25th Annual Gun Rights Policy Conference
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The winds of change blew through the Windy City as hundreds of hardcore gun rights activists gathered for one of the most intense and, by many accounts, most rewarding Gun Rights Policy Conferences (GRPC) in recent memory.
“The gun rights movement knows where it’s going. The roadmap is in the (GRPC) agenda.”
Thanks to an agenda that opened with a bang and closed on a lightning rod subject, nobody was bored as panel after panel, speaker after speaker offered perspectives on everything from the importance of federal court appointments to Operation Fast and Furious and open carry.
Traditional opening remarks by Alan Gottlieb, founder and Executive Vice President of the Second Amendment Foundation, and SAF President Joe Tartaro paved the way for a presentation by Tucson, AZ attorney Sandra Froman, past president of the National Rifle Association (NRA). Chicago was specifically chosen for this 26th annual conference because, according to Gottlieb, it constitutes the “belly of the beast,” and the focus of last year’s landmark Supreme Court ruling that incorporated the Second Amendment to the states.
Tartaro compared Chicago to a feudal government controlled by the power of one party, which not only wants to control the city, but the entire state. He blamed Chicago politicians for blocking concealed carry legislation in the state legislature earlier this year, and predicted that eventually, such a measure will be adopted in the Prairie State.
He noted that one lawsuit against the city already forced Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city council to re-write their post-McDonald decision gun ordinance.
Tartaro discussed adoption of a concealed carry statute in Wisconsin, leaving Illinois as the final holdout on carry prohibition. On top of that, two more states allow the legal use of suppressors, and Ohio’s Supreme Court upheld the state’s preemption statute, he noted.
Gottlieb said the GRPC was in Chicago to extend freedom. He told the audience that the gun rights movement must be modeled after the larger civil rights movement. According to Gottlieb, the gun rights movement is the single largest grassroots movement in the country.
“The gun rights movement knows where it’s going,” Gottlieb said. “The roadmap is in the (GRPC) agenda.”
Gottlieb said judges are important, even though the road ahead for gun rights has “two new guardrails,” in the McDonald and Heller cases, he said the movement still must win many more court battles to restore rights and move forward.
He further warned about looming United Nations activities regarding international gun control, which would violate our constitution. Gottlieb also cautioned the audience about Obama administration attempts to use government agencies to push a gun control agenda through the political back door.
Tartaro and Gottlieb were followed immediately by Froman, whose perspective on the 2012 elections is uniquely focused on how election outcomes influence the legal system. The president appoints federal judges and the Senate confirms them, she noted, so it is important for gunowners to vote, as a means of exerting some control over the process.
She told the audience that people camouflage their apathy by claiming they have no influence so they don’t vote and don’t participate, but sit at home and criticize the process.
“You can’t be patriotic if you’re apathetic about what happens to your country,” she said. “Elections matter and nowhere do they matter more than to the gun rights movement…It matters a lot who we choose.”
She said the real danger to our rights and freedoms are the officials people don’t elect: federal judges.
Quoting Judge Alex Kozinsky of the 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco, Froman reminded the audience that “The Second Amendment is a ‘doomsday provision,’ one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights fail.”
Froman noted that President George Bush appointed Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, which became crucial during both the Heller and McDonald deliberations. Conversely, President Barack Obama has appointed two anti-gun justices, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
Because Heller and McDonald were decided on narrow 5-4 margins, a change in the current court balance could jeopardize the Second Amendment, Froman warmed.
But lower court appointments are also important, perhaps moreso than high court appointments. The Supreme Court takes about one percent of cases that are offered for high court consideration, meaning that the majority of cases are decided at the lower court level. All of these appointments are for life, and their rulings last longer and have great impact on the lives of individual citizens.
“When you vote in November, you won’t be just voting for a president or senator,” she said, “you’ll be electing those who select your federal court jurists who will make the law that you will live under for the rest of your life. When you vote in November you’ll be voting for your own future and the future of your children and your grandchildren.”
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