Shooting Straight with Dianna Muller

by
posted on May 24, 2022
Dianna Muller
Photo: Forrest MacCormack

You may remember Dianna Muller from when she testified before Congress in 2019. At the time, she boldly stated that she “would not comply” if they instituted another so-called “assault-weapons” ban. Having been given only moments to speak, she didn’t have time to explain much more in that hearing, but it was enough. Many—especially those in the mainstream media—seemed surprised by such a strong statement, especially coming from a retired police officer.

Muller, however, is also a competitive shooter and the founder of the DC Project, a pro-Second Amendment organization advocating “Education, not Legislation,” so this was neither the first, nor the last time Congress would hear from her. She testifies regularly, making logical, fact-based arguments on everything from magazine-capacity restrictions to red-flag laws. She also works with women in every state to help them tell their legislators about the realities of proposed laws and regulations. She wants to ensure that lawmakers know that women value their Second Amendment rights. It’s an especially important mission in a time when law-abiding citizens who choose to keep and bear arms are often treated as if they are villains by some in the media and by politicians who want to further restrict this right. 

I caught up with Muller when she came to the D.C. area to film outreach videos to help spread her message.

A1F: Did you grow up shooting?
Muller: Yes, my dad made sure that my sister and I knew proper firearms handling from a very young age. He also took me deer hunting when I was in my teens; in fact, I got a deer on my 16th birthday. It’s not fun for me, though, sitting still so long, and I also don’t like field-dressing animals. So, I appreciate meat and hunters, but it’s not for me. Then my dad introduced me to the shooting sports, and I dabbled in competitive shooting in high school.

Dianna Muller
DC Project is releasing a series of videos highlighting defensive gun uses from women representing a wide variety of demographics.


A1F: Your past is filled with rodeos, horse shows, barrel racing and longtime service as a police officer; also, you are a two-time national 3-gun champion and a firearms instructor. And now you often make the news with your activism on behalf of the Second Amendment. What leads you from one of these passions to the next

Muller: I had no intention of being where I am now. It’s not like I set my sights and worked toward it. It’s been more organic—the Lord directing me after I didn’t listen to him for a very long time. In high school and college, I knew I needed a profession. My father was in law enforcement, so I went down that path, too. I went to Tulsa, Okla., about seven hours away, where I didn’t have much of a support system, but that didn’t faze me at the time, and I remained there for 22 years. During that time, I got back into horses and barrel racing, which were childhood hobbies.

But fast-forward about 18 years into that, and I forced myself to go to a new range, the U.S. Shooting Academy. When they built that range, in 2008 or 2009, I went to a match, just to get some reps in, to get in some time with my duty pistol. I enjoyed it and really fell in love with the people in the shooting sports.

In 2010, FN America invited me to shoot for their team. Over the next few years, my secondary hobby became more lucrative than my primary hobby. So, in 2011, I sold everything, including the farm and horses, to focus on competitive shooting. By 2014, I was still working full-time as a police officer but also traveling for shooting. I decided to retire. I had originally wanted to stay in my career to 25 years, but I think that was God pushing me. Plus, my husband, Ryan, had started shooting competitively in 2011 after he met me, and we married in 2014. We somewhat honeymooned in Italy because we had a work trip to film with Shooting Gallery at the Benelli factory. It was there we discussed whether we thought we could both do this pro-shooting thing. So, we’ve been professionally shooting since 2014, which is what has allowed me to pursue the advocacy part.

In 2015, we were close to D.C. for some matches, and we were going to go as tourists. A friend asked if we wanted to meet our Oklahoma congressman while we were there. I was apathetic, but I did it. I asked Rep. Steve Russell (R), “Hey, is there something we should be doing as pro shooters to help educate legislators?” That’s when I first felt a calling, but I really had no clue what to do. I thought I would use only pro shooters at first but realized I needed one from every state, and there are not that many professional shooters. I organized a small group of people to visit their legislators to see if there was something we could do to make a difference, and it seemed to be possible. I realized during that visit that women can speak more effectively about the Second Amendment because we break that old stereotype about old, white, male gun owners. So, then I turned my focus to what the ladies could do and the voice we represented. The DC Project grew out of that, using ladies’ voices to say no to gun control. We want to protect ourselves, and we need to counter groups like Moms Demand Action (MDA).

DC Project participants
COVID-19 didn’t stop DC Project participants Gina Roberts, Rhonda Mary, Nikki Goeser, Sarah Moe, Dianna Muller, Mia Anstine, Laura Evans, Amanda Suffecool and Kelly Pidgeon from coming to D.C. to speak with the Second Amendment Caucus and Senate Judiciary members and staff in 2021.


A1F:
You’ve done a lot with the NRA over the years. Now, as we break free from COVID and can start to gather again, will you continue to do that?
Muller: Absolutely. The NRA is the oldest civil-rights organization in America. Its history is fascinating, and I’m proud to work with the NRA to protect our Constitution and our most-fundamental human right to protect ourselves through bearing arms!

A1F: You’ve encouraged gun owners to “get involved and engaged” in the fight for their Second Amendment rights, which of course we very much encourage as well, but what advice do you have for those who feel like they wouldn’t even know where to start?
Muller: Do something. Pick up the phone. Make an appointment with your legislator. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, hit up the DC Project and contact NRA Grassroots (nraila.org/grassroots), which has a lot of resources to help you.

A1F: DC Project used to only work at the federal level, right?
Muller: Yes. Traditionally, I would get one woman from every state to meet in Washington, D.C., and shake hands as gun owners. Then we watched Virginia go anti-gun, plus COVID rolled around, so in 2020, we pushed out to the state level. I asked these ladies who’d been coming to D.C. with me to organize for their state level. Now our doors are open to anybody. Before, someone would call from a state—well, really, hundreds of people from various states—and I would have to turn them all down because I already had one. Now we can really grow.

A1F: Support for further gun control is at an all-time low, and Americans have been arming themselves at record rates lately, but gun ownership has always been generally popular in America. Yet too many politicians continually push for more legislation to undermine the right. With your experiences dealing directly with legislators, why do you think that disconnect exists?
Muller: I don’t know why, but I think they really are disconnected with reality. They live in an alternate reality and they’re not putting in the time to understand their constituents or gun ownership. I think 2020 and 2021 have awoken people. If you are a sane person and you see them defunding the police and taking firearms, that’s a bad equation for protecting yourself.

But the DC Project can help. We know it’s a constitutional issue—not a partisan issue—and we can offer pro-gun legislators some armor against attacks from the anti-gun groups. We are also a huge asset when it comes time to testify in gun-control hearings. We can crush the anti-gunners’ narratives.

A1F: Have you had any successes when reaching out to legislators who have had anti-gun stances?
Muller: We absolutely try, and we do get meetings in their offices. That’s the big target for us, the people who hate us. We want to meet them all, pro-gun or anti-gun, and to try to influence them. We really try to build bridges. It’s just so hard since it’s so politicized these days.

Even when we don’t get traction directly with anti-gun legislators, though, our time spent in D.C. can change minds about gun ownership. For example, I testified in 2019 for the first time, and that’s where our counter-visuals first kicked in. We knew MDA would be there with their red shirts, so we created teal DC Project shirts, which show rifles and the word “legislate” crossed out with the word “educate” written over it. Several girls stood in line very early so they could sit behind me. Since then, we launched the #TealFor2A campaign, encouraging women to adopt that color to try to really provide the visual: “Hey, that’s a gun owner and they look pleasant.” We need ways to break anti-gun stereotypes.

A1F: How much backlash do you encounter?
Muller: Honestly, I don’t think we’re big enough yet for MDA and other anti-gunners to really come after us. I actually met Shannon Watts [founder of MDA] at a Time magazine event—they had a thing with 250 or so pro- and anti-gun people. When I tried to talk with her, Watts said, “Where do you stand on universal background checks?” I responded that I disagree with them, and she said, “Then we have nothing to talk about.” But we’ve intentionally tried to stay under the radar and focus on the legislative relationships. A friend of mine in D.C. once told me I needed to decide whether I wanted to make waves or build relationships, and I chose relationships.

A1F: Have you struggled to get the DC Project’s message out with “cancel culture” in full effect?
Muller: Social-media censorship hurts our entire firearms industry and our reach. They’re making it difficult for anyone who’s a gun owner or manufacturer. They’re squelching anyone who is speaking out against their narrative or who normalizes gun ownership.

A1F: Tell us about Ambassador Academy.
Muller: My heart is to be effective and to help people be better communicators for our cause. Part of that is encompassed in the DC Project; the other is the Ambassador Academy. It’s a five-day training on how to be a brand ambassador, be on camera, film and edit yourself and be a good communicator. I wanted to provide a course for people to get better at this because it’s the class I always wanted!

This is our fourth year. It’s a very intimate class of just 16 people together for five days. We hire subject-matter experts in social media, film and editing and hostile and friendly communications, plus we throw in a little bit of live-fire and the best scenario training I’ve ever seen. Professional photographers are there, getting students a portfolio of amazing photos. We hold these at W.O.F.T. (West Orlando Firearms Training), which has been called the “Tactical Disneyland” because it’s more like a resort than a range. We’ve ended up planning dinners there because it’s hard to get people to leave at the end of the day. It’s like going to camp for big kids.

Mary Forgues
“My story is one of the estimated two million lives saved by guns each year,” said Mary Forgues (left) in a DC Project video promoting education over legislation. Lucretia Hughes (right) said, “The gun-control lobby claims their policies will save lives [but] these policies did not save my son.”

A1F: What do you see as DC Project’s next steps?
Muller: Continue to grow and build our base to be a more-effective presence at hearings, rallies and other events. We also want to reach out to new gun owners, to make sure they understand that there’s a whole world out there they might not know about, whether it’s the practicalities of using a firearm safely or the political means to keep that protection.

We’re putting out some powerful outreach videos, telling women’s stories, showing how gun-control laws hurt rather than help women. Women want to be able to protect themselves and their children!

We are also petitioning Congress for $50 million to put firearms education back in schools. It can take many years to get something like this moving, so I don’t think it’ll be fast, but if we’re persistent, we can make it happen.

A1F: You inspire many. Who inspires you?
Muller: My dad, Dick Liedorff, was a huge influence, from firearms interactions to hunting to law enforcement. He’s definitely part of my inspiration. And my friend, Jane Horton, who set up my first meeting with my congressman. She became a military widow in 2011, and she felt the loss of her husband was handled so poorly that she’s since made it her life’s work to improve things for Gold Star and other military families. She moved to D.C. and put her husband’s Killed-in-Action bracelet on everyone she met, from Bush to Obama to Trump, working side-by-side with candidates she didn’t necessarily like. She shows that if you put in the work, you can make a difference. 

A1F: How can people follow your work?
Muller: Find us at dcproject.info, ambassadoracademy.info and on most major social-media platforms.

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