Highlights of the 2015 Gun Rights Policy Conference
The broad spectrum of gun-rights activists were at this years Gun Rights Policy Conference. The crowd who traveled to Phoenix Arizona are the same ones who stand up in court. They testify before the legislature. They also collect signatures at county fairs. Here they were sitting side by side. They are the leaders and the boots on the ground supporting the right of armed defense.
There was a lot of material for everyone. One of my friends who attended for the first time called it drinking from a fire hose. This conference is the fertilizer for the grass roots of self-defense activism. Here are the highlights.
• Professor John Lott reminded who needs self-defense. The inner city poor are the most likely victims of violence. They also face the highest fees and strictest regulations if they want to defend themselves with a firearm. They face the highest bureaucratic barriers to protect themselves at home and on the street. Areas like Watts and Compton in Los Angeles need concealed carry, not Hollywood with its gated communities. The Bowery needs concealed carry more than Manhattan.
• Rashad Gray spoke about the urban outreach program scheduled in Cleveland.
• Cheryl Todd and Carrie Lightfoot spoke about women in the gun culture. We see women in gun stores and training classes. We have women at the range but we need more women at the podium. We need more women testifying in front of the legislature and in front of civic groups.
• Jim Irvine talked about training hundreds of schoolteachers for armed self-defense. Let’s face it, school boards and school administrators are managers rather than pioneers. At first, the school board says they can’t try something new.. like armed defense of their students and staff. Then they meet a superintendent who already has armed staff in his school district. Next they send an observer to a training class. Then they send one teacher and a supervisor to take the training and report to the board. Typically, they send two teachers and a local trainer so they can build their own program. This is the creeping progress of common sense.
• Doug Ritter from Knife Rights talked about the 60 thousand honest citizens who are arrested each year in NYC for having a pocket knife. The good news is that a judge said the city has to defend those absurd laws.. after a four year court battle. Doug gave us the line, “All knives matter.”
• In the lobby, I heard “Give guns a chance.”
• The New York SAFE act disarmed the Amish because the Amish don’t have picture identification cards. Also, the Amish don’t go to court. They will now, or their friends will go for them.
• Lobbying- You go to your elected representative, and he calls you a special interest. Think about that for a minute. A special interest asks for money. As citizen-lobbyists for the right of self-defense, we ask the state to leave us alone. A politician is elected by 20 to 25 percent of the adult population.. at most. Contrast that with gun owners where half the homes in America have a gun. When you talk to your legislator, which of us is a special interest, and which one is truly defending the public interest?
• Bob Young from Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership talked about mental illness and violence. When they are treated, the mentally ill are less violent than the average population. When they are treated with medication, the mentally ill are less violent than the average population. It isn’t that the drugs make people violent. It is that we’re treating the violently mentally ill with drugs. It is the disease talking, not the medication. Psychiatrists can’t determine who will be violent.
• I also met more doctors who want to be able to protect themselves as they go to and from work. 10 percent of workplace violence happens in healthcare facilities.
• There are lots of gun rights groups preparing candidate information. Thank you, Firearms Coalition and Jeff Knox.
• AWR Hawkins received the journalist of the year award. He is in excellent company. Previous recipients were Emily Miller, David Codrea and David Workman.
• Mark Walters won the gun rights defender of the year award. Those are big shoes to fill. Otis McDonald received that award in 2011.
• Governor Jim Gilmore from Virginia was there. Governor Gilmore is running for President. There were about 200 armed citizens in the crowd as the governor spoke. There were no magnetometers or security staff patting us down as we entered the room. The governor was in the safest room in America.
800 people attended the conference, but we live-streamed the event. It is up on Youtube and I have the links here along with a list of speakers for each segment. Thank you to SAF and the sponsors for putting on the conference.
See you next year in Tampa, Florida at GRPC 2016.