapter in every state, what are you waiting for?) program, we’re working on new content, like a “Make it Safe” program for parents, teachers, and others who may encounter firearms, inspired by Forgotten Weapons recent work.
  • We know people are begging for a series of Rifle skills classes, so our instructor team is busy in the bunker cooking one up
  • Lastly, we believe skills are a critical capability, not just for our instructors but also for any shooter, so look for a Trauma class to appear in 2019.
  • Why aren’t you an instructor again?

More Volunteers

  • Are you good at social media?  Are you an SEO guru?  Do you have some skill you’d be willing to donate to the club?  We are always looking for help.  As you know, we are 100% volunteer run – yes, that means that none of us at all, including the leadership, get paid for this.  So we can always use more help.  We are especially in need of help with expanding our social media reach, but there are numerous ways in which you can help the club. Reach out and let us know if you have a few (or a lot) of hours.

That’s a lot to pursue, but in addition to all the other great things that happened in 2018, we have a great group of dedicated volunteers. Eric Meyers and Lara Cullinane Smith help me run the show, John Wilson White has been amazing with merch, and Daniel Postilnik as always with training. Not to mention 23 chapter presidents, we really couldn’t do it without all of them. And we couldn’t do anything without our members!

By some accounts, there are more liberal and independent firearm owners than there are NRA members, those folks seem interested in intelligent, fact over fear based conversations and education. The future looks pretty bright from here.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Have a safe and happy holiday season, and hopefully I will get to meet even more of you as 2019 wears on!