(Received: 02/28/2011, Posted: 02/29/2011)


The Secret of IGOLD

I have a secret to share with you.

Have you heard of IGOLD? Well, itís quite likely that if youíre reading this on the ISRA website or in an ISRA email that you already know of IGOLD. But thatís not the secret.

IGOLD is Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day, and itís been around for a few years now, having grown out of a smaller event that was called ISRA Lobby Day. Why the new name? The ISRA has been partnering with other organizations in Illinois to make this a bigger, better event, and it has been a success, and grows every year. Sure, Iíd like for everyone who attends to be an ISRA member, but itís more important for all Illinois gun owners to be there, regardless of what organization they belong to. Someone recently departed from us, Gene Martin from Guns Save Life, came up with the name IGOLD, and that has help the event be more inclusive and have a larger outreach. But thatís not the secret, either.

I bought my first firearm in my 30ís during the Clinton Administration. One of my friends took me shooting a couple of times & he planted the thought that if I didnít soon exercise my right to keep and bears arms, perhaps someday there would be no opportunity. I became an NRA member too, right away after becoming a gun owner. I joined the ISRA a couple of months after that, I met the recruiter at the ISRA table in the local gunshow. The next spring I found out about Lobby Day for the first time.

My shooting buddy and I carpooled to Springfield for Lobby Day. We got there early and found some on-street metered parking. We went to the legislative briefing, and there I saw faces for the first time that I would come to know later as my mentors, folks like Richard Pearson and Jim Vinopal. I saw NRA lobbyist Todd Vandermyde there, too. Heís another great influence.

Well equipped from the briefing, armed with a few pieces of paper, my friend and I made our way to meet our legislators, along with all the other ďlobbyists for a dayĒ. I got to meet my senator, but not my representative. We walked the capitol building, which is very ornate and grandiose, plus the office buildings, which are more modern.

But what really left an impression on me was not the surroundings, but the legislative process itself, and my role in it. Because that day I was there, I was part of the process. That day, the legislators were not just approached by the full time lobbyists, but by the individual gun owners and voters who took the time to get to Springfield and meet them face to face. Do you remember those ads the NRA ran with famous people saying ďIím the NRAĒ? From that day forward, I can say ďIím the gun lobbyĒ, because I was there. And I continue to go back.

Since forming IGOLD, weíve multiplied the effect of the individual lobbying, because we now form a wall of citizens as we march to the capitol. We have expanded the number of people that receive the message, the call to go to Springfield, but it only means something if you are the one who goes there. But perhaps just casting a bigger net is not enough, thatís the reason Iím sharing my own IGOLD experience with you. And who knows, maybe once again the event will inspire someone that becomes part of the next generation of ISRA leadership.

So whatís the secret? Thatís easy now: The secret of IGOLD is being there.

The world is run by the people that show up. Take a vacation day, youíve earned it. Spend it in Springfield, you and your fellow gun owners need it. For one day that lasts forever, be the gun lobby. Be there.

Mike Weisman,
1st Vice President
Illinois State Rifle Association

Plan to be in Springfield on Thursday, March 10!

The event begins at the Prairie Capital Convention Center at 8th St and Adams, the doors open at 10:30 am, and the event starts at 11:45 AM.  From there we march to the State Capitol (with transportation for those who can't walk that far, a little less than a mile) and rally on the Capitol Steps.

IGOLD Updates:

Ride easy! If you don't want to drive, a fleet of charter buses will be arriving in Springfield from all corners of the state.  On-line reservations are available!  New for 2011: Buses from Lombard and Woodstock!

Show your support!  New 2011 IGOLD Hats, T-shirts and Hoodies are available at IGOLD.isra.orgCheck out the special IGOLD raffle for the Loaded Black Stainless 1911 from Springfield Armory! 

Volunteers needed:  With a rally this large, IGOLD volunteers are essential to the success of the event. Have you been to IGOLD before?  Be a guide for those who are attending for the first time. If you have been a volunteer before, please volunteer again!  Find out more here.

IGOLD is sponsored by the Illinois State Rifle Association, dedicated to education, safety training and support of Illinois firearm owners. The ISRA is also partnering with IllinoisCarry.com, Guns Save Life and Sangamon County Rifle Association and other pro-Second Amendment organizations in Illinois to make our voices heard in Springfield.

ISRA needs your continued support.  McDonald v Chicago was not the end of the fight but the beginning. The ISRA is the front line in the battles for your firearm rights here in Illinois, such as securing your Right To Carry.