Grassroots Gunrights: The Smoking Gun - Page 4
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Thread: Grassroots Gunrights: The Smoking Gun

  1. Latest Stuffed Suits article:

    "Why I took action--An Open Letter"
    by Ed Looney
    I have been thinking about posting the reason I took action with Grass Roots Gun Rights for a few weeks now. I am aware that some members of the organization know my reasons but I am sure there are many others who do not.

    I am not writing this letter to lobby for consensus. I don’t require the approval of others to act on my values. In this case, the core value is obeying the law. Whether a person agrees with my actions or not, I believe the members and friends of Grass Roots Gun Rights deserve an explanation for why I decided to take action.

    I joined Grass Roots Gun Rights because I wanted to be involved in protecting our gun rights. After joining, I heard Rob Butler say they needed volunteers to help because he was working very hard but could not do it all. So I went down to Columbia and took Rob’s Class on Confrontational Politics and started working.

    One of the first things I noticed was the existence of a separate Political Action Committee. I noticed this PAC did not (and still does not) have a web site to help get the word out. The PAC also lacked the means to accept donations by debit or credit card that would help raise money. I did some research and found that any PAC worth a plug nickel has a web page describing the reason they exist and asking for support.

    It became clear to me that if having a website did not help raise awareness and money all these other PACs would not have them. With that in mind I called Rob Butler and offered to pay the first year's fees for a website--including the ability to collect credit cards-- in order to get things going. The only thing I was missing was someone who had the ability to develop a web site and would volunteer to create it.

    Rob was good enough to announce my offer because I was putting my money where my mouth was but then he turned around and said it would not work. His statement puzzled me: why would anyone volunteer to help create a web page after the VP publicly announced it would not work? Not so surprisingly, no one volunteered to help. That was the first lost opportunity.

    I am somewhat involved in local politics and got to know my state representative and state senator. After speaking with these men on gun issues it was agreed to have a meeting in my home to work on sponsoring a pro-gun bill. I thought it was great to have two legislators offering to sponsor pro gun legislation. Better yet, they wanted Grass Roots involvement right from the beginning.

    I contacted Rob Butler and explained the offer and invited him to my home at a future date to be determined. At first he appeared to be open to the idea and we began discussing what legislation to push. I then extended the invitation to include Bill Rentiers. I was very surprised when Rob told me flat out that he did not want Bill to attend. The excuse he gave was that he cold not control Bill or his input. That statement was the first big warning regarding Rob's ability to lead if he demanded such absolute control of every situation.

    I am a huge fan of a parking lot bill that expands our ability to be armed while we travel in our vehicles. I wanted that to be the legislation to be sponsored. After talking to Rob, I found him to be reluctant to actually sponsor that legislation even though the Grass Roots organization had already publicly stated it supports such a bill. I later found out Rob apparently did not support that type of bill at the time because he did not want a coordinator who manages gun show events to resign from Grass Roots. It seems the coordinator was adamantly opposed to parking lot legislation.

    Grass Roots openly states they support a parking lot bill but then the leadership can’t support it due to office politics? That was the second big warning for me. This time Rob's inaction struck directly against core values. To my way of thinking, you are either for something or you are not. You certainly shouldn't sit on the fence in this situation and play power politics with our unalienable right to defend ourselves.

    I made two attempts to have a meeting regarding the legislation but could not get Rob to give me a date even though he claimed he wanted to. Needless to say, there still has been no meeting to sponsor any pro-gun legislation even though the two legislators are even now willing to sponsor gun rights legislation.

    How does it reflect on Grass Roots when legislators offer to help sponsor legislation but Grass Roots will not give them pro-gun legislation to sponsor? To my mind, those were lost opportunities for legislation that would benefit gun owners.

    Following the first and second attempts at a meeting, I wanted to find out how Grass Roots was organized. I sent an email to the leadership asking for a copy of the bylaws. I never received a reply to that request. I was simply ignored.

    As I got to know more members of Grass Roots through my volunteering to work the tables at gun shows and through emails I began to hear that others were also asking questions about how Grass Roots was organized and managed. I found out that I was not the only one to ask for copies of the bylaws. Others who asked for copies did not receive them either. That was the third big warning for me.

    It seemed very strange to me that we have many dues-paying members seeking to be involved in Grass Roots but the leadership was locking them out. Why?

    I and others then began to look into the legal requirements of non-profit corporations like Grass Roots. Our motives were, and still are, to open the organization up so that more members can be actively involved. We also want to promote the recruiting of more active members. That goal led to questions concerning the control of the organization.

    According to recent legal counsel, it looks as if members of Grass Roots are legally entitled to copies of the bylaws and the refusal to provide them upon request brings about questions of legal compliance and fiduciary duty. There is a legal requirement of fiduciary duty and that standard cannot exist if the Board of Directors is not accountable to the members by following the bylaws. The bylaws require elections. Board members are also required to obey state laws governing the operation of the corporation to maintain the legal standard of their fiduciary duty.

    Fiduciary is duty defined in link below:

    Breach of Fiduciary Duty Law & Legal Definition

    To our dismay it appears that Grass Roots may not be in compliance with South Carolina law. State law requires annual meetings and annual elections.

    (An actual violation of the law is to be determined in a court of law. I am only speaking of what it appears to be. Please form your own opinion.)

    To my knowledge neither an election nor a members' meeting has taken place in over ten years. That appears to establish a pattern. It also looks as if the leadership was aware of those legal requirements. (An email was presented in court as evidence indicating the leadership knew of the legal requirement and the fact that they chose not to comply.)

    As a dues paying member, I wrote a letter to Grass Roots board member, Ed Kelleher citing South Carolina Law and asking for those things the law said I was entitled to have which included the membership list. I then presented the letter to our group of concerned members for their approval. The group approved and the letter was sent.

    We did this to set in motion an election of the Board of Directors. For the membership to produce an election the members must be contacted. Without a membership list contacting them would be impossible. We have no evil intent and we are definitely not anti-gun which we've been accused of. We just want an open election by the membership.

    Why would we want to bring about an election?

    1. It would make the Board of Directors legitimate for the first time in over 10 years.

    2. It would make Grass Roots compliant with the law.

    3. It would give members across the state the opportunity to be involved.

    I believe the bylaws say we can have up to 15 Board Members and currently there are only three for the whole state. As it is now, there is little statewide involvement because the representation on the Board of Directors is limited to the Columbia area. Our group of concerned members wants to make the proposal that a minimum of 9 members be elected from across the state thus making Grass Roots a true statewide organization as was the original intent.

    If the leadership of Grass Roots had moved toward the required elections and membership meetings this issue would have never seen a court room. The leadership unfortunately refused to comply with our legal request and appears to be making a move to change the corporate structure so that those in total control can stay in total control. If they succeed, they would be locking the members out completely and the board would be accountable to no one but themselves. As the attorney in the court room said, Grass Roots would be turned into a "private club."

    Personally speaking, all I ever wanted was for Grass Roots to comply with the law and to allow the members to be involved in their organization. How can an organization that exists to influence how laws are written have any credibility if we establish a 10-year pattern of defiance the law? It would be a tragedy if our credibility in the South Carolina legislature were irrevocably harmed. I hope Grass Roots can recover its good name in time to avert that.

    --Ed Looney

    Stuffed Suits - Grassroots Gun Rights: The Full Story

  3. #32
    This letter from Ed confirms the opinions that I have gathered about the situtaion with Grass Roots Gun Rights in SC. I am saddened to see that it has arrived in court as this does little to help with the restoration of our right to bear arms in SC but it will hopefully be a positive in the long run. I think all of this just demonstates that the biggest problem that we as gun owners have in obtaining our rights is agreeing among ourselves what those rights are and how to go about it. As Pogo said, "We have met the enemy and it is us".

  4. We seem to have a power struggle that is helping nobody in the pro-gun world. Mr. Butler and company are control freaks, but they have done loads of good work for CWP holders in SC. Mr. Looney and company want control at the expense of the continuation of the good work being done. It is a shame that Mr. Looney can't start his own group and see if it is more well received that the current group. No need to destroy or cripple the work being done to gain control. If both groups survive, then we will have even more folks working on the behalf of CWP holders. Not a bad thing. Taking this to court is just wrong. That does not benefit anybody, except the anyi-gun folks. Just my 2 cents worth as an outside observer.

  5. #34
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Charleston, SC
    Quote Originally Posted by BigBoom View Post
    ...Mr. Butler and company are control freaks, but they have done loads of good work for CWP holders in SC. ...Taking this to court is just wrong. That does not benefit anybody, except the anyi-gun folks...
    Maybe. OTOH, if those in control of the existing entity are running a closed organization, not complying with state law, soliciting contributions and not responding when put on notice, a civil action may be the best, or only, alternative.
    The Founders Got It Right - Back To The Constitution
    NRA (Life) - GOA (Life) - NAGR - GOSC (Life) - GrassRoots GunRights SC

  6. #35
    BigBoom, I agree with some of what you are saying especially that Mr. Butler and company have done loads of good and this should never have had to wind up in court. As I am not a member and do not personally know any of the parties involved I can only go on what has publicly been stated and published. Some of those facts have shocked me to say the least. First is that there are only 2,500 members statewide. This is just a little more than 50 per county and for an organization that has done so much and been in the public eye so much this is almost unbelievable. Second is that there have been no meetings or elections held in 10 years. That certainly was not the impression that I got from the website.

    As for your comment about Mr. Butler and company being control freaks I cannot say but Mr. Butler sure gave that impression lately during the discussions and hearings surrounding H.3292 and his totally uncalled for attack on Rep. Viers. Rather than trying to work within the system for the betterment of everyone he seemed to make it his personal war and at times resorting to gross exaggerations of the facts. Mr. Butler has posted several times that he has been under a lot of stress lately and although he has done great things for the gun owners of SC in the past right now I feel that he should step back and allow some others to help him even if they do not do things exactly like he wants them done. I am afraid that if he keeps demanding that everyone allow him to be the spokesman for them without question the number he is speaking for will be much less than it is now.

  7. I want to point out that my statements were just opinions based on reading the postings on the yahoo group as well as this forum. I am also not a member and I don't know any of these people personally. I am not surprised by the small number of members. I did not join because of the inability of the members to get along with each other. That is why I think forming a new group is a better answer than going to court and making the anti-gunners happy. If Grassroots can't work it out they will cease to exist and the new group could fill the void. I am not necessarily saying that Mr. Looney and company should control a new organization. It seems that they have some control issues as well. I hope this is over soon. We need to present a united front to battle the enemies of our right to keep and bear arms.

  8. #37
    A united front would be sucessful and yes it is absolutely what we need. There are some issues that a united front could be arranged to battle the opponents but some issues cannot achieve a united front among gun owners. We need to separate the two and attack with those those where we are united. However to attack trying to get everything when there are too many conflicting opinions will only cause even more conflict and that is what is happening.

  9. I hope that the ultimate result is a group that I would like to join and lend my support to. I would love to see progress, but I understand that you can't get it all sometimes. I don't like the all or nothing approach that has been used at times. I absolutely disagree with dragging things through court. Nothing good can result from the legal wrangling. It will probably kill Grassroots and we will be left with nobody to fight for us at all.

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