Million Moms Oust Colorado Coordinator
by Ari Armstrong, March 22, 2000
The so-called "Million Mom March" will be yet another mom short -- the organization reportedly dumped its state coordinator Kathleen Hopkins, who decided to cancel her airline ticket to Washington, D.C.
On March 21 Norm Resnick of the American Freedom Network at 1360 AM broke the story about an e-mail from Hopkins detailing the Bell Campaign's pressure to remove her as state coordinator for the Million Mom organization. Resnick's show airs weekday afternoons between 3:00 and 5:00. The Colorado Freedom Report obtained Hopkin's e-mail, which is reproduced below.
What is the Bell Campaign, and what is its relationship with the Million Moms? According to Hopkin's e-mail, the Colorado Million Moms funneled their donations to the Bell Campaign in order to take advantage of that group's 501(C)(3) status. Hopkins wrote, "The Bell Campaign has the power to fire a state coordinator ."
The Bell Campaign is a radical gun control group that wants the total registration of all handguns and the licensure of all gun owners, in addition to numerous laws restricting the sale, use, and storage of firearms.
The Bell Campaign's main web site is at http://bellcampaign.org/. The organization says, "Every private sale should be subject to the same background check as sales from licensed dealers." In other words, no longer would a father be able to transfer a gun to his son -- without making a call to the FBI first (http://bellcampaign.org/fact/industry.htm).
The Bell Campaign also favors rationing guns and ammunition. "Buyers can get unlimited amounts of guns and ammunition" under current law, the web page laments (http://bellcampaign.org/fact/consumer.htm). (Similarly, buyers can get unlimited amounts of newspapers and magazines under the First Amendment.) On the same page, the Bell Campaign calls for the complete ban of high capacity magazines and "military-style" guns -- even though the Second Amendment explicitly refers to a "well-regulated militia" composed of the citizenry -- and for the "licensing of gun owners or buyers" and the "registration of handguns."
The Bell Campaign -- which trumps the Million Mom event on its main page -- hardly fits the image of "moderation" the Million Mommers are trying to evoke in Colorado. How many times have we heard it? "Reasonable laws that keep guns out of the hands of criminals and children." Not even the limited restrictions discussed in the press are "reasonable" -- in fact there's good reason to think they'll decrease safety and increase criminal victimization. But the literature of the Bell Campaign makes it clear that currently proposed laws are only the beginning, incremental steps toward the complete ban of certain guns and the complete government control of others, where every gun owner will be tracked by the FBI and ATF, the same organizations that brought us Waco and Ruby Ridge.
According to Hopkin's e-mail, Amy Sodnicar is the new state coordinator for the Million Moms. Apparently, Hopkins was not sufficiently radical for those at the Bell Campaign. She expressed reservations about the licensing and registration of gun owners. She speculates she may also have been dumped because she consorted with members of the Women's Shooting Sports Foundation.
Several callers to Resnick's show expressed concern that the Million Mom organization -- as well as Sane Alternatives to the Firearms Epidemic, the name of which likens gun ownership to a disease -- may hold tax-exempt status under the 501(c)(3) law, which precludes political activity aimed at specific legislation. In her e-mail Hopkins claims the groups hold such legal status, even though the clear aim of both groups is to advocate the passage of specific laws.
Text of Hopkins' E-Mail
Sun, 19 Mar 00 21:15PM PST
I'm back from my trip, very tired (so let's hope I don't do something else horrid). I had intended to take down this reflector before I left but couldn't figure it out in the short time I had. I wanted to do that to avoid the controversy, but since I wasn't able to accomplish it's demise, I suppose I'll leave it up for awhile longer. The controversy is already there. Don't be concerned about these discussions falling into the hands of the Johnstown folks. They'll hear it soon anyway. I really, really do appreciate the support you've all shown. Perhaps those messages should be forwarded to Donna Dees-Thomases at firstname.lastname@example.org
I want to clarify some things.
1. The Bell campaign has the power to fire a state coordinator if the founder (Donna) and the MMM steering committee have given that power to them. Apparently, they have. They do not have that power, however, because of "controlling the money." The only reason we have been sending our donations to Bell for tax deductible processing is because they so very nicely offered to do this for us. We could have set up our own account. We could also have looked elsewhere for another 501 (c)(3) to "sponsor" us. So they can "fire" me as a national officer, but they cannot control what we do with the money donated in Colorado. At least they can't, if we stop sending the donations to them.
2. We are legally incorporated as a Colorado non-profit, authorized by the Colorado Secretary of State to do legal business in the state of Colorado. This was not set up by any one at national. My name and Amy Sodnicar's name are on the letter of incorporation. Obviously, neither of us have the majority vote. There is nothing that Bell or national MMM can do about this. They could, I suppose, sue us over the use of the name, but by the time such a lawsuit would come up, Mother's Day will be over, and we'll gladly quit using the name.
3. There is absolutely no reason that what is happening on the national level should in any way affect or ruin our march in Denver. It is so important to this state that we continue the march in conjunction with the SAFE Colorado petition drive. SAFE needs us. SAFE also has 501 (c)(3) status. Gee, I wonder if we can work a deal?
4. There are some critical things coming up next week. Some of you know that Peter Boyles and KHOW radio are planning on doing a major fundraiser for MMM. Peter's idea is to raise money to send a number of moms to Washington and then to also raise money for the local march. What none of you know is that KHOW had decided to buy airline tickets for 6-7 moms to start the fundraiser. I will have to talk to Peter tomorrow and tell him that I am no longer the state coordinator. He will ask why. I do not intend to push it, but I will also not lie. I think it's doubtful that Peter will want to do a fundraiser for something that has turned so divisive and questionable, and I doubt he will do a fundraiser for the Colo. march alone.
5. The press is going to be asking me. I am intending to say that Bell Campaign and I started to have problems when I began to raise questions about the change in the agenda of the march. All of us in the MMM organization signed on to this because it's a terrific idea that supports moderate and common-sense gun legislation. The Bell Campaign, Handgun Control and the MMM steering committee have changed the agenda by dropping all of the planks in the mission statement except the one item: licensing and registering guns. I have gone to the Bell website to see what they mean by these items. I do not personally agree that the intent of this proposal is moderate or "common sense." I cannot go to Washington to support this agenda. When it was only one of the 5 planks, I could live with it. But I cannot support this one item alone. Besides, it is the one item which is certainly doomed to fail.
I also think it would be a wonderful thing is the Women's Shooting Sports Foundation joined our march in support of moderate legislation. I think it is foolish to NOT include any and all moderate gun owner groups. I believe that the reason I was fired is because of my belief that the WSSF is a good group that will help us achieve our goals. I do not believe I was fired over my stupid mistake in sending out that list. That is the reason Bell will give, but Kimberly Rowland first asked me to resign--not because of giving out the list, but because I had criticized Bell and "upset some of the members." That was the reason given to ask for my resignation. When I didn't resign, she brought out the "big guns" and fired me. By the way, what I did say that was critical was not said publicly. It was said privately only to members of the steering committee.
6. Sen. Pat Pascoe will be introducing her resolution asking for support of the march. I was supposed to be there, but now I can't let her introduce me as the state coordinator. When she is told that I've been "fired," I don't know if she'll want to proceed. She has already warned me that the resolution probably won't pass. I can only suppose the chances will be even less when the senators get word of "trouble in the ranks." It might even become an issue of "can't these women get their act together?"7. Pat Kramer is the head of the local march. There is absolutely nothing that Bell or anyone else can do to change that. I intend to help Pat with the local march. I would encourage the Colorado MMM to not change the original mission statement, but to keep it intact with all 5 planks (including the 1 handgun per month.). This is a grass-roots campaign. It does not have a "governing body" that can in any way control what a state decides to do--or what a state does with the money raised. We have signed no contracts. We are not bound by any legal agreement. We are legally incorporated in Colorado. No one on the national level can dictate what Colorado chooses to do. All they can do is keep me from being recognized as a national figure (and enjoy that recognition in Washington). I suggest that we "get our act together" in Colorado and not worry about the national march.
8. This makes life a lot easier for me. I had been unhappy about not being able to be in Colorado anyway, but since I (was) the state coordinator, I felt a duty to be in Washington. I am going to cancel my airline ticket. Someone else can enjoy the prestige of being in Washington. I'd a heck of a lot rather stay here in Denver.
9. I would recommend that the Colo. MMM steering committee meet (sans myself) and decide what you want to do about the donations, etc. I would raise a concern that Bell might decide we can't spend the money the way we want. I really hope you decide to keep the same mission statement we started with. Narrowing it to the one item will mean instant failure, particularly in Colorado. Since Amy is now the state coordinator, I think it appropriate to choose another press secretary. Perhaps Cynthia Stone from SAFE could help. Or Pam, the free-lance reporter at the last meeting. I suggest we set up our own bank account and approach SAFE with using their 501 status. SAFE is not a national organization and cannot be controlled by any national group. SAFE also thinks it's good to talk to people on the other side, or they wouldn't have sponsored the meeting between Jim Brady (Handgun Control) and the NRA.
10. This is a very foolish thing that has happened. It cannot help but hurt us due to things like the Peter Boyles fundraising. Let's try to keep it from destroying the Colorado march. I will do my best with the press, but I can't promise anything. I will say that I don't believe my "firing" had anything to do with giving out that list--because that's what I truly believe. I WILL say what I do think it has to do with, because I'm just not a good politician, and I have trouble lying. I did not intentionally put myself in this situation, so I hope you will all understand that I can only do the best I can do. Cross your fingers. My intention is to do no harm to the Colorado march and our purpose in banding with SAFE Colorado on the ballot initiatives.
I also don't believe that any local members of the Bell Campaign had anything to do with this "firing." I believe it is an action at the national level because of the fear of "gun people" being involved. I don't believe it had anything to do with the list. I believe it is entirely about the WSSF and the fact that I raised questions about the change in the agenda.