By Shari Spivack
“First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.” — Pastor Martin Niemoeller
New Jersey –-(Ammoland.com)- As I am writing this in New Jersey we are waiting on hearing whether new stricter gun laws will be enacted against NJ gun owners.
On the table are laws that will replace the Firearms Identification Card, a necessary document in New Jersey if you want to purchase firearms, with a notification on your driver’s license.
Photo identification is already required to make a firearm purchase in New Jersey. A driver’s license is a form of identification used frequently and is shown to service providers such as car rental agencies, hotels, employers and schools. Encoding a driver’s license in this way, invades the privacy of individuals, tagging them as gun owners and opening them up to potential harassment, police vehicle searches and discrimination.
Other laws proposed include banning private sales of guns and stricter laws concerning the purchase of ammunition. If you aren’t a gun owner, you might think some of these laws sound sensible. If you are a gun owner, you know these laws are direct attacks on law abiding citizens and do very little if anything to curb violent crime.
But what can you as an individual do about it? It turns out there is a lot each of us can do to support sensible gun laws in New Jersey and across the United States.
When an individual looks at what gun owners are up against, how the media and politicians are portraying guns and gun owners it seems like anything proactive we can do as individuals would be a drop in the bucket and effect no change. So why make the effort and get involved at all?
When it comes to effecting change in public policy it can be hard to internalize the idea that the actions of one can in fact make a difference.
As average everyday people we get bogged down with life. We are busy with work, family, health issues and other stressors that leave little free time to get involved with politics. But every person can do something, even one thing to make their voice heard and lend their support. Not everyone can run out and attend a rally or speak at a town hearing, but there is something, however small that each individual can fit into their schedule and comfort zone.
The first step is to ban the idea from your mind that your actions will not be needed or helpful, so you might as well sit home and do nothing.
Every person’s contribution is important. When faced with the decision to act or not, you can decide that you don’t have the time, knowledge or experience and sit on the sidelines, or you can jump in with what you have. And don’t assume that because the issue doesn’t directly affect you at the moment that you should not act now. No one person can do everything or represent everyone, so when you contribute it helps create a diverse patchwork of activism.
When I became a gun owner in New Jersey, I had no idea the depth of the political issues and restrictive legislation that existed in my state. The more I learned, the more I knew that I needed to do something.
As a stay at home mother at the time, with four young kids I figured there wasn’t much I could do to make a difference. Then I considered what skills I did have and how they could be useful. I was active in our local medical charity organization. Every month I helped write and edit a newsletter which shared stories of people who volunteered their time and the difference it made in people’s lives. Sometimes it was not more than driving a home bound elderly woman to a doctor appointment, or cooking a meal for someone who was home with a new baby. But each action was like a droplet in a pool of water – a ripple effect. When an object is dropped in water, the ever expanding ripple effect from the initial action can flow outwards incrementally. When someone takes the initiative and performs even just a small act, the effect can be monumental. You never know what your small action will motivate and inspire in someone else.
So for me, I started to write. I wrote about the joy of being a gun owner, the frustration at the restrictive gun laws in my state and what it means to be able to exercise my second amendment rights. And if I inspired even one person to write a letter to their elected representative, to attend a shooting event, to apply for a firearms identification card, then I feel that I made a difference. I am a busy working, single mother now, but I always make the time to do just one thing to support positive gun laws in my state. I might sign a petition, take the day off from work to go to a rally at the State house, or volunteer my time as a firearms instructor to teach new shooters and help them get started in gun ownership; but I always try to do something.
Consider the concept known as the “butterfly effect”. The butterfly effect refers to the idea that a change in the atmosphere that amounts to the flap of a butterfly's wings might be enough to ultimately alter the path or delay a tornado in another location. How could a small butterfly have anything to do with a storm system miles away? The butterfly itself does not stop the tornado from occurring. Like a domino effect, the flap of its wings represents a small change in the initial condition of the atmosphere, which causes a chain of events leading to a larger scale effect. Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the storm might have been vastly different – it's possible that without the butterfly’s small flapping wings, the tornado would not be prevented from occurring. Similar to a droplet falling into a pool of water, the ripples in the atmosphere from a butterfly can go out for miles.
Of course the butterfly didn’t go out of its way to prevent a tornado. This was an unintended consequence of its tiny actions. There are numerous examples of individuals that took one small action that changed history. For example, when Rosa Parks refused to get off a crowded bus she probably didn’t think her small action would create a widespread stand against racism and segregation. You may not make history like Rosa Parks, but you can experience the liberating power of positive actions and you never know what kind of results you may stir up.
I know that I cannot sit on the sidelines and wait for someone else to make the difference so I will continue to take whatever small actions I can. No, I can’t attend every rally or event. But I will continue to take the initiative to do things that fall within my ability and comfort zone.
When I meet someone who says “Thank you for volunteering at the shooting event last week, I went to my police department and applied for my FID card”, then I know I made a difference and possibly started a chain reaction.
Even when it seems that the war is futile, we are not defeated yet. Every action has a ripple effect and like the butterfly you never know how a small action you take today will effect a change for future generations. And that is enough for me.
Some things that you can do to make a difference:
- Join or volunteer for the NRA, NSSF, NJ2AS or other local firearms organization
- Introduce someone to gun ownership in a positive way
- Exercise your right to vote
- Apply for a firearms identification card or purchase a gun
- Sign a petition to support positive laws for gun owners in your state
- Join a range
- Email, fax or call your elected representatives and tell them that you don’t support restrictive gun laws
NJ2AS Women's Coordinator
New Jersey Second Amendment Society – Our mission is to promote the free exercise of Second Amendment rights within the community and Legislature of New Jersey, to educate the community regarding the enjoyable, safe, and responsible use of firearms, and to engender a sense of camaraderie and fellowship among the members and their families. Visit: www.nj2as.com