A Conversation with Tracey Wilson VP of PR for the CCFR – Part 2.
Words by: Wally F. Photos by: Shaun Arntsen, Tracey Wilson, and CCFR
……….Here’s is part two of my multi-part interview series with Tracey Wilson the Public Relations VP for the Canadian Coliation for Firearms Rights or the CCFR. Tracey and I talk about women in shooting sports, advocacy in Ottawa, and their new television show launching on Wild TV this fall.
Wally F.: What’s your opinion on women in shooting sports? How has it changed from when you were younger compared to how it’s like now?
Tracey Wilson: It’s completely different right, like when I was young woman when I started shooting it was, you know, boyfriend lesson, and he would lend me a 12 gauge and head out to the back forty and show me what to do. You know [there’s] just no empowerment, there was no, I don’t know it was kind of a guy thing and now you look out [there] and we’ve got women that are competing, we’ve got women going to the Olympics it’s incredible how much this community has grown, and for me, it’s especially important to continue to have women involved. You know with women, come the children, I know I bring my grandson to the range, he’s almost 5 I’ve had him out to the range a couple times and bring my daughter out to the range, and its like it used to be that guys would have the guy’s day with their buddies and they take off and head to the range and you know it wasn’t really so much a girl’s activity, but now that’s changed and the reason that’s changed is because the shooting sports is the one sport where literally everybody [is] on an even playing field, you know it doesn’t matter what age you are, it doesn’t matter what gender you are doesn’t even matter what size you are.
TW: Everybody can participate in the shooting sports, even people with disabilities or physical difficulties, you know everybody can participate and I think that’s unique to our sport because, I know if I want to try and join a floor hockey league, I’ll never keep up with them right, as well if I just went and joined a man’s football league well, I probably get squished so this is the one sport that’s truly unique in a manner that you can, anybody can do it, anybody can succeed and even age really doesn’t matter like Summer is 15, and she’s a better shot than the most adults I know so you know it’s more rewarding for the young people too when they’re able to do something and do it well as you know, I think times are changing and even women and advocacy, we’ve got some women in top positions within our organization, I know I am probably the first female gun lobbyist, I guess he could call it in Canada and I know when I go to different MPs or with public safety, and when I first started going around, it was almost like a novelty because I was a girl, right.
WF: I honestly can’t think of anyone else who’s female in the firearms lobby.
TW: We’ve got females in the antigun lobby. Of course, great. And that’s the thing as they sort of protect the you know violence against women thing and I’m all about making a safer Canada but I think we’ve just got to be rational and realistic so yes so we just sort of grew from there and then April of this year was when I became a paid staff [member] of the CCFR rather [than] volunteer so I resigned my position as a director and took up my new job and became a lobbyist and you know you can check on the lobby Canada records I’ll send you the link for it but you know I got some pretty impressive lobby records already and I think you know even just the demeanor of women sometimes I think we’ve been dealing with that kind of angry white guy syndrome, with the gun lobby over the past few decades, it’s always been the same faces, fists pounding on desk it’s you know a little bit hostile right.
TW: So when I go in there, I’m a mom and I’m a grandma is just sort of a difference, it’s a different atmosphere all together and you know it’s effective. To play the gender card be I’m going to play it to my advantage.
WF: I wouldn’t even say its a gender thing, I just think it’s more of a people just need to kind of look beyond the stereotypes.
TW: That’s exactly it. Breaking stereotypes right, left, and center. It’s never been this way before so we’re in uncharted territory and as you know it’s great we’ve had some wonderful successes and then we know last year we had the big project with the explainer videos and Rod’s always come up with all these really cool ideas on how to you know get more people involved and we started looking at the demographics as gun owners you know you got 2.2 million licensed gun owners in Canada but how come they not participating in advocacy how come you know the advocacy community is maybe one or two percent so where are they? You know we need them we’ve got to stop throwing that 2.2 million number around if they’re not going to participate because then the numbers are not valid.
WF: Why do you think it’s so fractured up here versus how it’s like in US? because we’re always compared against America, that comparison’s always made.
TW: Sure yeah I’ll tell you exactly why it is because in the United States just the culture itself [is] a little different right, up here you know hunting is more socially acceptable it’s even recognized politically it’s protected like a heritage law you know it’s more accepted however the rest of the shooting sports not so much. That’s why we’ve got a little bit of a divide is I think in general, hunters think that they’re not susceptible to the same legislation creation and burden that we face but they are because it’s like that [meme] going around Facebook all the time you know first they came for the semi-autos right, and then the next thing, and the next and that’s the thing you know… unless we are all content to be sitting around with our single shot shotguns I think we’ve got to get more together as a group and for the most part you know hunters and trappers just maybe aren’t even aware of some of the problems because maybe they do have you know firearms that are in a different classification and they don’t realize all the problems, so in an effort to reach out to that part of the community which is absolutely not preaching to the choir because like I said there not participating and we need them, we need the strength in numbers so we signed a deal with Wild TV and we have our own TV show coming up soon so we start filming for that I think like this winter or spring so shortly so the air in the next season so the 2018 and season one will air on Wild TV.
TW: This will be a show concentrating on the shooting sports in Canada and for the most part stuff like black rifles and hand guns now were going to highlight and promote [the] sport which is largely kind of ignored or hidden away and advertise it widely to the hunting community [which is] great. I know that I came from that community, I know everyone calls people who are of that mindset they call them “Fudds” or “Elmer Fudds” or something. I literally was a “Fudd” because I you know I only ever saw rifles and shotguns and I never knew I never was exposed to anything else and if you’re not going to step out of that box a little and explore what else is there in your sport you can get pretty bored of it that’s exactly where I was at. So I think it’s really important [to] reach out to these people and the aim of the show is going to be largely entertainment, but its always going to revert back to a message right, and it’s going to promote membership and it’s going to promote community and promote the sport you know. Each episode could have multiple segments, so we can cram a lot into each episode, it’s going to be super high action, super high entertainment and people are really going to love this and a 100 percent pure Canadian content so that’s never been done, nobody’s ever done that so this you know, I know I had Wild TV on my cable package for I don’t know how long maybe two decades and I loved it between hunting and fishing shows. You never see anything like that for Canada with you know a show just concentrating on the shooting sports and not so much the hunting community so we’re super excited about it.
TW: I know Rod is so creative and he’s working with the producers of the show, we’ve got a great team working on it, and I think people are just going to be completely blown away like this is huge, you know, in Canada, we’ve got you know we’ve got magazines and we’ve got you know social media, we’ve got a few other places where we can go and kind of absorb up some of our culture, but like mainstream TV, this is going to be amazing.
WF: I think don’t it’s been done before not in Canada anyways.
TW: America has had shows like I think “America Shoots” and you know there’s all kinds of different shows like that right.
WF: They literally have “NRA TV”.
TW: Yeah that’s it. Our show is going to be expensive, going to cost us some money, but ultimately I think it’s a really awesome use of member dollars because we’re going to grow the organization we’re going to grow the sport were going to grow recognition in the country like this, there’s no downside to it right and the entire community is going to benefit from it.
……….With production in progress for the show you can look for their show “The CCFR’s Down Range Canada” set to debut on Wild TV Canada during fall launch 2018.
……….To take a more in-depth look at the one of the many resources that the CCFR provides such as the Explainer videos check them out here: http://gundebate.ca/ To view Tracey’s official lobbying record with the federal government click here: https://lobbycanada.gc.ca/app/secure/ocl/lrs/do/clntSmmry?clientOrgCorpNumber=359681&sMdKy=1513715653970&V_TOKEN=1513715653970
……….In the next part of my interview, Tracey and I go more depth with the average Canadian’s perception of firearms, the News and Hollywood effect, and the fear of the unknown, and what the CCFR is doing to dispell myths and empower non-firearm owning Canadians with knowledge of the sport, history, and facts surrounding firearms.
Reporting for TV-PressPass