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Gun rights initiative backers find energy in ‘70s gun rights rock tune

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Backers of Washington state’s Initiative 591, the grassroots effort to protect gun owners’ rights, are warming up to a recently-uncovered 38-year-old rock tune by Grand Funk Railroad and publicized today in The Gun Mag.com (TGM) as “the most pro-Second Amendment song ever.”

The song’s title is “Don’t Let Them Take Your Gun.” According to the article appearing today in the on-line version of TGM, written by Vincent DeNiro, editor-in-chief of Prepper and Shooter Magazine, it was produced by rock legend Frank Zappa and appeared on Grand Funk’s “Good Singin’, Good Playin’” album in 1976. DeNiro sent the story via e-mail to Bellevue gun rights guru Alan Gottlieb.

Gottlieb, chairman of the Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) and chief spokesman for the I-591 campaign told Examiner that he had never heard the song before today, and it grabbed his attention like a five-alarm fire. He immediately had DeNiro's story, with a YouTube hotlink, posted on the I-591 Facebook page, where it is getting lots of attention.

Featuring lyrics sure to strike a raw emotional nerve among gun rights activists, the song notes, “So, if you want your freedom son, Don’t want your country to be overrun, You got to keep America number-one…My daddy told me son, don’t let ’em take your gun!”

Gottlieb thinks the song carries a great musical message that, 38 years after it was first performed, is relevant to the Evergreen State campaign. I-591 prohibits government gun confiscation without due process. It also requires that background checks conducted in Washington State comply with a uniform national standard.

The initiative is backed by a coalition of groups that include hunters, law enforcement professionals, collectors and competitors. Protect Our Gun Rights is the umbrella group that includes the Washington Arms Collectors, CCRKBA, Hunters Heritage Council, Washington State Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association and Washington State Rifle and Pistol Association.

Recorded to coincide with the Bicentennial celebration, “Don’t Let Them Take Your Gun” was performed by lead singer Mark Farner, according to DeNiro’s article. How Gottlieb never heard of this song before today is a mystery, considering that the lyrics note, “Ohhh, this year is our anniversary. Two hundred years, people we’ve been free. Won’t be nobody takin’ over our land, If everybody’s brother’s got a gun in his hand.”

Perhaps best known for its mega-hit “We’re an American Band,” Grand Funk Railroad was formed in 1969, according to a Wikipedia biography and their music blasted across the airwaves on every rock station from Portland, Maine to Portland, Ore. They had other hits, including “Some Kind of Wonderful” and a hard rock version of “The Loco-Motion,” the Carole King song that rocketed Little Eva to fame a decade earlier. "The Loco-Motion" put Grand Funk at the top of the charts.

If it is true that all political campaigns need energy, “Don’t Let Them Take Your Gun” could fire things up faster than the Energizer bunny. As the sweet warmth of spring leads us toward the lazy days of summer, this no-longer obscure tune just might be what it takes to liven up a gun rights campaign.

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