Polls show you are losing a coming plebiscite vote favoring gun control by a margin of three to one. The major networks are against you. The federal government is against you. Members of the clergy are against you. You do not have any funding or press. You have nine months ahead of you. What do you do?
That was the question Col. Jairo Paes de Lira, a Brazilian gun rights leader faced in early 2004. His answer was to get people to put aside differences and work together. His Coalition for Legitimate Self-Defense used the Internet, word of mouth, and community newspapers to rally popular support. They utilized free government-mandated television time to craft ads convincing people of the need for self-defense.
The inspiring story of how this national referendum totally banning the sale of guns and ammunition was turned into a two-to-one victory for gun rights was the subject of June 28 talk at the TFP Washington Bureau in McLean, Virginia . About 40 members, friends and supporters attended the presentation and reception.
“October 2005 was a landmark vote for all Brazilians. It was a signpost of the nation’s political maturity,” Col. Paes de Lira commented. The international left had been monitoring with great expectations since a Yes vote would have been celebrated as a victory for gun control not only in Brazil but worldwide. The left’s hopes were dashed by a No vote that won in nearly every Brazilian state.
Since the plebiscite, the retired military police commander with 35 years of experience in law enforcement has been spreading the word that when people stand up for their rights and organize, they can accomplish their goals. He spoke at the recent 2006 annual meeting of the National Rifle Association in Milwaukee. He also testified at the United Nation’s “Small Arms” Conference.
At the TFP Bureau meeting, Col. Paes de Lira received a special medal from Mr. John Michael Snyder of the St. Gabriel Possenti Society, a Catholic pro-self-defense organization. The medal features a profile of St. Gabriel Possenti with the recipients’ name and date on the back and honors those who have rendered outstanding service to the cause of gun rights.
The evening also featured a summary of the American TFP’s activities against The Da Vinci Code by America Needs Fatima director Robert E. Ritchie. The evening ended with the always-lively conversation and refreshments that have long characterize the Bureau’s talks.