The 2023 Gun Rights Policy Conference is history, and according to many who were in attendance, it was one of the best in the event’s 38-year history, with shorter list of speakers, tighter management of the clock and a range of topics to hold audience interest, including appearances by John Fund and John Lott.
Gathering at a new site in Phoenix, hundreds of Second Amendment activists in the conference hall and thousands watching from home heard reports on legal activities past, present and future, plus various perspectives on what to anticipate during the 2024 presidential election campaign.
Fund’s presentation was one of the highlights of the weekend event, zeroing in on the upcoming White House campaign.
Noting the obsession Democrats have with former President Donald Trump, who is leading in every Republican poll, Fund observed, “Love him or loath him, Donald Trump lives rent-free in the White House’s head.” It brought a loud applause and laughter from the audience.
“The most important thing you have to understand,” he said, “is almost all of the conventional wisdom about politics is wrong or incomplete.”
His biggest prediction: The 2024 election will not be a rematch between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Citing a recent CNN poll, Fund noted that 71 percent of Democratic voters “prefer another candidate.” An overwhelming majority of those voters said they want to see anyone other than Biden on the ballot. Democrats “cannot trust this man to be their presidential candidate,” he said.
Fund quoted an unidentified “leading Democratic voter” who reportedly told him about Biden, “You can now walk through his deepest thoughts and not get your ankles wet.”
Fund suggested several possible scenarios that could play out in 2024, including efforts by his own party to convince the aging president not to run for re-election. He went further, explaining what is possibly the biggest campaign dilemma facing Biden.
“Joe Biden has a problem called the Biden Crime Family,” Fund observed, “and evidence is building up over time that it’s pretty obvious that you know who ‘Mister Big’ is…”
Fund advised the audience to watch whether some powerful Democrats “start stroking their chins” and suggest that congressional hearings “might not be a bad idea, just to clear the air.” This could signal the party’s signal to Biden it is time to bow out.
“They don’t want to do it,” Fund said, “they won’t do it unless they have to, but if necessary, they will use Hunter Biden against Joe Biden.”
And then Fund offered this observation about Democrats: “These people are ruthless. They will abandon their own and feed them to the sharks if necessary.”
Fund outlined some possible scenarios for 2024, which could spell trouble for Trump. If he is the nominee, he may not be facing Biden, but some replacement Democrat.
Opening the conference, SAF President Massad Ayoob—the renowned author, firearms instructor, and self-defense expert—greeted the audience noting that sociologists say the topics of abortion and “so-called gun control” are the two most polarizing topics for any discussion in America.
“If you have chosen to arm yourself to defend yourself and your family, and protect that right for others, you can identify as pro-life and pro-choice,” he observed.
Zeroing in on the never-ending battle between Second Amendment advocates and gun prohibitionists, Ayoob noted, “Our side has won its fights with logic and application of law. The other side tends to win on emotion. These are not mutually exclusive tools. I think we should be using emotion as well.”
He stressed that if facts and laws “were not on our side, we wouldn’t have gotten as far as we already have.”
“The other side,” he said, “dances in the blood of the victims.”
Meanwhile, in the firearms community, Ayoob contended that much more attention is deserved by people who survive deadly attacks. He pointed to the media habit of providing killers with something akin to celebrity status when the media should be pointing to the survivors.
Noting that the majority of gun-related fatalities in any given year are suicides, and that they are tragedies, Ayoob said these deaths should not be lumped together with murder victims to create a dramatic number of firearms deaths.
“It is unfair to conflate that (suicide) with the murder of the innocent,” he declared.
And he also devoted many of his remarks to armed citizens, observing, “We need to remind people it’s not just about us.”
The actions of armed citizens save countless lives, he intimated, and also spare many families from the grief of losing loved ones to violent attacks because they could not defend themselves. Firearms, he said, are emergency life-saving rescue tools, and he noted that since the right of self-defense is a human right, armed citizens are “real world first responders.”
Ayoob pointed to studies that affirm some 1.67 million defensive gun uses happen each year, and well over 90 percent of these incidents “end up with no bloodshed on either side.” These cases not only involve defense against criminal attack, but also defense against wild animals, such as bears or even venomous snakes.