It was the biggest “gathering” of gun rights activists in the world, according to Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, which co-sponsored the 35th annual Gun Rights Policy Conference completely online to an audience that continues to grow as more people watch it on video.
SAF brought the conference to life with the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms completely online for the first time in history.
To illustrate the overwhelming nature of the event, Gottlieb told Liberty Park Press and TheGunMag.com that more than 4,100 people had pre-registered, shattering previous records. An estimated 300,000 people viewed it during the initial weekend broadcast, and more will be tuning in because it is archived with access via the SAF website. There are hours of presentations, available by logging onto the SAF website, featuring a “Who’s Who” of gun rights leaders.
The event took on an international flair, with remarks from British radio personality Andre Walker telling viewers “Gun ownership is incredibly important in America, simply because it is a lesson about freedom, and when they attempt to take away one freedom and succeed, they come for more freedoms after that.”
And there was Mauro Silvas from Italy, discussing gun issues in the EU and around the globe.
A panel of attorneys discussed cases in progress and on the horizon, and other grassroots leaders
Viewers heard from Montana Republican U.S. Senator Steve Daines, who warned that if Republicans lose control of the Senate, “we lose our check on Nancy Pelosi’s radical, gun grabbing gun control agenda.”
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) had an equally chilling prediction if the Senate is captured by Democrats. Anti-gun Sen. Chuck Schumer will be in charge, and he will “ram through Beto O’Rourke’s plan to confiscate the guns of law-abiding citizens.”
Congressman Don Young (R-AK)—the longest-serving Republican in Congress—acknowledged, “We’re going through some strange times. You watch the riots; the people are not being prosecuted…we’re defunding the police; that’s not the America that I know.” He said there are people now serving in Congress who are Socialists, “and one of their first priorities is to take away our guns.”
Young told his audience to “Check the backgrounds of those people running for office. Don’t let them hoodwink you by saying ‘I support gun rights.’”
Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA) asserted that “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have signed off on the most radical anti-Second Amendment agenda we’ve ever seen. We know our Second Amendment rights are at stake in this election…I need you, our country needs you to be counted in this November’s election.”
Sheriff Mark Lamb of Pinal County, Ariz., told viewers, “I love the constitution and I love America and I love freedom and one of the things that protects those is the Second Amendment.”
As he cradled a semi-auto rifle on his lap, Sheriff Lamb observed, “Right now in our country were seeing some things that make the Second Amendment more relevant now than ever.”
There were panels about women and guns, and the importance of being able to defend themselves and their families.
Career journalist and Outdoor Wire editor Jim Shepherd made an observation that “embarrasses me.”
“Mainstream media doesn’t believe in the Second Amendment,” he said. “It doesn’t believe in your right to own a gun.”
He said journalism is a public trust, and contended that anyone describing a modern sporting rifle as a “machine gun” or declaring a riot to be “mostly peaceful” while standing in front of a fire “isn’t being a journalist, they’re lying to the public. Inaccuracy and lack of fairness disqualifies you from journalism.”
In the aftermath of the weekend “virtual GRPC,” Gottlieb said it may be difficult to ever do a traditional conference again, considering the massive reach the event enjoyed.
He said there were several “watch parties” attended by groups of people viewing the program on a large screen television, and it’s impossible to count the number of people who watched it that way. For sure, he said, this “virtual” event was a monumental undertaking, done with a skeleton crew with massive cooperation from all the participants who appeared.
It may signal a change in how future conferences are conducted because it appears to have had a stunning reach among the grassroots, which is what the GRPC has always been about.