Last week, our friends at the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) issued an important invitation to gun rights activists nationwide: To make their voices heard at the 2020 virtual Gun Rights Policy Conference (GRPC). American gun-rights activists RSVP’d “YES” by the hundreds of thousands, absolutely shattering all previous GRPC attendance records. “It was the biggest gathering of gun rights activists in the world,” said Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation.
Necessity, the mother of innovation
The event was held entirely online this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but what started off as a “make-do” substitute for in-person gathering just might evolve into the way activism is done in the future. GRPC was viewed by well over 300,000 gun rights activists across the country on multiple platforms, and more than 4,100 people pre-registered for the event. Although there’s no way to get an exact count of how many people actually watched–several groups held “watch parties” on large screens–the fact is that because it’s a virtual event, it’s not really “over,” per se.
The GRPC program appeared as a live Facebook event, and the videos remain available for anyone to watch and enjoy…and they are still watching and enjoying it. In fact, if you missed GRPC, you can catch up at your leisure by checking out the videos by visiting the SAF website or YouTube.
“It may be difficult to return to our traditional in-person conference format…”
One of the best ways to prove the dedication of Second Amendment activists is that we are very, very good about showing up to be seen and heard in peaceful demonstrations. We don’t require a paycheck to do so, nor do we demand that we be bussed in and given pre-made protest signs (as the anti-gun “protestors” always seem to do). Now, we’re seeing just how huge the response is when those same activists don’t have to take vacation days and arrange for travel and hotel fees.
“We had 25 percent more speakers than usual,” Gottlieb revealed, “and much more content. It may be very difficult to return to our traditional in-person conference format, and we will be evaluating how to do it bigger and better next year and in the years ahead.”
There were about 120 speakers covering topics from state legislative affairs to the growing interest in firearms ownership by women. Several attorneys specializing in Second Amendment cases weighed in with reports on what has been happening, and what may be on the horizon. Several journalists, radio talk hosts and bloggers offered suggestions on how grassroots activists could cultivate better relations with the media, and there were discussions about invasive gun control and gun rights internationally.
Members of Congress and the U.S. Senate made special appearances, and there were also presentations on the growth of gun ownership in the LBGTQ community.
Keeping the momentum going
Gottlieb credited people’s alarm for their personal safety over efforts to defund police, riots, looting and the Democrats’ push for more extremist gun control for this year’s increased attendance and participation.
“I am simply overwhelmed at the support, participation and involvement in the upcoming election this year,” he concluded. “It was an exhausting and humbling experience, and my hat is off to all of those who joined us remotely and made this year’s GRPC a success.”