Alan Gottlieb had read a pre-publication copy of The Great New Orleans Gun Grab, which I co-authored with Todd Masson, editor of Louisiana Sportsman, North Carolina Sportsman, South Carolina Sportsman and Mississippi Sportsman magazines. Gottlieb wanted to invite us to speak at the 22nd annual Gun Rights Policy Conference to be held in Ft. Mitchell, Ky., in October.
Gottlieb obtained my number from the publisher, and he called to invite me.
"We can only give you 15 minutes," he said, "but it will be 15 minutes before 400 of the most influential gun policy rights people in the country."
Gottlieb has a flair for understatement. Our publisher agreed the invitation was just too important to pass up and agreed to fly one of us to Ohio. Due to deadline considerations of his magazines, Masson was unable to make the trip, so I was the lucky beneficiary.
Upon arriving in Ft. Mitchell, I went to the Friday evening conference registration and buffet meal. I was surprised to see several hundred people milling around several large tables of food that was constantly replenished by staff. I found Gottlieb and introduced myself, commenting on the number of people present.
"There'll be more tomorrow," he said. "We've got about 800 people registered for at least part of the conference. Rep. Ron Paul is a presidential candidate and will speak to us tomorrow evening. A lot of people are coming to hear him. It'll be a full house tomorrow."
At 7:30 the next morning, a buffet breakfast was sponsored by Women & Guns Magazine, a publication of the SAF. Upon entering the huge conference room, I was astounded to see dozens of rows of tables and portable chairs, hundreds of them, each with its own double stack of books, each at least 18 inches high. It was a bibliophile's dream - particularly if he was a book lover with a penchant for guns.
There were hardbound and soft cover books from numerous authors in the firearms policy field - John Lott, David Kopel, Dave Workman, Gottlieb and many others. The retail prices of the books easily reached between $200 and $300, and they were free to each registered participant. Clearly, this conference was not about raising money; it was about raising the collective consciousness of the participants on firearms activism.
The list of speakers was a Who's Who of gun activism. David Kopel, attorney and research director of the Independence Institute, and a noted Second Amendment scholar, was there. I have had a copy of his seminal book on the ineffectiveness of gun-control laws in other countries on my bookshelf for years. I consider The Samurai, The Mountie, and the Cowboy to be absolutely necessary reading for anyone interested in the battle to protect our Second Amendment rights.
Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, Joseph Tartaro, editor of Gun Week Magazine, the Second Amendment Sisters, the National Shooting Sports Foundation - it was enough to make your head swim. This was truly a convention for the most important people and organizations in the gun-rights movement today.
Lott was also on the agenda. His book More Guns, Less Crime has been one of the most effective arguments ever published against more-restrictive gun legislation, and has been one of the most quoted studies on the subject. Lott is a respected economist and statistician, and applied these particular fields of study to examining crime rates in every county in the United States. His determination that "shall-issue" concealed-carry laws caused crime to drop ignited a firestorm of controversy when it came out. His findings and his statistical methodology have been impossible to disprove, and the book has been hailed as proof that gun-control laws do not work.
Wayne LaPierre, executive vice-president of the NRA, was supposed to be the featured speaker immediately before lunch, but he had taken ill and was unable to attend. Lott ably filled the time talking about his books and methodology.
Also in attendance were Robert A. Levy and Alan Gura, co-counsels in Parker vs. District of Columbia. Gura and Levy sued the District of Columbia for violating the Constitution with the most restrictive gun-control laws in the nation. It was illegal, for instance, to even have a gun in your house unless it was disassembled or locked up, and it was illegal to carry from room to room, unless it remained in that condition.
Gura and Levy sued in U.S. District Court, asking for relief from D.C.'s draconian gun-control laws for six complainants, all of whom wanted to have long guns and handguns in their homes for self-defense without having to keep them unloaded and disassembled or locked with a mechanism to render them inoperable.
Two of three judges found for the complainants, thus calling the gun laws of D.C. too restrictive and unconstitutional. This led to an appeal by D.C. to the United States Supreme Court. Gura and Levy will argue the case before the Supreme Court, the first time in the history of the United States the issue of the individual right of firearms ownership under the Second Amendment will have ever been heard by the court.
Of course, if the court refuses to hear the case, the finding against D.C. stands, throws out their laws and powerfully strengthens legal arguments against similarly restrictive municipal and state laws on firearms ownership across the country.
If, as is expected, the Supreme Court does elect to hear the case, it could mean far-reaching implications for gun ownership everywhere in the U.S. If the court finds the right to bear arms as an individual right as has been determined in practically every court case where such a legal issue has been argued, it could trash every restrictive gun law in the nation.
Gura and Levy were eagerly anticipated speakers, and they updated the audience with the actions taken so far, and what they expected to happen with the appeal.
Gura and his firm maintain a website to update interested readers on the D.C. case. It can be found at www.gurapossessky.com/news/parker.
It would take a column three times the size of this one to describe all the speakers and the subjects on gun-rights activism at this conference. Of note would be authors like Clayton Cramer (Armed America and other gun-rights books). Cramer was given the SAF's James Madison award for outstanding communications efforts in the gun-rights battle.
Also a number of legislators from both state and congressional level were on hand and on the agenda, affirming their support for the right to keep and bear arms.
Of particular interest was a gentleman named Tony Bernardo, a Canadian and a professional lobbyist. Executive director of the Canadian Institute for Legislative Action and representing the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, he spoke intensely and fervently on the restrictive gun ownership laws in Canada, and how fortunate we here in the United States are to have a Bill of Rights guaranteeing our right to keep and bear arms, and to have organizations like the SAF, the NRA, GOA and others to constantly man the battlements in the fight to keep these rights.
I left Ohio on Sunday, my head swimming with the almost overload of information I had attempted to remember, and my luggage bulging with books on the Second Amendment, shooting and self-defense - a veritable library of gun books, and it was all free.
But what I gained most out of this conference was this: The fight to end our constitutionally guaranteed right to own firearms has never been more heated or dangerous. And it is well and truly being fought on many fronts by dedicated and motivated individuals from all walks of life who share one common goal - retaining our rights to firearms as stated by the Bill of Rights to the Constitution.
The Gun Rights Policy Conference is an important gathering of the minds for the people involved in this battle. Next year's conference will be in Arizona. It would make a great family vacation, and you would see a stirring example of democracy at work.
Gordon Hutchinson's newest book, written with co-author Todd Masson, is an expose' of the gun confiscation scandal in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The Great New Orleans Gun Grab is available at www.neworleansgungrab.com.
Hutchinson's first book, The Quest and the Quarry, is a generational tale that parallels the lives of a line of trophy bucks and the youth of a farming family and their hunts for them. It was chosen as a Book of the Year by the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the quest for a trophy buck. It can be ordered at thequestandthequarry.com. Both books can also be ordered by calling (800) 538-4355.
Both books can also be ordered by calling (800) 538-4355.