The earth did not stop turning this morning, even though the head of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms actually did thank Democratic presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton for energizing gun owners to vote in 2016 in a press release.
It was somewhat tongue-in-cheek for CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb, who wrapped up the weekend Gun Rights Policy Conference yesterday by predicting, “Between now and November 2016, we expect Hillary Clinton to try to stigmatize and marginalize gun owners, but in fact she will energize those millions of law-abiding citizens whose votes she fears the most. That’s why we’re grateful for her campaign rhetoric.”
Today’s post-conference press release summed up the thoughts of many of the hundreds of Second Amendment activists who turned out for the 30th annual GRPC in Phoenix. Next year’s event will be held in Tampa, and by then, Gottlieb said, “if there is any apathy within the firearms community, it will have been transformed into activism.”
By contrast, current Republican front runner Donald Trump has already issued a position paper on gun rights, and despite the fact that it appears rock solid, there were some skeptics in the GRPC crowd. It’s a long time between now and November 2016, or even the Republican convention next summer, and much can change. One year in politics can be an eternity.
Trump also unveiled a tax plan detailed in today’s Seattle Times. Whatever else gun owners may be, they’re also taxpayers; the kind of people who think they know better how to spend their money than the government.
Trump might have found a lot of allies in the Phoenix group, too, especially where it comes to concealed carry. In his statement, Trump said, “The right of self-defense doesn’t stop at the end of your driveway. That’s why I have a concealed carry permit and why tens of millions of Americans do too. That permit should be valid in all 50 states. A driver’s license works in every state, so it’s common sense that a concealed carry permit should work in every state. If we can do that for driving – which is a privilege, not a right – then surely we can do that for concealed carry, which is a right, not a privilege.”
That is essentially the same sentiment a lot of speakers expressed during the weekend conference. And faced with a potential Clinton candidacy, one can safely wager that the hundreds of activists – many of whom were armed, visibly or concealed – will be encouraging their friends and fellow shooters to get involved.
Candidate Clinton could face an interesting challenge from a growing block of potential voters: gun-owning women. According to Carrie Lightfoot, owner of The Well-Armed Woman, LLC, one of Sunday morning’s speakers, “Women are coming to gun ownership in droves…this is huge and it is significant.”
She encouraged activists to “stop talking about women and start talking with women.” She was particularly critical of the Michael Bloomberg-supported Moms Demand Action group. Lightfoot suggested that they are sending an erroneous message that “we can’t take care of ourselves.”
“But that’s false,” Lightfoot maintained, and there were plenty of women in the audience to support that assertion. At the Phoenix airport this morning, Examiner chatted with one woman who attended from a southeast state, and she had to check a firearm through.
Likewise, Cheryl Todd, host of Gun Talk AZ, at KKNT radio, reminded the Sunday morning audience that they need to reach out to people who have not decided which side to take in the gun rights debate. Education, supported with anecdotal stories of “good guys with guns” might help convince unaligned voters that gun ownership is an important right to protect, she intimated.
Another voice for female shooters was Genie Jennings, a Maine activist and contributing editor to Women & Guns, a magazine published by the Second Amendment Foundation. She detailed the work that led to passage this year of so-called “constitutional carry” in Maine, which joins Arizona, Alaska and three other states where citizens can carry without a license or permit. The law takes effect in October.
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