September 29, 2000
September 30, 2000
October 1, 2000
Alan Gottlieb, as the first scheduled speaker, provided an overview of the state of the nation. While not retracing every battle the pro-gun forces have fought during the last eight years, Gottlieb acknowledged that in spite of the opposition throwing everything it could at the firearms faithful, not much was accomplished in terms of meaningful gun control.
"When you look at the Clinton/Gore Administration, anti-gun legislation, the media assaults and everything else they've thrown at us to further their agenda, we've done very well," Gottlieb said.
"If you compare our situation with that of the tobacco industry, you can see just how well we have done. The tobacco industry, with all of their billions of dollars and the millions of people who smoke cigarettes, did not fare as well as we did over the last eight years."
Gottlieb thanked grass roots activists for their role in keeping the gun grabbers at bay and for ensuring that the anti-gun crowd had no clear, concise victories. While admitting that pro-firearms forces lost out on the Brady Bill war, they did win the battle in the sense that the federal waiting period is now history and that just about everything the anti-gun forces claimed as a "win" was nothing more than symbolism over substance.
"Also, if you take a look at the 'assault weapons' ban, the other federal battle we didn't win, it sunsets in a few short years, provided that we get the right Congress elected this November. Over the last decade, a significant number of states across the nation have passed right-to-carry laws, something we pushed very heavy and won. And a lot of those states that have passed right-to-carry have also increased reciprocity. In the last two weeks, for example, Texas has now recognized Tennessee, Arkansas and Kentucky right-to-carry licenses."
In spite of the many battles the pro-firearms groups have won, Gottlieb said, it still seems like our side is constantly losing. Gunowners are under constant attack in such places as Chicago, New York City and Washington D.C. The media is a never ending fount of vitriol when it comes to addressing the firearms issue and the right to bear arms. "But in spite of what the media has thrown at us, nothing has stuck," declared Gottlieb. "Take a look at the public opinion polls post-Columbine. They show a 2% support level higher than pre-Columbine for the right to keep and bear arms."
The many assaults on Americans' fundamental firearms rights has had the opposite effect of what the anti-groups would have expected, Gottlieb said. The number of members in and supporting gun groups is at an all-time high. He attributed the strength and success of these groups to the way the grass roots movement has become more sophisticated and better trained. But he also cautioned that the other side is not sitting idly by. "We need to learn to think outside the box as the other side has. We have to change the way we phrase our terminology and how we work."
By thinking outside the box, the gun grabbers have taken gun
control to a new level by calling for safety measures. Gottlieb
called it the classic bait and switch.
Joseph P. Tartaro
Following Gottlieb, Joseph P. Tartaro, president of SAF and editor of The New Gun Week, outlined a myriad of opportunities the pro-gun corps can use to fight the forces of the gun-grabbing bandits. Taking note that the crowd attending the GRPC had many more women and young people than in years past, Tartaro praised the emergence of the Second Amendment Sisters (SAS).
SAS provided the pro-firearms side with a unique and highly effective opportunity to counteract the "Million" Mom March, he said. The so-called million moms never amounted to anymore than 100,000-if that. Members of SAS, being mothers, gunowners, concerned housewives and professional women, didn't buy the $4 million hype, nor the media's adoration of the bogus march.
"They did something about it," said Tartaro. "And what they did was significant. It changed the playing field as far as the 'million' moms went. The moms couldn't control the media and couldn't control the mood. The Second Amendment Sisters got our side of the story out. The Second Amendment Sisters are a prime example of how individual gunowners all around the country are responding to the threat they see. As we come into the 21th century, we're reaching an era of opportunity. The gun issue and any other public policy issue is decided not at the extremes at either end but by the people in the middle," he said.
As the nation goes digital and wireless technology evolves even further, the opportunities offered by the future may be unlimited. Tartaro told the firearms enthusiasts that how gunowners and the firearms industry take advantage of the technological revolution is going to determine to a great extent the future of firearms ownership in America.
"We have to find the most effective ways of using this technology, especially when the other side is taking advantage of it. The Democratic National Committee is setting up e-precincts, encouraging people to become e-precinct captains. They are creating electronic constituencies that will be led by particular coordinators to keep their message up. This is extremely important now that we are already experimenting with electronic voting by computer."
As we travel faster and further into the 21st century, the
government will also take advantage of the new technology. They
already have the capability to exploit cell phones and "V"
chips and the FBI's controversial "Carnivore" e-mail
tapping system has both conservatives and liberals feeling uneasy.
But, as Tartaro explained, this is all the more reason for Second
Amendment supporters to embrace the new age and profit from its
"If Gore wins. You lose," shouted John Snyder, public affairs director of CCRKBA, immediately following Tartaro. A few "amens" erupted from the audience.
"If Gore wins, America loses," Snyder continued in moderating the Federal Affairs Briefing panel that included Lt. Gen. James Chambers (SAAMI), Ted Deeds (LEAA), John Velleco (GOA) and Neal Knox of the Firearms Coalition.
"If Gore wins, the horrendous gun-grabbing legislative attacks spearheaded by the Clinton/Gore Administration will continue and increase." Snyder, never one to mince words or sugarcoat an issue, expressed his personal gratification at being able to spend the last quarter century speaking out on gun rights issues. But he admitted that the last eight years have been the most difficult in his crusade.
"If this regime continues, and it will under a Gore/Lieberman Administration, the political attacks on our civil rights might be so sustained and so severe, as to be irreversible," Snyder said.
"Gore the Bore," as Snyder referred to the Vice President, has made no pretense to what he would do if he attains the White House. You can expect handgun licensing, a ban on handguns he determines are "junk," limited firearms sales, a national three-day waiting period, legal attacks on firearms manufacturers and a host of other anti-rights measures. Snyder explained how "Gore the Bore" has become a chameleon, doing whatever it takes to get the vote and grab political power. As a senator, Gore supported the Gun Owners Protection Act and opposed a national 14-day waiting period for handgun purchases. Then when he became Vice President, "Flipper Gore" did a 180 on the gun issue and became a national poster boy for "Gun Grabbers Inc."
"As President of the Senate, he cast the tie-breaking
vote (in 1999) in favor of the infamous Lautenberg Amendment to
a proposed Juvenile Justice Bill," asserted Snyder.
Lt. Gen. Chambers
Snyder then introduced Chambers, a retired Air Force general and executive director of SAAMI. Chambers didn't see much difference between the wars he fought in the past and the current battle for gun rights.
"I've spent over 35 years in the Air Force and during those years, I've faced the enemy. They were dangerous, malicious, prone to fabrication, devious and above all immoral. As a civilian, I face an enemy with those same characteristics. I join this fight willing and able to carry it to its logical conclusion, which is victory for all law-abiding gunowners and Second Amendment rights believers."
Chambers discussed some of the laws several states have passed
that have curtailed the rights of gunowners and punished gun manufacturers.
He discussed S-15 signed into law by California Gov. Gray Davis
that goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2001. This bill was a collaboration
between a liberal state senator and Handgun Control Inc. It basically
forces safety standards on firearms that can be sold in California,
but the standards are all but impossible to meet, which would
have the effect of banning handguns in the state. In order to
be sold, three handguns of the same model must be presented to
a Department of Justice laboratory for testing and certification.
Another bill set to go into effect on the first of next year would
require safety devices to be included with each sale of a firearm.
safety devices would also have to be approved and certified by the state's Department of Justice labs.
He also brought up S-23 in California, the "assault weapons" ban that went into effect on the first day of year 2000. "It allows each jurisdiction in the state to make its own determination of what is an 'assault weapon.' While one jurisdiction in the southern part of the state might give you authority to sell a firearm as a non-'assault weapon,' you may find yourself in violation in San Francisco with the same gun."
Chambers also spoke about S-211 in Maryland, which requires a manufacturer to fire a test round, capture the spent case and identify it as coming from that particular arm. It must then be sealed in a container and included in the box with the gun to be sold. When the gun is sold, the dealer must send the sealed container with the empty casing to the Maryland State Police, where it will become part of a digital data base. The cost in terms of money and manpower for manufacturers to abide by this law make it nearly impossible to comply, Chambers said. Similar laws are going into effect in New York and Massachusetts.
"This is a proliferation I fear will continue," grieved Chambers. "If it does continue, you'll find the firearms manufacturer having to present three items of one model to 50 states to run through the tests at great cost. To sell a firearm in the United States, it will cost the manufacturer $100,000 per model."
Ted Deeds, chief operating officer of LEAA, followed Chambers with a different take on the issues at hand. He emphasized that law enforcement and the average citizen both suffer from the ramifications of gun control. LEAA and the NRA are fighting the government violations of privacy in court over illegal records retention and the National Instant Check System (NICS). Deeds pointed out that a couple of the Jane and John Does from these lawsuits were actually sitting in the audience.
Deeds also addressed one of the major misconceptions that many people have about law enforcement and firearms ownership. "It's the traditional misrepresentation that rank and file cops don't support the Second Amendment. I spend a lot of time and energy explaining why that's not true," said Deeds.
As he explained, many of the major police organizations, especially those with unions, have been nothing more than lap dogs for the Clinton/Gore Administration. Not long ago, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the largest police union in the country, unanimously decided to support Gore for president. The FOP executive council ratified a Gore endorsement, but unrest erupted among the rank and file of FOP.
"For the first time, rank and file members, through their election process and through their trustees sent a message to the Grand National Lodge of the FOP, and basically said you endorse Gore over our dead bodies. And the grand national lodge of the national FOP, in what we are terming a stunning reversal, came out and endorsed George Bush."
This was good news, Deeds observed, but unfortunately the media decided not to let the public know. LEAA, through media research, found that there is a 10 to 1 disparity in reporting. "When a police organization comes out for Al Gore, it's all over the front page. When a major police organization, that has been in bed with the Administration, breaks away and comes over to our side, we get absolutely no press whatsoever."
Deeds alerted the audience to the importance of the getting
Bush elected, not only for the change in the White House, but
also for the change it would have on the courts.
John Velleco, media director for Gun Owners of America, retrieved the microphone from Deeds and quickly asked why gunowners are always on the defensive when they have facts and accurate, scholarly studies to support the right to carry and bear arms.
"People like John Lott, Gary Kleck and Dave Kopel have given us enough facts and evidence to destroy any argument the anti-gunner can come up with. Contrast that with the lack of serious scholarship from the other side," Velleco said.
So, why are the gun grabbers the ones gaining ground? Velleco cites three possible reasons: biased media; ultra liberal college professors who don't teach the Constitution, and the breakdown of the American family. The anti-gunners also have mastered the 10-second sound bite where mere rhetoric is seen by the public as unassailable truth.
"They are winning not because of facts, but because of mere words. The most insidious danger of anti-gun terms terms is their use by the pro-gunners, Velleco warned. "When gun grabbers talk about keeping felons from getting guns by banning them we should simply say something like, 'If such a proposal was constitutional, which it is not, it is ridiculous because less than 1% of all guns will ever be used in a crime, yet your proposals will affect 100% of law-abiding.' "
Velleco said the talk about licensing gunowners is no longer talk, but a reality. He lamented that the license required to carry is more than it seems. "I don't mean to step on any toes, but the ACLU would never accept First Amendment licenses, then neither should we accept them for the Second Amendment."
Neal Knox, executive director, of the Firearms Coalition, echoed Velleco's concerns about the other side's lack of common sense. "This is a critical battle. This is not a battle about us going duck hunting and we need to let the people know that. The gun confiscation lobby never cares anything about sensible. They don't care about reasonable because they only have one thing in mind and that's to get our guns."
Knox also brought up an aspect of the recent attempts to pass oppressive gun laws that no one has yet addressed. He told listeners that Clinton really didn't want the juvenile possession, the trigger lock or magazine restriction laws to pass because he wanted these issues to beat the Republicans and especially the gun groups over the head with. Knox said that he didn't think there was a chance of any Brady amendments going anywhere because, "Al Gore doesn't want it elevated in the battleground states. But I feel that the congressional election can go either way. Most likely, I think we are going to see a couple of seats change either way in the House. Maybe one or two losses in the Senate."
As a lifelong warrior for gun rights, Knox admitted that he's one of the old guard and it is time for the younger generation to get involved. "I challenge the two-thirds of you who are younger than I am to get out there and bust your butts to get your people registered to vote and get them to the polls. The battles that we are talking about today are going to be won or lost on Nov. 7."
September 29, 2000
September 30, 2000
October 1, 2000