This is not the article I planned to write. That would have described setting up a chapter of an existing group, so that others could understand how to do so. Although I have changed my mind about creating such a group, I did so for very personal reasons, and am not opposed to the concept.
Joining a state or national group has two very important benefits. It provides a structure, and camaraderie. You have an opportunity to meet others with like interests from many different places and myriad walks of life. It can be both surprising and enlightening to learn how many diverse people share your concerns. A group provides a place, both real and virtual, to seek solace, and to renew the spirit to continue in your endeavor both when times are hard, and when things are going your way.
Belonging to a group gives you an identity that others recognize. Wearing your “colors” or your insignia creates a bond, even if it is as fleeting as a wave or nod. It is an introduction that allows you to approach and be approached by strangers who are likely to become friends.
You get a format for conducting meetings, for interacting with other groups and agencies. You become not a single individual but a member of something. If, for example you are going to ask your local gun club for permission to use their facilities, you will be given a different reception as a member, even if it is of an unfamiliar group, because you are speaking not only for yourself but for many. If it is a well-known group, you will be accorded the respect that group has built.
The structure simplifies establishing your own chapter. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You can simply begin to use it.
I belong to several groups dealing with a variety of issues such as the Second Amendment, politics, skiing and fly-fishing. All have enriched my abilities and understanding. My performance as a shooter, skier and fisherwoman have improved through that participation to a degree that they would not have had I simply done them on my own.
The friendships that have been built through these associations are boundless. One of the things I particularly love is knowing people from all over whom I would never have met had I not participated. Many I see only at an annual meeting. Others I connect with almost daily through the Internet.
Therefore, after last fall’s Gun Rights Policy Conference, I could not wait to get home and join one of the organizations about which I had learned at that gathering. In fact, I did not wait, but started my application process while on the road, and immediately brought the idea of a local chapter to the attention of several of the women at my rod and gun club, as well as others who had attended our introductory events. Many were extremely enthusiastic about the idea of an organized women’s shooting group. When we got home, I approached one of the members of the club’s board of directors about the possibility of holding monthly meetings which would include using the shooting ranges for a group that included non-club members.
Then I hit three big snags. First, as the leader, I was required to “prove” that I was allowed to own a firearm. This proof could be in the form of a CCW or receipt for the purchase of a gun forwarded to the national organization. Second, the member of the board suggested there would be a monthly fee because I “would be collecting a lot of money.” The money collected was the membership fees of the women who would join. That money went directly to the national organization.
The third problem was enormous amounts of bookkeeping, all forwarded to the national organization. Sign-in sheets, subjects and speakers for each meeting, all forwarded and all owned by the national organization.
The bloom was off the rose. I would be asking my friends, several of whom already shoot together on a fairly regular basis, to join a group for $50 a year. Then we would have to pitch in and pay the club for the use of the facilities each month. All our records would belong to the parent group.
For me the accumulation of records of meetings, personal data in the application form, and, particularly, copies of licenses and sales data, was anathema. These are the kinds of documentation against which I have been fighting for many years. Even if collected by a benign entity that appears to be involved in maintaining and expanding gun rights and information, putting that kind of information in a single place seems risky. No conspiracy theory here, just caution. I am not in favor of registering guns with the manufacturers, either.
Information once collected is available to anyone with access to the computers on which it is stored. (Well, maybe a little conspiracy theory.)
Requiring the head of a local chapter to provide the required documentation is not without merit. No big organization should take the chance of having people represent them who might be ineligible to be doing the kind of things the group does, no matter what that is. I do not fault them for their caution.
Having been on the board of a national organization, I understand what happens when there are disputes among members and leaders. The membership of a group belongs to the group, not an individual chapter head. I do not fault them for keeping a tight rein. They have learned from either prior experience or, hopefully, from the experience of other entities. Every group is subject to mutiny, just as the Tree of Liberty must be fed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. Whether one is a patriot or a tyrant at the time of insurrection is usually determined by which side one is on.
It seemed that my September plan to create a reason for me to return to spending more time at the range was in dust by December. Instead of a joyful monthly gathering of friends, I would be swamped with paperwork, and worrying about finding speakers to entertain and enlighten. It sounded a lot like work.
Plan B was to revise my concept of the Mama-litia which I originally suggested in May of 2008.
When the Constitution was written, ”militia” referred to all able-bodied males between the ages of 16 (17 in some colonies) and 65. While we would keep the 16-year-old provision, gender and upper age are irrelevant, today. “Able-bodied” means capable of handling a firearm or other weapon. Many who can use a small firearm are small, weak, or physically handicapped. “Militia” becomes all citizens over the age of 16 who can handle a weapon.
“Well-regulated” means understanding and practicing the use and care of one’s weapons. It does not refer to uniforms, marching drills, or military ranking. Our Founders wanted a citizen army, not one under the direction of the government. Each individual would obtain and maintain his/her own weapons. They would keep proficient as a marksman. He or she would be ready should he ever be needed to defend self, family, home, town, country, or Constitution.
The definition of a “Mama-litia” seems self-evident. It is a female militia. Not a scary, running-through-the-woods-playing-war militia, but mama-taking-care-of-everyone militia.
Women getting together to train, to practice, to learn to take care of themselves. Women ready to protect themselves, their families, their homes, their towns, their country, their Constitution. Yeah. That’s what I want to do.