Richard Stephens holding the Jeff Cooper .45

Dear Concealed Weapons Permit Holder and South Carolina Gun Owner,

Does it bother you that our laws are such a tangle of blatant infringements to your Constitutional right to bear arms that it is hard at best for a good citizen to stay both safe and legal? It bothers us. Do you feel like we do, that laws ought to be easy to obey; that the criminals ought to be the ones forced to jump through hoops instead of good folks like yourself? We are fellow gun owners and CWP holders who have been Grassroots GunRights members for several years. We ask now for a few minutes of your time and let us tell you about an organization that is helping us as CWP holders, gun owners, and freedom loving South Carolinians. Let us tell you about an organization that "walks the walk" as well as "talks the talk", Grassroots GunRights.

Before joining Grassroots we obtained our CWP and soon discovered that all the restrictions placed on where we could be safe made our complying with the law very difficult at best. We were disappointed and dissatisfied with the way the law was to say the least. We wanted to do something about it, so we wrote letters to newspapers complaining. Some newspapers printed our letters. Others did not. We wrote to our elected officials, but at most received in return form letters saying they appreciated hearing from us, but seldom got any responses showing they agreed with us or even read our letters. We felt like small voices hopelessly shouting trying to make ourselves heard over the roar of a raging hurricane. Furthermore, we had no understanding of how government worked, much less how to make it work for us. We were closet activists, ones that wanted to make things right, but we felt powerless and insecure in our ability to convince those in power to do what we felt they should.

We, like many of you, also belonged (and still do) to several other national gun-rights organizations. Sometimes when we read numerous mailings we get from those other groups, we still feel their main interest is to solicit a donation. We also are disappointed in some of these groups' legislative strategy. They seem to be committed to a totally defensive strategy of delaying the anti-gun agenda of enacting more laws that restrict further our God-given rights. They call these stalling tactics of reducing the amount of rights we give up at each legislative session "COMPROMISE". We always thought compromise is each side giving up something and each side getting something in return, but we cannot recall the last time the anti-gun crowd ever gave up a thing, can you? We always called giving up something and getting nothing in return "SURRENDER". It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that, if the anti-gunners' scheme of chipping away at our freedom continues, they will eventually achieve their goal of banning private ownership of firearms. Do not get us wrong. We realize the national pro-gun groups do serve a useful purpose and do provide many worthwhile services nationally and that it takes money to make these programs possible. We are still members of these groups and plan to keep supporting them and urge you to do the same.

Then we joined Grassroots, a group unlike any other to which we belong. How is Grassroots different? Grassroots GunRights is an all-volunteer South Carolina organization concentrating its efforts on protecting and restoring rights of law-abiding South Carolinians. The leadership of GrassRoots is comprised of ordinary citizens who have concealed weapons permits and carry on a daily basis like you and we do, so they understand the problems we must cope with daily. Rather than dictate to members, GrassRoots' leadership actively solicits your opinions and advice, because they realize Grassroots' strength comes from our greatest resource, our members. Above all else, Grassroots understands how to get results in the Statehouse.

Grassroots leadership understands the legislative process and uses this understanding to plan effective strategies. Then, by providing the information, timing, tools and coordination to members, Grassroots enables the collective voice of the members to influence lawmakers. GrassRoots leadership has solid working relationships with many state legislators and their opinions are well respected by many in the Statehouse and SLED. With help from our friends in the Statehouse, our officers keep their finger on the pulse of the Senate and House to try to keep the Statehouse from sweeping their dirty little secrets under the rug. Did you know, for instance, that the last week in April the Senate Budget Committee decided to DOUBLE the fee for renewing and applying for a CWP? GrassRoots exposed this dirty secret and mobilized the membership to stop this tax on our right to self-defense.

Grassroots refuses to engage in a strategy of legislative compromise, hence our motto, "No Surrender - No Compromise". Grassroots officers understand the law and how seemingly unimportant words, phrases, lines and even entire bills might cause unforeseen problems for gun owners and CWP holders. GrassRoots improved the Range Protection Act by protecting all ranges and making sure range membership limits did not become a requirement. We eliminated junk from bills like a recent "homeland security" bill that would have made your military relics illegal if they were "capable of causing fear". GrassRoots is even at the Statehouse when other pro-gun organizations fail to show. During one legislative session GrassRoots was the only pro-gun organization available to speak in support of the elimination of the one handgun per thirty days rule. On 5/28/2002 Governor Hodges signed into law H.3010, a bill that includes many improvements in our CWP law that Grassroots proposed, fought for and actually had to overcome opposition from a major national and state "gun rights" organization.

Grassroots GunRights was the driving force behind H.3010, which improved South Carolina CWP law by eliminating some of the ridiculous arbitrary restrictions that anti-gun lawmakers succeeded in placing in the 1996 South Carolina CWP law regarding the following activities:

H.3010 also eliminated the one-year residency requirement for new CWP applicants and reduced the three 1"X1" photos required for renewals and applications down to one reasonable size photo.

During the early legislative process to enact these reforms, our friends in the legislature were telling Grassroots that the NRA and their State organization privately opposed our reforms. Publicly the NRA would state to their own members and Grassroots that they were neutral on our proposals and that they did not feel the reforms had any chance of passing. However, they steadfastly refused to issue a written statement declaring their neutrality much less publicly support positive CWP reforms. Enough was enough! Finally out of frustration, Grassroots sponsored a blitz to let the NRA leadership know how their South Carolina NRA members and SC CWP holders felt. Grassroots and NRA joint members expressed our displeasure with NRA leadership by phoning, emailing, and sending letters to NRA headquarters demanding that they stop working against us behind the scenes. After much pressure, the NRA finally issued a written statement declaring their neutrality on our reforms. Regardless that NRA leadership should have been 110% behind these reforms, we were at least glad to have a written statement to show legislators that the NRA leadership did not oppose CWP reform.

Grassroots also provides a wealth of helpful services to members and to the community at large. Grassroots maintains that contains listings of CWP instructors throughout the state. GrassRoots also uses the website and its quarterly newsletter to publish a list of businesses that do not welcome licensed CWP holders if they are carrying a concealed weapon. We find this useful, because we generally do not shop where a merchant requires us to be at the mercy of any criminal's whim. How many times have you gone shopping while carrying your weapon, parked your car and walked up to a business's door only to find it posted against CWP? Grassroots also has a Merchant Contact Program, the purpose of which is to help members convince businesses to remove those pesky "No CWP" signs. To date, we have gotten dozens of businesses to unpost.

Grassroots provides many tools to inform members of breaking news and to coordinate members into one loud coherent unified voice that legislators not only hear, but also heed. On the website there are pre-written letters you can copy and mail yourself or use the automatic e-mailer to send a nice letter to your Senators and Representatives without even having to be an eloquent writer. The SCFirearms website also contains a virtual wealth of other useful links and information. Grassroots has in place an e-mail alert network used to inform, coordinate and mobilize our members. We also use conventional mailings to spread the word and to provide pre-written postcards for members to send their Senators and Representatives about important issues.

Why should you join Grassroots now? We need you to join us, because there is strength in numbers. A newly sprouted single blade of grass is weak and vulnerable. It takes little effort to pluck it out of the ground or step on it and destroy it. If that one solitary grass blade joins with another, soon their roots start intertwining and they become stronger. When they join with even more blades and their roots grow even more, a transformation eventually happens. This bunch of solitary individual blades, by virtue of each one's associations with their neighbors, turns into a hardy patch of sod that is so strong it cannot be uprooted nor can a trampling of feet harm it. There is a name for this multiplying effect. It is called synergism, which means that when some things get together they become much stronger than the sum of all their individual strengths. One of the things that this phenomenon applies to is people, especially in regards to making government listen and act. There are almost 40,000 people in South Carolina with Concealed Weapons Permits. Out of those 40,000 only 4400 are Grassroots members. I have told you what our 4400 members have accomplished. GrassRoots has already enacted legislation that would've taken other national pro-gun organizations many, many more years to do, that is if they ever decided to take the offense instead of taking a strictly defensive tact. If Grassroots were 10,000 or 20,000 or even 30,000 strong, can you imagine what we can accomplish? Even after winning the battle for the reforms in H.3010, we still have a long way to go to restore the rights upon which the anti-rights politicians have infringed.

Grassroots GunRights has enabled us to become full-fledged activists, ones that have seen the fruits of our efforts. The fact that you have gone through the trouble to get a CWP tells us you are not the kind of person that is satisfied with allowing others to shape your destiny and control your fate. Accept our invitation to let us help you become an activist. Join Grassroots and you will shortly find you can make a difference, too. It is not that hard to do and the rewards are great. Keeping informed, writing letters, talking to public officials and other members, making phone calls, sending faxes, using automatic e-mailers isn't too much to do for the possible benefits, is it?

Years from now we want to look our grandchildren and great-grandchildren in the eyes and be able to truthfully say, "I took a stand for our rights, our safety, our Constitution. I helped preserve our nation and our state by restoring our God-given rights. I made a real difference." If you do too, then join us today!

Richard Stephens, Florence

Brian Mitchell, Irmo, SC; Howard Jones, Walterboro, SC; William Crocker, Aiken, SC; Neal & Melissa Seaman, Conway, SC; Ed Teagle, Sunset, SC; Chris Varnadoe, Lexington, SC; Mike Walguarnery, Columbia, SC; Rob Butler, Lexington, SC; Ed Kelleher, West Columbia, SC; Joe Lolli, Edisto Island, SC; Frank Headley, Columbia, SC; Bob Merritt, Lexington, SC; Jeff Greenlaw, Anderson, SC; Doug Gore, Denmark, SC; Stephen Thomas, Aynor, SC; Kevin Hood, Hilton Head, SC; Vince Ott, Charleston, SC; Eldridge Davis, Sumter, SC; Greg Kenneally, Columbia, SC; Todd Warnock, Camden, SC; Patrick Nolan, Columbia, SC; Rhonda and Larry Fulmer, Newberry, SC; Cherry Gentry, Chesnee, SC; Weldon Clark, Liberty, SC; John Ponti, Sumter, SC; Larry Coble, Pine Ridge, SC; Dianne Sawyer, Lexington, SC; Larry Salley, Salley, SC; Jim Hall, Columbia, SC; John Brown, Moore, SC; Jason Dickey, Chapin, SC; Walter H. Wease, Jr., P.E., Mt. Pleasant, SC; James W. Holden, Piedmont, SC; Nigel Burkhardt, Columbia, SC; Robert Martin, Union County, SC; Terry G. Downey, Camden, SC; Don Young, Beaufort, SC; Dick Clifford, North Charleston, SC; Charles A. Thompson, Jackson, SC; Keith Holsenback, Aiken, SC; Denny Williams, Laurens, SC; John M. Sutton, North Augusta, SC; H.G. Ellenburg, Liberty, SC; Robert A. Madson, McClellanville, SC; Robert W. McMahon, Holly Hill, SC; Bill Griffin, South Congaree, SC; Sam & Lois Wheless, Bradley, SC; Terry L. Hicks, Swansea, SC; Bob Mathewes, Mt. Pleasant, SC; Malcolm D. Davis, Lexington, SC; David Taylor, Huger, SC; R.B. Scarborough, Conway, SC; Robert Linch, Dacusville, SC; Kevin P. Murphy, Summerville, SC; F. M. Perry III, Greenville, SC; Joe Simpler, Simpsonville, SC; Rick & Cathy Miller, Lugoff, SC; Bill Walsh, Simpsonville, SC; Guy Beasley, Ladson, SC; Bill Kusy, Lexington, SC; Mark W. McClure, Greenville, SC; Russ Jernigan, Lexington, SC; Thomas E. Royal, Pelzer, SC; Mickey Porter, West Columbia, SC; Ben "Rusty" Atkinson II, Eutawville, SC; Joe Anderson, James Island, SC; Paul Thomas, Breakfield, SC; John Link, Jr., Spartanburg, SC; Robert L. Wilson, S.Congaree, SC; Ollie & Wanda Smith, St. Matthews, SC; Donnie E. Finley, Liberty, SC; James Parker, Charleston, SC; Joe Laferrera, Bluffton, SC; Lee Herron, N. Augusta, SC; Charles Hartsell, Florence, SC; Dennis Cash, Spartanburg, SC; Timothy Sean Stogner Sr., Pelion, SC; Richard Chandler, Belton, SC; Harrell E. Morlan, Moncks Corner, SC; Rock Wiles, Lugoff, SC; Timothy Stogner, Pelion, SC; Jesse Sammons; Bill Rentiers, Lexington, SC; Jason Rucker, Goose Creek, SC; Jerry C. Alford & Frances H. Alford; Benny Freeman, Chesterfield, SC; Donald E. Adams, Jefferson, SC; Rich Payne, California; Wade Rush, Camden, SC; Tom Torgersen, Little River, SC; Dave Malara; Dean Wolf; Roy Sanders, Spartanburg, SC; John R. Rodgers, Jr.; Leslie E Richburg; Akers Oglesby, Lyman, SC; Dr. Byron & Debra Jones, Greenwood, SC; Urik G. Ghazalian; Danny Storey; Charles Kelly, Lexington, SC; Russell Dowling, Spartanburg, SC; Robert Weaver, Lamar, SC; Ronald J. Kramer, Ladson, SC; William Kennedy; Weston Malone, Belton, SC; David L. Young, Easley, SC; Conrad R. Benton, Beaufort, SC; Richard Adams, Greenville, SC; Karen Cartwright; Marshall H. Connor, Columbia, SC; Cynthia & Roy Ben Harman, Jr., Lexington, SC; Larry R. Phipps; M. Kevin Mewborn, Irmo, SC; Norman J. Polite, Ridgeville, SC; Edward Ragsdale, Travelers Rest, SC; Michael R. Sawyer, Aiken, SC; Calvin & Susan Rose, Lugoff, SC; Phil and Wanda Carr, Little River, SC; Bob Snider, Salem SC; Darren McDaniel, Lexington SC; Steve Dawson, Madison Heights, VA; Oscar Betournay, Elgin, SC; Glenn Holland, Fountain Inn, SC; Eric Clark, Darlington, SC; Christopher Aiken, Laurens, SC; Jim Ritter, Honea Path, SC; Robert Sill, Roebuck, SC; Jim Jones, Swansea, SC; Claire Atkinson, Clover, SC; Dennis Pensmith; Robert Whisenant, Leesville, SC; Charles T. Simon, Greenville, SC; Calvin A. Sheridan, Easley, S.C; Ted Mayo, Barnwell, SC; Ed and Donnie Barnes, Moore, SC; Wharton H. Dantzler, North Augusta, SC; Joe M. Brown, Manning, SC; Richard Wooten, Goose Creek, SC; Jeff Henderson, Leesville, SC; Chad E. Carlton, Spartanburg, SC; Jay Lose, James Island, SC; Sam Sullivan, Piedmont, SC; Kevin Wells, Liberty, SC; Robert Guyton, Conway, SC.

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