The Bellevue, WA-based Second Amendment Foundation is observing a milestone this weekend with its 25th annual Gun Rights Policy Conference at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport hotel, Friday through Sunday.
Events kick off at 7 p.m. Friday with registration and a buffet reception co-hosted by SAF and its sister organization, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, also based in Bellevue at the Liberty Park office complex, appropriately known as the James Madison Building. Madison authored the Second Amendment.
Pre-registration for the landmark event is at an all-time high, according to SAF’s Alan Gottlieb. These events typically attract hundreds of gun rights activists, and this year is special not only for its silver anniversary, but because Gottlieb has taken the conference to “the belly of the beast.” A SAF lawsuit brought down San Francisco’s handgun ban, adopted by initiative but never enforced. It was the second time SAF had tangled with the city over a gun ban, the first time back in the 1980s when Dianne Feinstein was mayor.
On that first legal challenge, SAF acted on its own but more recently it had company, with the National Rifle Association and other plaintiffs joining in.
Gottlieb says San Francisco‘s attitude toward gun rights and the Second Amendment Foundation’s views is hostile, but he sees the group’s conference — just their second in the Bay area in 16 years — as an opportunity to support people who feel disenfranchised by local policies.—Associated Press
This weekend’s agenda is loaded, with speakers including Gottlieb, nationally-recognized self-defense expert Massad Ayoob, authors John Lott and Alan Korwin, Prof. Eugene Volokh, nationally-syndicated Gun Talk host Tom Gresham, CCRKBA Public Affairs Director John Snyder, SAF President and Gun Week Executive Editor Joe Tartaro, Gun Owners of America chief Larry Pratt, and many others. Indeed, the agenda reads like a Who’s Who of the gun rights community. This column will be reporting from San Francisco during the conference.
A highlight will be the appearance of attorney Alan Gura, who has argued both winning Second Amendment gun rights cases before the Supreme Court. He was lead attorney on the Cato Institute-inspired lawsuit that became Washington, D.C. v. Dick Anthony Heller, and he represented SAF and the Illinois State Rifle Association in their more recent victory in the case of McDonald v. City of Chicago.
Saturday’s keynote address will be delivered by former Congressman Bob Barr of Georgia during the annual awards luncheon.
Gottlieb launched the GRPC with a modest beginning, years ago in Seattle, with the idea of bringing together leaders in the gun rights movement for serious discussions and interaction on critical Second Amendment issues. From that, the GRPC has grown each year, visiting different cities around the country, including Cincinnati, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Charlotte, St. Louis, Orlando and Bellevue. It has evolved into a major gun rights event, with free admission, including a free Saturday lunch.
This year’s event has not been without controversy. SAF bought space for more than a dozen GRPC advertisements, posted in key locations around the city at transit stops. It was a clear challenge to the city’s Municipal Transit Authority prohibition on advertising that promoted the use of firearms. Fearing a First Amendment lawsuit, the MTA declined to enforce its policy, instead announcing that it would “revisit” the policy in light of SAF’s victory in the McDonald case.
The pro-gun Second Amendment Foundation said it put up the posters after hearing that a movie poster for the buddy-cop comedy ‘The Other Guys’ had to be modified because of the city’s policy. Prop guns held by stars Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg in the poster were replaced with a pepper-spray can and a badge.—Associated Press
That controversy was an advertising coup for SAF and the conference, and Gottlieb relishes the thought that this year’s event will garner huge media attention.
Now, if this year’s event isn’t controversial enough, just wait until September 2011. That’s when the 26th annual GRPC will convene in Chicago, where SAF is suing again of the city’s new gun ordinance, which is prohibitive to the point of obstruction. Gottlieb plans quite a celebration in the Windy City, commemorating the SAF/ISRA victory in the McDonald case. If San Francisco is the “belly of the beast,” surely the 2011 GRPC will convene right at the Gates of Hell.
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