The founding of liberal gun owners
"This founding story is important because it defines the reason and primary motivation for the organization itself. Liberal Gun Owners will never be defined by the full range of interpretations that exist in the minds of any and all prospective or active members. at the foundation, Liberal Gun Owners is about loving guns and sharing in that love. LGO is not a staging ground for revolutions. It is not a platform for people loaded with political motivations. It is about finding fair-minded friends and talking to them about the enjoyment of guns. That is what was intended by the founder. That notion, now and forever, will remain the primary mission for Liberal Gun Owners."
The story of Liberal Gun Owners begins in the late 1980's in the bucolic countryside of Northern Minnesota. LGO's founder, Adam, was raised inside of a prolific hunting family. Each and every fall season his family would gather over that year's quarry to harvest their venison as a celebration of family and of life. Founder Adam was raised with firearms in the traditional manner. Rifles were embraced as tools that allowed a person to both share traditions amongst loved-ones and also, in ways, provide for itself.
Adam's grandfather possessed a robust love for the outdoors, which nudged a traditional link with rifles into a full-fledged passion for firearms. Grandpa Dave, as he was known, created and operated a lake resort on Central Minnesota's Lake Scandinavian. The resort was composed of a campground, a firing range, boat docks, boat rentals, gas pumps, and a general store. The store also housed a bait shop and a gun shop.
Adam spent the majority of his early years inside of Grandpa Dave's gun shop. Whenever Adam's parents would visit the resort, his grandfather would immediately hustle him back to the gun shop to share in his newest acquisition. Grandpa Dave would meticulously review the fineries of his firearms with his grandson, and if the firearm wasn't brand new, they would go to the shooting range to fire it. From an early age, Adam assisted his grandfather's full range of activities in the shop, even trying his hand at selling guns to the local patrons.
Grandpa Dave was the kind of man who treated everyone equally. As long as the patrons had an adequate sense of humor, the friendships happened fast. Grandpa Dave's reputation earned him the nickname, “Friendly Dave”. He was well known and well respected. For a very long time, the relationship between Adam and his Grandfather, and their shared relationship to the gun shop was a life-affirming treasure.
Unfortunately, time and age eventually took "Friendly Dave" into a turn. As the years went by, his mind became increasingly fixated on the extremes of right-wing gun politics. Grandpa Dave became more and more susceptible to the shadow aspect of the NRA and its creation of cultural propaganda. At the time, unbeknownst to Adam and his family, Grandpa Dave was slipping into the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. His vulnerable and confused mental states made him susceptible to the negativity now interwoven into modern gun culture. In Adam's view, Grandpa Dave's Alzheimer's also contributed to an excessive consumption of conservative media and highly charged political content from the NRA.
The National Rifle Association's evolution from a principled firearms group, to a compromised mouthpiece for the fused political strategies of the firearms industry and conservative power structures, served as a key wedge in a relationship that had once been vital to both grandfather and grandson. It left Adam holding his immense passion for firearms, a passion facilitated by his lifelong relationship with his grandfather, in almost complete solitude. While the rest of his family had a relationship with firearms through the tradition of hunting, no one shared the level of passion that Adam had shared with Grandpa Dave.
As a still young man, and a bit shy, LGO's founder made many efforts to connect with local friends, whom he thought might serve as new allies in his passion for guns. His gun-heart somewhat broken from the changes in his grandfather, Adam made enthusiastic efforts to reach out. Unfortunately, these early efforts turned out to be painful wastes of time. You see, the rural areas of Northern Minnesota are much like most other rural areas. The denizens of these places are mostly conservative in their viewpoints - and along with that conservatism, comes its shadow. A shadow that liberal gun owners know all too well - the shadow of bigotry, immaturity, and absolutism. It was a problem for the young gun owner because he was a liberal.
After picking himself up, and dusting himself off, the young Adam recommitted to the search of finding like-minded gun owners. Adam felt that the era of social media, the era of the internet, provided better odds for the attainment of his goal. He needed a place to seek out and convene with the people that he believed were nestled somewhere in the nooks and crannies of the online gun culture. Adam attempted to contribute and spend time with established gun groups on Facebook. He was, again, met with ignorance and vitriol.
Disgusted, frustrated, feeling outmatched, armed with nothing more than his own passion and the belief that there were other gun owners like himself, at the age of 21, Founder Adam logged onto Facebook and created Liberal Gun Owners. It was mid-day, on August 27, 2007.
In the 10 years that have followed, Adam and the true stewards of Liberal Gun Owners have labored and sacrificed over the dynamics and the culture of the group. There have been times when the population of LGO was so intolerable that self-respecting members struggled to maintain their interest. There have been times where it seemed that the group was going to forever remain an unending stream of insanity and immaturity. There were times when LGO was an insufferable plane of boredom. Liberal Gun Owners was spammed, trolled, and made the backdrop for many propaganda efforts. Selfish efforts from both the right and the left have, in the past, made Liberal Gun Owners a laughable affair.
During a stretch in LGO's history, with Adam exhausted of effort, and membership uninspired to contribute, Liberal Gun Owners was within days of being archived. In a last-ditch effort, Adam contacted a former member who had once shown great enthusiasm and asked this person if he had any interest in taking the position of Administrator. Inside of Adam's request was the hope that one more attempt, with a different source of enthusiasm, might help the group to stay afloat. Amongst LGO's inner circle, this 2nd Administrator is warmly referred to as, "The Savior."
This fateful decision proved to be the most important decision in the history of the Liberal Gun Owners. Shortly after the last ditch effort to involve The Savior, a few more members were brought into LGO's administrative core. With Adam in recovery mode, this team of three stewards stepped into the breech. They were armed with the same belief in LGO, the same passion for firearms, and the same belief in finding true members. They were also armed with a little more age and experience. The new stewards took hold of the reins and policed the tar out of Liberal Gun Owners. The trash was taken out. New trash was stopped at the door. Finally, LGO was given its first measure of personality and its first dose of enough space to grow into something legitimate.
Day by day, the culture became healthier. Person by person, LGO gained and earned mature, respectable members. The word spread. Liberals who love guns found LGO. They found LGO in a proper, strong, working order. They stayed. The fruits of almost a decade's worth of effort were upon the group.
Subsequently, as fate or luck would have it, something great transpired. It was something terrible for the country, but great for Liberal Gun Owners. The 2016 Presidential Elections pushed LGO over a critical threshold. The membership surged as a reaction to our current political climate. Both long-standing liberal gun owners and liberals new to firearms pursued community with increased vigor. This combination of LGO's hard-earned strength and the new surge in membership finally delivered a critical mass of forthright members. Liberal Gun Owners not only became an enjoyable experience for its members, it also began its full-time service of acting as a quality harbor for the new or ostracized liberal gun enthusiast. In 2017, after 10 years of effort, Liberal Gun Owners reached its potential. It finally, and somewhat quietly, fulfilled the vision of a young kid from Minnesota, who was naive enough to believe that other good people, other liberals, might be out there for him to engage in passionate gun discussion.
This founding story is important because it defines the reason and primary motivation for the organization itself. Liberal Gun Owners will never be defined by the full range of interpretations that exist in the minds of any and all prospective or active members. At the foundation, Liberal Gun Owners is about loving guns and sharing in that love. LGO is not a staging ground for revolutions. It is not a platform for people loaded with political motivations. It is about finding fair-minded friends and talking to them about the enjoyment of guns. That is what was intended by the founder. That notion, now and forever, will remain the primary mission for Liberal Gun Owners.
Of course, now that the initial vision has been fulfilled, Liberal Gun Owners envisions more - so much more. Can we hold to our primary purpose and now, appropriately, enter into other aspects of gun culture? Yes. We can and we will. But we will not become some garbage dump of typical political tripe, and firearms industry dogma.
We are liberals. We love guns.