Chairman's notes from the 26th annual Gun Rights Policy Conference (GRPC)
by Jim Irvine
The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) held their 26th annual Gun Rights Policy Conference (GRPC) in Chicago this year. I have missed the last few events and was excited to attend this year's conference. I'm not sure how many I have attended, but for me, this was the best.
Many criticized going and spending money in Chicago, Illinois, which is enemy territory for gun owners. Illinois is the only state with no legal concealed carry, with Chicago leading the fight against gun ownership in that state. But you don't win wars by playing defense. You must play offense to score points. Going into the "belly of the beast" for this conference was a great idea, and one that, it is hoped, will bear fruit as the people who live there are now better equipped to win the fight to regain their Second Amendment rights, and that is great news for all gun owners.
The event comprises a series of individuals giving short talks about various issues. Many of the speakers are nationally recognized experts. Others include legislators, members of the media, and leaders in the pro-freedom movement. Talks are informative to both individual citizens and other experts gathered for the event. There is also time for networking and getting to know the individuals involved in the many fights to regain our rights.
It is impossible to convey all the information presented in one article. What follows is a very brief summary of the notes I took on a few of the presentations from the weekend.
Alan Gottlieb, SAF –- There is hostility from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama toward our rights, and they will use the full power of the federal government to attack them. Judges are critically important in the fight to preserve our rights and Obama will appoint more anti-gun zealots. It is of critical importance that national, state and local groups work together as was done in the civil rights battles in the 60's.
Sandy Froman, NRA past president -- A patriot is someone who loves his or her country. The opposite of patriotism is apathy. "I can't make a difference" is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Elections matter. President Obama's Supreme Court appointments and the critical nature of lifetime appointments of federal judges are important to our fight. Pray for the five Supreme Court justices who voted with us in Heller and McDonald.
All federal judges are important nominations. On average about 40 judges, or 20% of all federal appeals circuit court judges, are replaced in a four-year period. In two terms approximately 40 percent or almost half of all federal appeals judges will be replaced. This is critical with the backdrop that only 1 percent of cases are taken up by the SCOTUS.
Your vote for President next November is a vote for judicial appointments for the rest of your life.
Joe Waldron, CCRKBA Executive Director -- talked about Florida's recent legislative activities.
HB45 put teeth into their preemption law which will help force compliance on rogue cities.
HB155 prohibits doctors from asking about guns, raising insurance for gun owners.
SB234 was the most controversial. It contained a parking lot fix, allowing employees to have firearms in their cars at work. It allows the Department of Agriculture to take fingerprints of people applying for a CWL. In the past, persons had to have law enforcement take the fingerprints. It allowed the purchase of long guns across state lines. There was a carry on college campus provision that was removed in the first hearing and an allowance for open carry that was watered down.
Each of these bills was signed into law this year.
Gene Hoffman, co-founder, and Chairman of the CalGuns Foundation -- discussed the insanity of the proposed banning of open carry of unloaded firearms in California. He expects Governor Jerry Brown to veto most anti-gun bills, except possibly AB144. Brown is a gun owner.
The Honorable Phillip Journey, District Court Judge from Kansas -- discussed their fight to pass concealed carry. Right to carry was the first veto override in Kansas in 14 years. The next override was a clean-up bill that included preemption.
Andy Allen, President of the Nebraska Firearms Owners Association -- noted that Omaha seems to want to be another Chicago. He commented that we should build a coalition of like-minded people and groups. Find out who your friends are; there are more than you would think.
U.S. Sovereignty and the U.N. and the Hidden International Gun Control Agenda
Alan Gottlieb, International Association for the Protection of Civilian Arms Rights - IAPCAR was formed to bring the benefits and lessons of GRPC to the international community. Help groups in other countries become effective. Getting grassroots involved in foreign countries is paying dividends in influencing countries' positions at the UN. Foreign threats to our rights are increasing, and IAPCAR is a great idea to reverse this trend.
Silvia Gentile from Italy and Gary Burris commented on the success of the program. They have worked to sign people up for a class action lawsuit for self-defense rights in Italy. They have seen evidence of anti-gun police traveling to the US and taking anti-gun legislation back to pass in other countries.
Post McDonald Litigation to regain lost rights
Alan Gura – He and SAF are working to turn the Second Amendment into a normal part of the Bill of Rights. The biggest challenge is the litigation of bad Second Amendment cases. There have been hundreds of cases with bad plaintiffs or well intentioned, but ill-equipped attorneys since the Heller and McDonald decisions. Each of these bad cases hurts our cause.
The Ezell case – 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Violation of Second Amendment rights causes irreparable harm. Can get immediate injunctive right to get a gun. Right to own a gun, but also to shoot gun and practice on a range. Close to strict burden on city to place limits makes life more difficult for the city of Chicago going forward. City government continues to try to run away from lawsuits, but we are pursuing them and will continue.
Next big SCOTUS case will involve the right to carry a gun outside the home. "May issue" concealed laws are discriminatory and are being litigated. Sacramento CA is now a shall-issue county resulting from a case that was settled out of court. There is a ban on carrying firearms during a state of emergency in North Carolina that must be removed.
Gura is involved in many other lawsuits. He cautioned that we will not win every one, but just as a win does not solve all our problems, a loss will not be the end of the road. His track record is impressive and it will be fun to watch his work benefit all gun owners in the coming years.
David Sigale, Esq. -- He assisted Gura on McDonald, Ezell and other cases with Gura and SAF. Chicago
argued that they needed discovery, interrogatories, and were generally hostile to deal with. Appeals court ruled quickly and the SCOTUS was great. In the Ezell case, they were forced to go through an amazing amount of depositions and discovery. They were given impossible timelines, but everyone worked hard and met them, which allowed the case to move quickly to the circuit court where a favorable ruling was attained.
The owner of Illinois Gun Works (a suburban range near Chicago) testified that there was no possible way to safely operate a range in the city of Chicago. People who sell out the movement for their own personal gain hurt us all and we should be on the lookout in our own states for such businesses and not support those who undercut our rights for their own personal profit. Gun owners need to stick together.
Personal Defense and the Justice System
Kathy Jackson, aka the Cornered Cat, talked about building a culture. It is common sense to obtain training and carry a gun.
Massad Ayoob - We are winning in our criminal justice system. "Stand your ground" laws are a tremendous moral victory and a safety valve for prosecutors under political pressure to prosecute self-defense cases. They are not ironclad, and any negligence will put you in a bad situation. Civil immunity laws are a help for some judges, but not a panacea. Affirmative defenses are getting stronger. Arizona is putting the burden of proof back on the state. "Everywhere you look, we are winning." This was a common theme of the weekend.
Gun Walker/ Fast and Furious ATF Scandal
David Codrea is one of the key investigative journalists working to uncover the truth behind the "Gun Walker" aka Fast and Furious program to intentionally arm violent criminals, which has resulted in hundreds of deaths in Mexico, and the murders of at least two U.S. federal officers.
Agents are saying there is corruption. People are dead. There is a cover-up and arrogance at the highest levels of government and likely perjury under oath to Congress. Had ATF done its job several years ago, the project would never have happened and Agent Brian Terry would be alive today, as well as numerous Mexicans.
He recommended the Web site www.CleanupATF.org for updates as this story unfolds.
Dave Workman, senior editor of Gun Week, also talked on the "Gun Walker" story. Both Workman and Codrea write for the Examiner. They will get to the bottom of what happened, and it will make you sick as they peel back the layers of corruption in our supposedly open government. But it makes me proud to know that such men exist and will not stop until those responsible are held accountable for their actions.
As frustrating as it has been in Ohio to follow the rest of the country in restoring our 2A rights, we are far ahead of California, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey. There is real progress under way in those states thanks to efforts by national organizations and the involvement of state groups and grassroots activists engaged in the fight. Because of the involvement of more people, there are more victories across our country, even in hostile states. We need to maintain and build our presence as we head into election year.
We all need to work harder at getting kids involved in the shooting sports, working with legislatures and adjusting tactics to work with what you have (not what you wish you had) and to keep pushing the movement forward one step at a time.
Even in hostile states, anti-gun legislation is proving very difficult to pass. We are stopping things from getting worse. In most states, we are winning battles and passing good bills. We as a movement have influenced the pendulum and it's clearly moving back in the right direction. We are right and our cause is just. We continue to grow in numbers as people become educated about our issue and many people are getting involved for the first time in their lives. It is up to each of us to get others to join us in our fight, allowing us to push the pendulum faster and restore our rights to their proper level.
Aside from all the very interesting policy discussions, one of my personal highlights was meeting Otis McDonald's family. Judging by his children and grandchildren, Otis is not just a great American, but a great husband and father. This son of a sharecropper has more than done his momma proud.