This is how it started, 3-21-20
|BINGHAMTON RIFLE CLUB URGENT CLUB NEWS CORONAVIRUS UPDATE|
|HELLO BINGHAMTON RIFLE CLUB MEMBERS In response to the State and local directives, requirements and recommendations in regards to Coronavirus, the Binghamton Rifle Club is considered a non-essential business and will be closing the range for all activities including casual use. This is effective immediately and will continue until updated directives are received from the State and local authorities. The door access system will be disabled. Please watch out for follow up emails on this subject. Thank you. The Executive Committee of the Binghamton Rifle Club|
This was my response, 3-21-20:
I’ve been a member of this club for nearly two decades and have never had an issue with our leadership until now. I am asking that the Executive Committee rescind their decision made earlier today and align club policy with what I believe is a closer representation of the will of the members and the spirit of the firearms community.
Our club ought to be leading by example and not be cowed so quickly by unilateral government decree. The club is a large enough building as to afford members sufficient “social distancing” while still remaining open. If convenience stores, gas stations and the Hum-Dinger Ice Cream Store can remain in operation, there is no good reason that our club should voluntarily close. We could easily self-police our activity to 3-5 members at a time while remaining safe and responsible.
This is what the Governor’s directive says in part:
11. Essential Services Necessary to Maintain the Safety, Sanitation and Essential Operations of Residences or Other Essential Businesses, Including: (partial listing)
fire prevention and response
building code enforcement
emergency management and response
As responsible and well-trained firearms owners, aren’t we best suited to assist in maintaining the safety… and security of residents and other essential businesses? I believe that our club and its members qualify as ESSENTIAL SERVICES as defined by the Governor’s own decree as outlined above.
If there ever was a time to demonstrate leadership by example, while endangering no one, the Executive Committee ought to recognize that the members of the club, individually, should determine, for themselves, if they CHOOSE to use the club during this time. If you’re uncomfortable using the club for now, stay home.
This rapid decision to simply shut down seems to me antithetical to what I always thought firearms owners stood for. It certainly flies in the face of my beliefs and I don’t believe I’m alone. Was the purpose of our firearms and all of the training only to produce tools for punching tiny holes in paper targets?
I think we have a moral obligation to push-back on an oppressive government. We can and should remain open while simultaneously practicing the distancing protocols. We need to lead by example. We are proud and patriotic citizens not subjects to be lorded over. If I’m a lone voice in the dark on this, maybe I’m in the wrong club.
This is an email I received from Tkutz31@stny.rr.com. I’m supposing a member of the Executive Committee, 3-22-20
The decision of the Executive Committee to close the club was not done in haste but was with careful consideration of the Federal, State and local directives and recommendations in this unprecedented situation. We believe the closure of the range is consistent with other clubs in our area and is consistent with the recommendations set forth to help assist in controlling the spread of the Coronavirus.
We realize this impacts all of the members and also believe this is a temporary situation.
We realize the inconvenience this causes our members but we feel this is the right decision.
The Executive Committee of the Binghamton Rifle Club
This is my letter in response to “Tkutz31@stny.rr.com, 3-22-20
My original letter to the “Executive Committee” explicitly explains why our club fits into the exemptions the state outlined. The decisions that other clubs in our area made are immaterial. Leadership isn’t about taking a poll of what others are doing, that is called following. Perhaps if we demonstrate our rationale in staying open and thereby allow members to decide for themselves, other clubs would find that as inspirational leadership.
Let me provide you with an actual real-life example. My church held a service today. We were perhaps the only church in the areas to do so. Our sanctuary seats over 300. Before this “crisis”, our numbers would be between 35 and 55 on any given Sunday. Today, 5 of us were in the pews. Counting the choir and support staff, 13 in total. While the majority chose to not attend, the point is the decision was left to members, not leadership. Leadership showed up to lead. Parishioners were able to make their own decision, attend church, and socially distance themselves as they saw fit. No need for “leadership” to assist them in decision making.
Effective and brave leaders don’t put their finger to the wind, they empower others.
While it would have been perfectly reasonable to suspend club events that grouped people together, it was not reasonable to close the club entirely.
Marco Rubio is quoted as saying, “We live in a society obsessed with public opinion. But leadership has never been about popularity.” Followers dwell on problems, leader on empowerment.
Do the courageous and reverse the decision to completely close the club.
After my second letter protesting the clubs rationale, all communications stopped. When that happened, I decided to post my letters on the club Face Book page. They were promptly taken down. Seeing that, I decided to post a photo of the club on the Face Book page expressing my outrage over their decision making: Here it is:
The picture was quickly taken down and I was blocked from posting on the Binghamton Rifle Club Face Book page. I then had a friend post to the club page, “What happened to Bob Kingsley’s posts?” That too was taken down.
The Twilight Zone
Imagine if you will, a small gun club in upstate New York, over a 100 year old, quick to cow to government decree and comfortable censoring its own members and anyone else who disagrees.
Wait, a GUN club, super-submissive to questionable governmental edicts, embracing the muzzling of speech and censoring its members? I thought the general perception of the “gun-culture” was anti-government, anti-edict, anti-establishment of anything and general apprehension of authority? The leadership at the Binghamton Rifle Club, (BRC) apparently needs a reminder from Thomas Jefferson who tells us, “The government is best which governs the least because its people discipline themselves.”
Apparently not so at the BRC. I am an eighteen-year member and I questioned the decision that closed the club to all activity due to the Corona-virus outbreak. While I understood and supported suspending activities that congregated people in close groups, my point was that individuals could safely use the facility while practicing appropriate social distancing.
The club has 24/7 access and I posited that certainly 3-5 members could occupy a 12-lane shooting range in 3000 square feet of space while keeping distancing protocols. I reasoned that members could decide for themselves the risks, just as they do at the grocery store, pharmacy or hardware store.
At first, I lobbied club leadership privately via email. When my concerns and request to re-open the club went unresolved, I reasoned that perhaps other club members felt as I did. To find out, I posted my correspondence to leadership on the clubs Face Book, (FB) page in the effort to engage the some 600 plus members. The club was quick to take down my posts. Flabbergasted by this, I posted a picture of the club with the words: “Frozen by Fear” photo-shopped onto the building. The club took down the photo and blocked me from posting to my own clubs FB page.
Rod Serling, the creator of the Twilight Zone TV series so popular in the 1960’s was born in Binghamton, NY. What a coincident that the story of the Binghamton Rifle Club today just might suggest a twilight zone episode. Who would have thought that a 106 year-old rifle club could morph itself into a warped mentality that believes censorship and compliance without question is the right way to lead?
I wonder just how many other gun clubs and traditionally organizations historically thought of as “conservative” are likewise losing their way and their vision? Might the Corona-virus situation be providing a beta-test laboratory for those in positions of power to observe and calculate just how far the American populace can be pushed?
Conservative American’s and especially those of us focused on the 2nd Amendment should be on the front lines of a healthy skepticism towards government. Voltaire provides a clarion song when he said, “It is dangerous to be right in matters where established men are wrong.”
Hopefully, the BRC is not the canary in the coal mine for the trajectory of political philosophy in our nation. We must assert ourselves as citizens not subjects and heed Thomas Jefferson who said: “A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take all that you have.”
Interesting how things work. On Saturday, March 28, 2020 President Trump refined the wording to his list of critical pandemic infrastructure with this. “The new language, added to the website of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, now deems as critical “Workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges.”
TO: The “Executive Committee”
FROM: Bob Kingsley (03-29-20)
RE: Club Closure and Censorship
I have made my positions and objections clear. In response, you have censored me and others by taking down mine and other club members FaceBook, (FB) posts of opposing viewpoints. The FB site as well as the club web presence belongs to the members, not exclusively to the “Executive Committee” to pick and choose only viewpoints it likes.
You expose your fear and lack of leadership by hiding behind the canard of “liability.” My professional life involves on a daily basis the law, insurance and liability. I understand the subject matter intimately. This virus exposes the club to no more liability than normal.
Yesterday, President Trump also added clarity to the situation by adding these words to the list of critical pandemic infrastructure. The new language added to the website of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, now deems as critical “Workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges.”
It is unfortunate that club “leadership” wasn’t able to embrace this as fact before being directed to by presidential decree. It is also unacceptable that club leaders believe they know better than members in making decisions about using the club or not.
Now that club leadership has been enlightened, this is what should follow, and in this order.
- Re-open the club, with appropriate guidelines
- Re-post all of the material you saw fit to censor
- Issue an apology to all members for censoring feedback
There is no reason these measures should take any more than 24 hours to implement.
Should this fail to happen, I will consider it clear that the club does embrace censorship and leading from behind. At that point, I will seek a larger audience for cataloging just what has happened here and let the court of public opinion decide the righteousness of the “Executive Committees” decisions.