If the crowd at yesterday’s opening session of the 30th annual Gun Rights Policy Conference in Phoenix had read the Newsmax report on speculation on Michael Bloomberg’s possible run for president as an independent, the groans might have been heard all the way to New York City.
That’s because the billionaire former Big Apple mayor’s name was used in vain numerous times by various speakers. They blasted him for using his wealth to help buy an anti-gun initiative election last year in Washington, for supporting politicians in Oregon who passed a so-called “universal background check” law in Oregon, and for supporting a similar effort in Nevada.
With a nearly standing-room-only crowd in the big ballroom at the Sheraton Crescent Hotel, Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, got in the first licks by warning the audience not to underestimate the gun prohibition lobby.
“Right now,” he said, “the other side has the dollars and they’re buying the numbers.”
Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, now campaigning for president, delivered a mid-day address that left no doubt where he stands on the Second Amendment. If elected president, he vowed, “If a piece of gun control legislation comes to my desk, I will veto it faster than it takes Hillary Clinton to delete her e-mails.”
Gilmore was the one Republican candidate not invited to participate in the CNN debate earlier this month, even to the pre-debate event with what the Washington Post called “minor candidates.” Gilmore’s bona fides as a run rights candidate are solid with the Phoenix crowd.
There was some discussion among attendees of House Speaker John Boehner’s departure during breaks in the conference program, but Bloomberg’s name seemed to be on everyone’s lips. Had the crowd known about the Bloomberg speculation, those conversations would no doubt have been far more lively.
The program yesterday included a panel of attorneys with updates on various legal actions. Since the Heller and McDonald Supreme Court rulings, the doors have opened for challenges to gun control laws across the country. Separately, attorney Alan Gura told the luncheon audience that there are still many challenges facing the Second Amendment.
Gura noted that the Supreme Court has turned down various Second Amendment cases since McDonald, and he cautioned that, “a closely divided court is an unpredictable court.” Many of those rejected cases deal with right-to-carry issues, which is a big issue with the conference crowd, many of whom were carrying sidearms under Arizona’s “constitutional carry” law requiring no permit.
The audience also heard about a new outreach effort called the Urban Initiative. SAF President Joe Tartaro and Rashad Gray, leader of the Ohio Chapter of the National African-American Gun Association, detailed the plan aimed at educating urban audiences about gun rights.
“I…represent a demographic that is necessary to the future of (gun rights),” Gray observed.
The goal is to “educate and empower Americans in cities across the United States,” he said. He as applauded when he observed that the Second Amendment applies to all citizens, regardless of race.
Later in the afternoon, Dr. John Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and author of several books, questioned the methodology of some recent studies on guns and violence. He also explained how gun laws deprive people who are most likely to be crime victims of the tools they need to defend themselves. This includes special sales taxes on guns, and adding high costs and red tape to obtaining carry permits.
The conference continues this morning, wrapping up with a noon report from the resolutions committee. On this morning’s agenda are panels discussing knife rights, self-defense for women, using media to advance gun rights, state coalition building and the 2016 elections.
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