LA Times: Bearing Arms, Braving Insults
The Los Angeles Times' coverage of the 20th annual Gun Rights Policy Conference shows how having such a national conference in a place with heavy gun control laws can envigorate gun rights activists who are fighting in the local trenches.
- Paul Wilder avidly defends the right to bear arms, and he's heard all the insults. Crazy, trigger-happy, gun nut -- to name a few.
Standing outside a hotel ball room near LAX on Saturday where 400 gun rights
advocates from around the country gathered for the 20th annual Gun Rights Policy
Conference, Wilder tried to explain the stigma that he and his fellow devotees
of the 2nd Amendment were up against.
"There's this perception out that we're all rednecks who want a shootout in
the OK Corral, but I'm a schoolteacher, and there are attorneys and doctors and
people of all walks of life here," said Wilder, 44, who also edits books. "We're
just average citizens who want our views heard."
Attendees at the two-day conference, which is held in a different city in the
country each year, ranged from Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the
National Rifle Assn., to individual gun owners such as Wilder who were
interested in learning about issues for gun owners.
For many of California's grass-roots firearms activists, the two-day event
was a rare chance to hear from leaders of the national movement.
"It's definitely invigorating," Wilder said. "It's tough; we're kind of
fighting in the trenches."
Apart from trade shows, Wilder said he had never seen so many gun rights
people in the same room.
The newspaper said event organizers acknowledged that California seems an odd place
for a gun rally given its relatively strict ownership and registration laws, they said their mission includes bringing their message to places where it's not always welcome.
- "It's important to come to the belly of the beast every once in a while,"
said Peggy Tartaro, a board member for the national Citizens Committee for the
Right to Keep and Bear Arms, which co-sponsored the event.
For more from the conference, read the blog from Buckeye Firearms Association's Jim Irvine, who was a guest speaker.