The Ten Minute Revolution
Did you miss it? Were you part of it? Where were you when it happened? Did you even know it happened?
Odds are good that you haven't a clue what we're talking about, so let me elaborate. Last month, a federal regulatory agency - the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosive - threw in the towel on not one but two new restrictions it was attempting to foist on the American public. They did not some suffer some moral crisis or an attack of conscience. They were not exposed by some brave journalist who uncovered their secretive bureaucratic overreach. They were not ordered to stop by some noble politician, acting in the best interests of his or her constituency.
They were stopped by "we, the people." And it took us ten minutes.
What started it all
In late 2013, the ATF decided to randomly change the way it treated legal trusts via what was termed "Notice 41P."
Since 1934, items like "short-barreled rifles and shotguns" (with barrels shorter than sixteen and eighteen inches, respectively), machine guns, and suppressors fell under the federal "National Firearms Act" or NFA. You could still own them, but you had to pay a $200 tax to the federal government and get approval in the form of a tax stamp. If you were an individual, you also had to get your local chief law enforcement officer to sign off on your application and, since there is no legal requirement to do so, it your approval was based on said chief's views on guns, political leanings, or whim of the moment. However, if you formed a legal trust and purchased the item under its umbrella, no ring-kissing was needed - just tax-paying.
This was the system in place for well over half a century, and no issues arose from its open and legal use. However, the ATF decided to change all that... just because (a recurring and disturbing theme with regulatory agencies). Since such rule changes require a comment period, it was announced to the public.
While the NFA community might be only a small subset of Americans, "small" is a relative term. The floodgates opened. Tens of thousands of law-abiding citizens have made use of these trusts to bypass the selective denial of their rights through subjective scrutiny of local officials. Thousands more are joining their ranks each year. The public comments were, quite literally, overwhelming and almost entirely opposed.
The second front opened
While the ATF dealt with the storm of "No!" they had unwittingly unleashed, they doubled down on making random regulatory changes. This time, they declared that commonly-used rifle ammunition without any steel core was actually rare and exotic handgun ammunition with a steel core and therefore under its purview to ban. "Declare" is a term used loosely, as the change wasn't published in the Federal Register as is the standard procedure, ostensibly because it was a "policy change" rather than a new regulation. Regardless, word leaked out and again there was a public outcry.
Even though a "policy change" does not require a public comment period, the ATF attempted to appease the public by asking for input on how - not if - the change should be implemented. National gun organizations such as the National Rifle Association, local rights groups such as the Colorado Second Amendment Association (full disclosure: I am a C2AA co-founder and board member, and am good friends with the folks running the organization), and even small, liberty-minded blogs such as DoLP took to the internet and social media to spread the word about the blatant overreach, and to plead with citizens to write in opposition.
They did. You did. We did.
The ATF was buried. By law, all comments must be responded to by a representative of the agency - individually. They had already been laboring under the weight of comments opposing 41P when a tsunami of opposition to their "armor-piercing ban" change. Over three hundred and ten thousand comments were received on the latter issue alone, and so many resources needed to be diverted to respond to them that the 41P ruling was postponed three times.
Both proposed changes have stalled. While they are not officially abandoned and may resurface, it is unlikely to be any time soon. They have ground to a halt because citizens unwittingly channeled Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals". We implemented Rule #4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”
And it required nothing from each individual other than to spend ten minutes writing a single email.
The whole point
It's human nature to spend ridiculous amounts of time and energy looking for the million dollar idea that will solve all our problems at once. Unfortunately, this means we often overlook the hundred dollar idea that, if done ten thousand times, will net us the same fortune we seek.
There was no dramatic lawsuit, no prime time expose, no "champion of the little guy" in the halls of Congress. There was only one person, spending ten minutes, multiplied thousand of times. And it stopped "the powers that be" in their tracks.
We need to stop looking for a political messiah. We need to stop wallowing in hopelessness because "the system is too big and too broken to fix." If we want to stop government overreach and intrusion, we need to stop wishing we were somebody important and start realizing that we are somebody important - and that there are thousands more just like us. We need to start being revolutionaries - and radicals.
It took ten minutes. It stopped them cold. Don't miss the next revolt.