One of our really good friends in GVP-land sent around a message the other day alerting us to the fact that the Amazon Smile website has become a location for organizations which raise money to help promote guns. And in this case the organization that was using the crowd-sourcing fundraising venue of Amazon was a group called Gun Owners of America (GOA), which is a particularly aggressive outfit that claims to be the strongest supporter of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ anywhere in the land.
To understand GOA, you have to know something about its founder and now Chairman Emeritus, Larry Pratt. When all is said and done, GOA is a fundraising organization with an email list which probably includes just about every hard-core, radical-right, militia member in the United States. You can join the group for $20, which makes their claims of having one million members absurd since their annual revenues on 2014 were less than two million bucks.
What gets Pratt and his group headlines isn’t the so-called lobbying efforts they claim to make, but the fact that they describe themselves as being an anti-establishment organization, in this case the establishment being the NRA. And if we’ve learned anything from Donald Trump, it’s that the moment you say you’re ‘against’ the establishment, even if you’re obsessively trying to become the establishment, you’ll get some support and pick up a few bucks.
But I want to get back to the question of how GVP could use Amazon Smile, because when all is said and done, Larry Pratt and GOA are really small potatoes, in the world of gun politics they just represent the chump change. On the other hand, Amazon isn’t chump change at all. In 2015 they had overall revenues of $100 billion, and revenues for Q4 of 2016 were $47 billion alone. Revenues for Q1 2017 ‘dipped’ to only $35 billion – my revenues should be so low. The point is that Amazon has become a cash-generating machine (nine years ago their annual revenue was ‘only’ $9 billion bucks) and I don’t see why GVP shouldn’t try to get in on this flood of dollars as best they can.
Take me, for example. In the past 6 months I have done 36 Amazon orders that total about $670 bucks, I’m a member of Amazon Prime because otherwise the shipping would really add up. And in addition to the emails which I receive every time I buy a book, a CD, a DVD or a gift card for family and friends, I also get at least one email every day telling me about the latest and greatest that I should immediately buy.
Am I a big Amazon buyer with purchases which average about $100 a month? I don’t really know, but I do know this: I never heard of Amazon Smile until I received the email last week from a good friend in GVP. And I immediately went to the Smile website and chose her organization as the one I’m going to support. And I did it first of all because she took the trouble to let me know about Smile and it’s a simple, seamless and no-nonsense way to send a few bucks to the right place.
I didn’t do a very exhaustive search but I quickly found a number of GVP organizations who are listed on the Smile site. But the fact that someone who is as hooked into GVP as I am didn‘t know about Smile until last week makes me believe that I’m hardly the only GVP activist who didn’t know that this GVP crowd-sourcing fundraising vehicle exists. How many GVP-related emails do I receive from GVP-world each day?
So come on, GVP. Let’s get with the program. Every GVP group should be soliciting donations through Amazon, every group should be reminding its friends and members to open a Smile account every time. And now that I’m sending some money to an important GVP group every time I buy a record, a movie or a book, I suspect I’ll probably buy more products from Amazon just because it’s a good thing to do.
[Thanks Rob Valente.]
HEY – June 2 – Wear Orange!