GRPC – Day 3

The third day of the Gun Rights Policy Conference was only a half day. Peggy Tartaro, editor of Women & Guns, served as the moderator for this day. The day began with a session on knife rights.

Doug Ritter – founder and chairman of KnifeRights.org – They have trademarked the slogan “Knife Rights – The Second Front in the Defense of the Second Amendment”. Doug noted that the challenges faced with regard to knife rights are that the same groups against gun right are against knife rights, the anti’s are looking at knives as an easy target, and finally, they see attacks on knives as a backdoor to more gun control. The biggest challenge right now is the declared war on pocket knives by NY DA Cyrus Vance, Jr. who is attempting to shake down retailers in the same way that Tony Soprano might. A lawsuit is being readied against New York on this. The legal team will include Alan Gura and NJ gun rights attorney Evan Nappen among others.

Les de Asis – found and president, Benchmade Knives – noted that the Federal Switchblade Act was enacted in 1958. At that time, knife makers were not united and rolled over in the face of opposition. The difference now is that knife makers are united. Many companies have donated over $30,000 each to finance the pending litigation in New York City.

Todd Rathner – NRA Director and director of legislative affairs for KnifeRights – Said that we need to build support for knife rights at the state and local level. Pointed to their success in Arizona and New Hampshire. Said we have to be pro-active. Remember that knives are everyday tools.

The next session was entitled “Countering the Establishment Media Bias”. The session was moderated by Tom Gresham of GunTalk Radio.

Tom Gresham – Said that there was and was not media bias. Part of it comes from ignorance. Noted they usually don’t know they are wrong and we must work to educate and correct them. Rather than getting in their face about it, be smart and give a reasoned argument. Remember ignorant is not the same as stupid and the media isn’t stupid.

Declan McCullagh – CBS News – There is media bias. Political editors tend to be left of center. Some try to compensate for this, some don’t. The biggest bias is invisible bias – the story that isn’t written.

Malia Zimmerman – editor of the Hawaii Reporter – Discussed how to reach out to the media. Make an expert list and give out to the media. When dealing with TV reporters, make sure to talk to the cameraman as they tend to be more conservative and often ex-military.

Don Irvine – president of Accuracy in Media – To combat media bias, we need to be experts in using social media such as Facebook and Twitter. It allows us to get our message out even if the media won’t do it.

The third session of the day featured a discussion on campus safety and the battle for concealed carry on campus.

David Burnett, president of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus – The Virginia Tech shootings were a mini-9/11 for colleges. Discussed the empty holster protests which are a token of being disarmed. It has now spread to 130 campuses and has gotten a lot of publicity. Noted that students are being taught that being disarmed will keep them safe.

Jim Manley – staff attorney for Mountain States Legal Foundation – Discussed their lawsuit against the University of Colorado. Under the Colorado Concealed Carry Act, universities are areas where concealed carry is permitted. Won their case in the Colorado Ct. of Appeals but the university appealed to the CO Supreme Court. The Ct. of Appeals rejected rational basis – a lesser standard – as the standard of review.

Rick Walker – Western Regional Director, SCCC – Noted the importance to get to students now as they are the next generation of leaders. Help students to get involved; teach them they have a role.

The Battle for Places to Shoot was the next session. The various challenges to gun ranges on both public and private land was discussed.

Dave Workman – senior editor for Gun Week – Discussed the threats to shooting and hunting on public lands especially US Forest Service land. USFS has, in some areas, tried to use a non-existent law/court ruling to shut down shooting areas. Noted that the introduction of wolves along with endangered species will be used as a means to impact shooting on public lands because the noise might “bother” them. Pointed out HR 5523 which would prohibit the closure of public shooting on public lands. Need to see if your Congressman is a sponsor.

Guy Smith – founder of GunFacts.info – Suggested we get involved with the local shooting ranges so that they will survive. Need to keep track of local government meeting agendas as they are where the threat will come from. Pre-emption laws are our number one tool to keep ranges open.

Jim Bass – president of the Sacramento Valley Shooting Center – Ranges can’t avoid being on the radar of anti-gun groups and politicians. Ranges must absolutely make sure that they are in compliance with all environmental and lead abatement laws. Should have lead reclamation policies in place along with safety equipment.

The final presentation session of the day was a discussion of the gun rights battles of the future and how to prepare for them.

Joe Waldron – legislative affairs director of CCRKBA – Since the budget has not been passed by Congress yet, the funding acts for department such as Justice and Homeland Security will be targets for add-ons for gun control. Logic and facts are needed to pass pro-gun bills; only emotion is needed to pass gun control laws. The lame duck session could be very dangerous for gun rights if the Democrats lose.

Sean McClanahan – president of the Iowa Firearms Coalition – Said we need to encircle or hem in the anti-gunners. In the pursuit of gun rights, we should ignore party politics for the most part. Noted that “shall issue” concealed carry passed in Iowa due to a Democrat.

Alan Gottlieb – Joined the last session towards the end. Said we can never give up because if we do, we lose. We need to keep the anti-gunners on the defensive. Their advantage is that they have a common target – guns. We must present a united front and not air our dirty laundry in public.

The conference ended with the report of the resolutions committee and closing remarks from Alan Gottlieb and Joe Tartaro.


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