Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Manasota Gun Traders Growing into a Large Family

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Manasota Gun Traders Growing into a Large Family

Article excerpt

The Manasota Gun Traders are on a meteoric rise.

You can see their green "MGT" bio-hazard type stickers on the backs of car windows nearly everywhere now.

In fact, last week the Manasota Gun Traders were just celebrating their 4,900th member. Just a few days later their membership had risen to 5,016.

It's certainly the fastest growing gun group I've ever heard of. And it's hard to name any type of social group based in Manatee and Sarasota counties that has more than 5,000 members.

I spoke to one of the organizers, Bob Ransome, about the group's success.

He pointed out that MGT is so much more than a group of gun enthusiasts who exchange information via Facebook.

They've become a family.

The group hosts huge events -- dinners, golf tournaments, barbecues and pumpkin carving with .22 rifles. They support a myriad of local charities, and have become an indispensable marketing tool for local gun-related businesses.

"We pride ourselves on covering from Punta Gorda to St. Pete, but 90 percent of our members are from Sarasota and Manatee counties," Ransome said.

It all began just a few years ago.

"MGT was created by John Horton," Ransome said. "He tried to post a couple guns for sale on local pages, and got shot down, so he decided to create a local page for guns. John immediately turned to Jeff Norris, another admin, for help. I was brought in after the fact."

Nowadays, MGT has one of the most active Facebook pages around.

There's some good-natured snark in the threads, but no personal attacks. Ransome and the other admins see to that.

"We're open-minded, but we stick to the rules," he said. "Our famous saying is, 'Stop trolling and keep on scrolling.' If you don't like a post, scroll past it to the next one. We're very vigilant about booting out troublemakers."

The group also maintains a zero-tolerance policy for anti-law enforcement remarks. …

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