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The 1989 Gun Rights Policy Conference - "our counteroffensive." (column)

The 1989 Gun Rights Policy Conference - "Our Counteroffensive"

What role should gun manufacturers and dealers play in the political - legislative struggle to preserve the right to keep and bear arms? Do they have a duty to their customers to do more than just manufacture and sell firearms?

These were a couple of the questions that drew considerable attention as many of the heavyweights of the pro-gun political movement gathered in downtown Atlanta, GA, on Oct. 7-8 for the 1989 Gun Rights Policy Conference, whose overall theme was "Our Counteroffensive."

This was the fourth annual conference sponsored by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) and the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), in conjunction with the publication, Gun Week.

Richard D. Riley, first vice president of the National Rifle Association, was on hand to deliver the "State of the Nation" address. Riley told the more than 300 people in the audience that the Constitution of the United States is under attack today and declared, "The National Rifle Association will no longer sit back and play patsy... we are fighting back!"

Following Riley's address, a panel of speakers discussed Congressional Affairs.

Emanuel Kapelsohn, executive director of the American Shooting Sports Coalition (ASSC), called the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms report used to halt the import of 43 models of semiautomatic firearms because they supposedly don't meet sporting criteria a "farce."

Kapelsohn pointed out that his group and others have encouraged people to write about their legitimate use of firearms currently being banned from import.

"Thousands and thousands of factual, intelligent letters have been generated," Kapelsohn said. "We're sorting the letters; and we're sending to H&K the letters that say, "I use an HK91 in competition."

"We're sending other similar letters to other companies so their attorneys can use these letters in their lawsuits, and a number of these companies are about to initiate lawsuits to overturn that (import) ban, if at all possible."

Later Kapelsohn urged the audience to put pressure on dealers to get politically active, declaring, "We've got a great deal of apathy among certain manufacturers and among certain gun dealers.

"In our opinion, that local gun dealer owes it to the gunowner to take a stand and be working actively on this. If you walk into your local gun store and he's got a poster tacked to the wall that says fight this legislation, that's not enough. This is his business. He ought to be handing literature to every customer who walks in."

Later, a panel discussed "Gun Owners and the Police - Holding Law Enforcement Accountable.

Dennis Martin, national president of the American Federation of Police, drew enthusiastic applause when he told the audience, "Criminals are not going to mess around with someone who has a gun and can give them the instant death penalty. Guns do seem to have a very powerful deterrent to crime."

Officer Leroy Pyle of the San Jose, CA, Police Department, pointed out, "It's not the real police officers who are campaigning for gun control." He said the police officials campaigning for gun control are those more interested in climbing the political ladder than keeping the streets safe.

One of the most emotional parts of the conference centered on those police officers who have been disciplined for their pro-gun political activities. The audience chipped in hundreds of dollars for their legal defense.

The spotlight again shifted to industry as Patrick Squire, executive vice president of Springfield Armory, Inc., and chairman of the Second Amendment Foundation's Industry Foundation Council, discussed "Getting the Shooting Industry Involved."

Squire stressed the importance of getting the industry politically involved and urged the audience to "write and call the companies - wholesale and retail - in your area."

One of the boldest plans proposed at the conference came from Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, who announced SAF would be buying media stock. "Here's the game plan," Gottlieb said. "The Second Amendment Foundation is going to tie up a substantial amount of its resources in (media) stock. We're going to encourage other gunowners to buy the same stocks that we've bought and turn their proxies over to us to vote.

"In some cases, we could actually be looking at putting people on the boards of directors. And in some cases, depending on the support from gunowners around the country who are sick and tired of being picked on, we might end up owning a few major broadcast properties."

The 1990 Gun Rights Policy Conference is tentatively scheduled for next fall in Phoenix, AZ.

Apparently, concern over major media imposing its own form of censorship isn't limited to NRA vice presidents and other speakers at pro-gun conferences. Shortly, before the Atlanta conference was held, the U.S. House voted 261 to 162 to add the Fairness Doctrine to a pending deficit reduction bill.

The doctrine, which required broadcasters who aired controversial news and public affairs programs to provide equal time for opposing viewpoints, was created by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) back in 1939.

However, the FCC abolished the doctrine in 1987, arguing that it wasn't really necessary and had a chilling effect on the material braodcasters were willing to use. Congressional action to restore the Fairness Doctrine was later vetoed by then President Reagan.

Another interesting event occurred right before the Atlanta conference. The Police Benevolent Association of Georgia and the Georgia Sport Shooting Association released the results of a poll of more than 3,000 members of law enforcement that showed strong support for the private ownership of firearms.

Some 76.5% of officers said they do not believe gun control is the best way to reduce crime, 92.5% indicated they do not think gun laws stop crimes involving guns and 91% stated they believe Americans have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

All the action hasn't been in the Deep South. Those of you in Maryland already know, the Maryland State Handgun Roster Board has approved 627 handguns for sale or manufacture in the state after Jan. 1, while tentatively rejecting 34 others.

According to initial reports, the nine-member panel has approved the vast majority of pistols and revolvers made by U.S. manufacturers, as well as popular imports. Two guns have been specifically excluded from the list and 32 others were rejected by default (in other words, they were not put on the list) - including a variety of derringers.

The two guns specifically excluded from the list were a .25-caliber and a .32-caliber semi-auto made by L.W. Seecamp Company of New Haven, CT.

The .25-caliber model is no longer made. The board claimed the 4 1/2-inch long .32-caliber was not safe enough to meet the board's requirements.

Larry W. Seecamp, owner of the company, labeled the board's action "ridiculous." Seecamp said the guns cost about $350 and are well constructed.

On another front, the European edition of the armed services newspaper, Stars & Stripes, has stopped running Ann Landers' syndicated column partly because of her stand on the gun issue and her refusal to even recognize letters she receives opposed to her position.

Finally, a new national pro-gun group called Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership has been formed with headquarters in Milwaukee, WI, to "expose the propaganda and myths used by all anti-gunners, but particularly by some Jewish anti-gunners."

PHOTO: "Criminals are not going to mess around with someone who has a gun and can give them the instant death penalty;" declared Dennis Martin, national president of the American Federation of Police.
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Author:Schneider, Jim
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:column
Date:Dec 1, 1989
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