September 29, 2000
September 30, 2000
October 1, 2000
by Bob Lesmeister
Photos by John Krull
If you hold a freedom conference, they will come...
The information-packed afternoon session of the first day of the Gun Rights Policy Conference (Sept. 29-Oct. 1, in the Washington DC area), co-sponsored by the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA), featured guest speakers Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association and Rep. Jack Metcalf (R-WA).
CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb introduced LaPierre, who's been speaking at and supporting the GRPC since its inception 15 years ago. Currently on a whirlwind trek across the country getting out the pro-gun vote, LaPierre expressed his pleasure at being able to address the GRPC attendees. He then launched into an attack on the Clinton/Gore Administration for its efforts to ban freedom in America by passing laws to restrict a citizen's right to self-defense.
"They have every law they'll ever need right now to take violent felons, murderers and drug dealers off the street, hold them without bail and force them to do at least 85% of their time, but they're not doing it," LaPierre said.
He praised Project Exile in Richmond, VA, which cut the murder rate there by 65%, and expressed disgust at the current Administration for fighting such programs. "They have meetings at the Department of Justice on how to deflect support for programs like this," LaPierre said.
Also addressed was the comment that LaPierre made earlier this year accusing the President of aiding violent crime by his inactivity. "Boy, did the media feel his pain! They made him the victim. He's not the victim. The victims are the people who are dying because the President refuses to apply the laws we already have in place. He went on television and in a temper tantrum attacked me personally, but what it did was force the national media to give us our say and people listened. In every single poll I have seen since, over 70% of the American public say we don't need any more gun laws because we're not enforcing those we already have."
To prove his point, LaPierre proclaimed that the NRA has grown by 1.2 million members over the last 12 months. It is the largest membership increase of any organization in the United States over that time period. He also praised the NRA's daily half-hour newscast on its website (www.nrahq.org). "If we can get around the media's filter, the politicians and the media are not going to be able to get a stranglehold on us like they have in the past. We are starting a pro-gun revolution from the grassroots up."
Al Gore was criticized for his flip-flop on the gun issue as LaPierre demonstrated Gore had supported gun rights in the past and voted to curb funding to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms. Then when Gore decided to run for president for the first time in 1988, his aides notified LaPierre that he would be taking the anti-firearms stance to get through the New York primary. Now that states such as Ohio, Tennessee, Florida and Missouri-to name a few-are the real gateway states in this election, Gore is claiming to be a Second Amendment supporter. "Gore has got union stewards walking into shops in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania telling union members that Al Gore is better on the gun issue than George Bush," LaPierre said. "We have at least 50 union members willing to go on record with the national media to document this."
It is not only the Clinton/Gore Administration's attempts to ban firearms ownership in the United States, LaPierre asserts. It is their disdain for the Constitution.
"They think they are more powerful and smarter than the
most powerful document in the history of freedom. Al Gore should
never be put in a position where he could get his hands on this
document," he shouted as he held up a copy of the US Constitution.
Just prior to the awards ceremony, Metcalf addressed the luncheon crowd. "It's a great privilege to be able to work with people who are dedicated to this cause," he beamed. "I appreciate the opportunity to discuss with you one of my favorite and most crucial topics related to maintaining our fundamental liberties."
He stressed the need to convert the people who live in urban areas. He acknowledged that most people who inhabit our rural areas have grown up with guns and don't need much encouragement for pro-firearms support. It is the urban areas where we need to focus our attention, Metcalf said, but it's an uphill fight because that's where the majority of people live and they are usually neither friendly nor helpful to the pro-gun cause.
Metcalf then related how important firearms are to the very core of our existence as a country. "The colonists were loyal subjects to the king, but as they became more and more oppressed, they protested more. They were being unfairly taxed and the British were legislating for them without allowing them any input. They complained a lot and they protested, but through all of this they were still loyal to the crown. Even when the king closed the port of Boston, which was economically critical to the colonists, they remained loyal British citizens."
It wasn't until April 1775 when the British marched into Lexington
and Concord that the colonists decided to make the break. "We
were loyal subjects to the king in sprite of all the hardships
he heaped upon us. But when they came to take away our guns, we
went to war."
With that, awards were presented. The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to LaPierre, a past recipient of the Gun Rights Defender of the Year Award. This year's Gun Rights Defender of the Year Award was presented to Metcalf who is retiring from Congress.
Lt. Gen. James Chambers, executive director of the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute (SAAMI), accepted the Bill of Rights Award, which was presented to the Hunting and Shooting Sports Heritage Foundation, in recognition of the important pro-gun role the industry has played in the past year. The Grass Roots Activist of the Year Award was handed to John Burtt, chairman of the Fifty Caliber Shooters Policy Institute. Doc Carlson, vice president, Washington Arms Collectors, accepted the CCRKBA Affiliate of the Year Award for a job well done.
Joe Tartaro, president of SAF, presented the Gun Rights Organization of the Year Award. "I have a presentation for a group that has already made significant impact on the firearms debate this year." With that Dianne Sawyer and Juli Bednarzyk co-foundes of the Second Amendment Sisters rose to accept. Bednarzyk saw fit to thank the three women who most influenced her pro-firearms activism. "Thank you Hillary, thank you Rosie, and thank you Donna Dees-Thomases."
Before the luncheon ended, Don Liotta and Phil Wahlbom of Marathon
USA presented some hefty checks to the Fifty Caliber Shooters
Policy Institute, Law Enforcement Alliance of America (LEAA),
Peoples Rights Organization of Ohio (PRO), Washington Arms Collectors,
10th Cavalry Gun Club, Heritage Foundation Legal Defense Fund
and the Second Amendment Coalition of Missouri,the NRA, SAF and
CCRKBA. Marathon USA is a Georgia-based company that offers long
distance phone service and donates 15% of customers' long distance
usage each month to the pro-gun organization of the customer's
September 29, 2000
September 30, 2000
October 1, 2000