Illinois –-(Ammoland.com)- It is amazing to me that we are already in 2015.
The year 2014 was a huge year for the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) because of all the changes we made internally.
The Illinois State Rifle Association has always been innovative. Last year was a real challenge. For some time we had been considering completely revamping our website ( www.isra.org ) ; in 2014 it happened. It is one thing to plan the website, trying to think of everything; it is another to actually launch it.
That was an eye opening experience. Things did not always work as planned. The great thing about the experience is that no one quit when things were not working according to plan. Everyone pitched in and kept working to make it better, and we are still making improvements. To all those who helped, I want to say thank you.
The other major change came from the passage of the Illinois Concealed Carry Licensing Act. What that caused was a tremendous surge of firearm training in Illinois. Last week I learned there were over 102,000 concealed carry licenses that had been applied for (we made the 100,000 goal for applications the first year). That means over 102,000 people have gone through training in less than a year. That does not count all the instructors who have also received instructor training, and those family and friends that have learned from the new Illinois Concealed Carry License holder. Then there are those who have received more advanced training.
I estimate that around 500,000 people in Illinois are newly exposed to firearms and firearm safety. That is significant.
The desire for not only more training but advanced training as well, was the catalyst for the ISRA to make another notable change. This change consists of three interrelated parts. Recognizing that people want and need more training led to the development of the ISRA Academy. Our problem was that we needed more ranges in order to offer more training to the people. With only a limited space, we were able to build four new firearm ranges. These ranges are for education, training, practice, and competition; they are designated as Ranges 8, 9, 10, and 11.
The other problem was that we only had outdoor facilities. Teaching the classroom portion outdoors is troublesome – videos don't work, PowerPoints do not work, papers blow around, and it is either too hot or too cold. The solution was to build a Clubhouse with adequate classroom size, offices, and nice restrooms. We have almost completed that. There is painting and some more work to do on the building, but we are getting very close to finishing. Our first class will be held there on January 31, 2015.
The third leg of operation was to develop the ISRA Academy. It is great to have ranges and a classroom, but now you have to develop a staff to teach classes. Moreover, these classes must appeal to the new shooter as well as the experienced shooter. On top of that, there has to be a path to allow a new shooter to become an experienced shooter.
If you look at the classes in the ISRA Academy, we offer everything from instructor classes to advanced classes taught by Massad Ayoob and others. We not only offer classes at our range near Kankakee, but also in Chillicothe and Chatsworth, Illinois. At this time, we are offering about 35 classes. We are also working on a class for emergency medical response for instructors and range officers. If you are interested, let us know. This class will be offered late winter or early spring of 2015.
The ISRA Range now has eleven firearm and archery ranges. Range 12 is an Olympic air pistol and rifle range in the new Clubhouse. While 2014 has been quite a year for the ISRA, the year 2015 will be filled with extraordinary challenges and we will have to work together to overcome them.
Top Ten Anti-Gunners of 2014
To give you an idea of what we are facing, below is a list of the top ten anti-gunners, published by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA). This list has been compiled by David Workman of the CCRKBA, a longtime friend of the ISRA.
Michael Bloomberg – This billionaire tops the list for using his wealth to buy elections in an effort to turn the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms into a heavily-regulated government privilege. Bloomberg spent $50 million to create Everytown for Gun Control, the anti-gun lobbying organization. He helped finance the Initiative 594 gun control campaign in Washington State and he is supporting a similar effort in Nevada.
Others on the list, in alphabetical order, are:
- Paul Allen – The billionaire co-founder of Microsoft and principle owner of the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers, he dumped a half-million dollars into the I-594 gun control campaign in Washington State.
- Steve Ballmer – Another Microsoft alumni and owner of the L.A. Clippers who added more than $1 million to the I-594 effort to criminalize perfectly legal activities in the Evergreen State.
- Hillary Clinton – The former First Lady and Secretary of State suggested earlier this year that gun owners “terrorize” people by vigorously defending the Second Amendment. She also supported the unratified UN Arms Trade Treaty.
- Andrew Cuomo – The New York Governor who championed that state's Draconian SAFE (for Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement) Act, which is responsible for job losses in addition to penalizing every gun owner in the state.
- Rahm Emanuel – The vehemently anti-gun Mayor if Chicago whose administration has stubbornly resisted adoption of rational gun policies that would allow citizens to defend themselves against out-of-control violence in the Windy City.
- Bill Gates – The billionaire Microsoft co-founder and his wife contributed more than $1 million to the I-594 gun control effort, thus helping to pay for one of the most insidious political campaigns in the United States.
- Nick Hanauer – Another elitist Seattle-area billionaire who launched the I-594 gun control campaign and poured more than $1 million into the effort. His deplorable effort to exploit the Pilchuck High School tragedy by sarcastically suggesting that, “We need more school shootings”, was an offensive new low in anti-gun politics.
- Eric Holder – The outgoing U.S. Attorney General fought to stall release of thousands of documents related to the Operation Fast and Furious scandal, finally losing his battle in federal court this past fall.
- Shannon Watts – As founder of the Bloomberg-supported Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Watts has spread lies and disinformation about gun crime and campaigned against good laws that bolster personal protection outside the home.
If you are not familiar with the I-594 Initiative, it was an anti-gun measure placed on the ballot in Washington State in the 2014 General Election. The immense money and power brought to bear against the pro-gun forces overwhelmed them. I expect similar attacks here in Illinois and every other state. The key to all of this is a large and active membership. An organization can't be built fast enough to respond to an attack like gun owners faced in Washington State. A strong well-funded organization must be in place when the attack comes, and these attacks are well-financed and swift.
If you know anyone who is not an ISRA member, please recruit them to join now. Thanks for all you do!
Thanks for being a member or supporter..
Happy New Year!Richard Pearson
ISRA Executive Director
The ISRA is the state's leading advocate of safe, lawful and responsible firearms ownership. Since 1903, the ISRA has represented the interests of over 1.5 million law-abiding Illinois firearm owners Visit: www.isra.org