Monday, April 20, 2020


The Washington Post reports:
A trio of far-right, pro-gun provocateurs is behind some of the largest Facebook groups calling for anti-quarantine protests around the country, offering the latest illustration that some seemingly organic demonstrations are being engineered by a network of conservative activists.

The Facebook groups target Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, and they appear to be the work of Ben Dorr, the political director of a group called “Minnesota Gun Rights,” and his siblings, Christopher and Aaron. By Sunday, the groups had roughly 200,000 members combined....

The Dorr brothers manage a slew of pro-gun groups across a wide range of states, from Iowa to Minnesota to New York, and seek primarily to discredit organizations like the National Rifle Association as being too compromising on gun safety. Minnesota Gun Rights, for instance, describes itself as the state’s “no-compromise gun rights organization.”
This is a better story than most of what I've read about the demonstrations. It acknowledges that the demonstrators aren't in sync with public opinion:
The online activity instigated by the brothers helps cement the impression that opposition to the restrictions is more widespread than polling suggests. Nearly 70 percent of Republicans said they supported a national stay-at-home order, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll. Ninety-five percent of Democrats backed such a measure in the survey.
The story describes a lot of recent activity by the brothers:
“Wisconsinites Against Excessive Quarantine” was created on Wednesday by Ben Dorr. His brother Christopher is the creator of “Pennsylvanians Against Excessive Quarantine,” as well as “Ohioans Against Excessive Quarantine.” A third brother, Aaron, is the creator of “New Yorkers Against Excessive Quarantine.”
There's some suggestion that they don't always operate according to the rules.
In certain cases, the Dorr brothers have bypassed rules requiring them to register as lobbyists by arguing that they are instead involved in “pro-gun grassroots mobilization,” as “Ohio Gun Owners,” whose board Chris Dorr directs, describes its work.

A now-retired state legislator in Iowa, who in 2017 sought to close a loophole allowing the brothers to skirt lobbying rules, said he was not surprised the Dorr brothers were involved in fomenting resistance to the public health precautions.

“The brothers will do anything to fan the flames of a controversial issue, and maybe make a quick nickel,” said the former state legislator, Republican Clel Baudler.
In fact, there are a lot of people out there who don't like the Dorr brothers -- and for the most part, the critics seem to be conservatives. Here's a site called Exposing the Dorr Brother Scams.
Welcome. If you have been directed to this site, it is most likely because you have worries about one or more of the many groups run by or associated with the Dorr Brothers (Aaron, Chris, Ben, and Matt).

We are happy you are here and hope you will learn the truth and that you will help us spread the word about this scheming group of fraudsters that are having a splendid time collecting your well-intended donations for their personal use while using confrontational politicking to harm and disparage some of our best legislators and some of the most effective lobbying and pro-gun, pro-life advocating groups around.
The main objection is that organizations set up by the Dorrs attack other pro-gun activists (as well as anti-abortion activists) for allegedly being too willing to compromise, and that they take credit for legislative victories that are the work of others. The Dorrs are also accused of being in it only for the money.

Here's a Facebook page called The Truth About Iowa Gun Owners & The Dorr Family Gun Scam.

Here's a site about the Dorrs called Minnesota Scammers Exposed. It was set up by the Minnesota Republican Party.

A 2019 Cleveland Plain Dealer story quotes pro-gun legislators attacking the Dorrs.
Iowa state Rep. Matt Windschitl, who shepherded through a 2017 bill that created a Stand Your Ground law and allowed Iowans to sue local governments for creating gun-free zones, said Iowa Gun Owners first opposed the bill — in the form of continuous fundraising emails to their members — but weren’t actively involved in talks. They then took credit for its passage, he said, prompting him to call out the group on the floor of the Iowa House as a “scam.”

“They are not motivated by a genuine appetite for advancement of Second Amendment virtues,” said Windschitl, a trained gunsmith. “They are there to stir the pot and make as much animosity as they can, and then raise money off that animosity.”

“I’m all for advocacy,” said Minnesota state Rep. Jim Nash, a leading pro-gun Republican in Minnesota. “But the best advocacy groups go in with the end goal in mind of the legislative outcome they want, not just their personal wealth increasing. And that one you can quote me on exactly.”
This appears to be a typical tactic: attacking Republican legislators who supported an extremely small compromise with Democrats.
... in the case of a proposed law change that would allow Ohioans to carry a concealed rifle, shotgun or handgun without a permit, [Chris] Dorr this year found himself in a lead role, negotiating changes on behalf of the bill’s sponsor.

... Committee Democrats, with the help of three Republican members, managed to temporarily change the bill so it preserved a current requirement that gun sellers provide buyers with a pamphlet summarizing Ohio gun laws. And the committee advanced the bill, recommending it for a vote by the full House.

Dorr loudly protested the change. ​Here’s how he described it in an online fundraising message: “Representative Kyle Koehler (R-Springfield) joined with 4 radical anti-gun Democrats and two turn-coat Republicans to ram through an amendment to HB178 that, until Ohio passes a Stand-Your-Ground law, could get innocent gun owners killed.”

His reasoning? The pamphlets would include a description of an Ohio law that requires someone to attempt to retreat before using lethal force.
All that for ... a pamphlet.

So the Dorrs stir up trouble, alienate would-be allies, raise a lot of money (the state of Minnesota revoked tax-exempt status for Minnesota Gun Rights in 2016), and just form and more organizations.

But now they've stumbled into mainstream acceptance. The establishment right likes what they're doing. President Trump, Fox News, and the plutocracy are on their side.

Will they start accusing other anti-shutdown forces of being weak compromisers? Or will they take the contributions and run? Hard to say.

But for the time being, the GOP mainstream clearly doesn't care whether the Dorrs are scammers. The top priority, now and always, is to keep the country divided and the libs owned. The Dorrs are useful for The Cause.

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