The Thirty Third annual Gun Rights Policy Conference was held at the Chicago Ohare Hyatt Regency this weekend, 21-23 September, 2018 with this year's title "Fight For Freedom."
Hundreds of attendees, who were noted to be some of the most law abiding citizens in the nation, went to see over 70 speakers from the extended Second Amendment and Firearms community speaking on legislative and court battles in Illinois, California, New Jersey, New York and Georgia. They also heard about the media view of gun rights, Second Amendment Doctrine, the impact of the upcoming November elections, Knife Rights, Child Safety and numerous other topics.
The conference was was free to attend, and each participant received a large stack of firearm and Second Amendment books, magazines and papers. Co-sponsors the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and the Second Amendment Foundation even threw in free lunch, beverages and free parking ( the free parking was especially welcome as any parking at Hyatt beyond the first "free 30 minutes" is $39 a day!)
Willes Lee and Linda Walker, both members of the NRA Board of Directors, spoke about NRA related topics. They were both proud to announce the swearing in of Oliver North as the new NRA President, and also related following the spree shootings in Las Vegas and Parkland, FL, the NRA has picked up one million new members and the NRA now has more than 6 million members. With 80 million gun owners in the U.S. the next elections could be locked up voting to support Second Amendment Rights alone-if only people turn out for the vote and recognize the Democrats have openly admitted they would like to eradicate the Second Amendment and get rid of the private possession of firearms.
Mr Lee talked about continued efforts to secure a nationwide concealed carry law which would recognize any state CCW permit in every state much like a driver's license which is considered valid in all 50 states. He also talked about the National Instant Criminal Background Checks (NICS) being more inefficient than efficient in preventing criminals from trying to purchase guns through legitimate vendors- with 95% of the NICS stops being due to duplicate name and spelling issues-not criminals trying to purchase guns.
One of the most unique speakers was Lara Smith, National Spokesperson for the Liberal Gun Club. Imagine a liberal showing up at this conference! Ms Smith however, was well spoken and probably shocked most of the attendees by stating 25% of liberals say they own guns. She introduced a topic several of the other speakers echoed about Pro-Gun people should not use divisive names towards liberals who also want to protect their families and children. Smith said the two sides are divided on how to work out details about firearms and ownership, but if one fourth of liberals own guns, they may be easier to sway to support firearms initiatives than politicians who are trying to advance total anti-gun agendas. She suggested talking about the Second Amendment as one of our Civil Rights-concepts near and dear to liberals.
Tom Gresham was the keynote Awards Luncheon speaker on Saturday. Tom is the host of the nationally-syndicated Gun Talk Radio and has a loyal following of listeners and participants in his "Truth Squad" which is made up of people who help make calls and write emails and letters to combat anti-gun "stupidity" as Tom calls it. This group has grown to over 350,000 participants.
Mr Gresham also mentioned we should stop talking negatively about liberals to avoid driving them further from reasonable pro-gun ideas. He cited the goal of many pro-gun people arguments are made to try and get anti-gun people "to admit you are right and they are wrong-which never happens." Name calling doesn't help, and alienating liberal gun owners who vote hurts the entire cause of advancing and protecting gun rights and the constitutional amendments. He suggested using anti-gunners as a foil, not a mortal enemy and to be reasonable and measured in responses-not fanatical and wild eyed in front of audiences.
A favorite question Tom Gresham posed to the audience about encounters with anti-gunners was "Do you want to win, or do you just want to fight?" He followed this up by asking how you get to be a better shot- by practicing, and maybe even getting some training. He equated participating in training like this conference helps people understand the arguments and aspects, as well as witnessing so many excellent presenters who routinely advance the cause with effective messages. Building intellectual skills for debate and exposition is well worth pursuing.
Gresham also noted the Center for Disease Control estimates firearms are used to defend life between two million to two and a half million times a year. You don't see that headline plastered over the Sunday night Chicago Murder-fest news in Chicago.
Parkland High School Survivor Kyle Kashuv spoke after Gresham, and received two standing ovations. Kashuv spoke about not wanting to be a teenage celebrity (like an unnamed Camera Hogg), but wanted to be a voice of reason. He advocated addressing school safety with reason, not emotional responses. He supported the armed school guards/police initiative and astutely mentioned passing more gun control laws won't stop criminals or school shooters-who don't follow the law, and when legislators see those continued murders they will make more gun control laws that also don't work, continuing a vicious circle of emotional and ineffective gun control with no resulting safety for children.
Kashuv stunned the crowd by telling them no security measures have been changed or implemented at his high school since the February 2018 shootings. Mr Kashuv drew a rousing round of applause when he cited the best way to stop a bad man with a gun will always be a good man with a gun and to never deny that these shootings could happen at any school in America at any time.