Wednesday, May 26, 2010

To the NRA: I Propose We Celebrate our Rights Where we can Actually Exercise Them!

While I'm sure Charlotte, NC was a beautiful location for the 2010 NRA Convention, the 2010 NRA Annual Meeting attendees who recently traveled there to celebrate the very freedom our Second Amendment protects were not actually free to exercise them. That's right, due to NC State law, convention attendees were met with Gun Free Zone signs at the doors, forcing them to either leave their guns in their hotel room if they were not unfortunate enough to have been staying at a Marriott, or leave them hidden away in their vehicles.

NC State law defines at least 10 different types of so-called "gun free zones" - places only criminals will be armed. In such government created gun free zones, all law abiding citizens are forced to become disarmed sheep ready for slaughter by any criminal armed with a knife, sword, gun, sling shot, broken bottle, or box cutters. In addition to preventing attendees from exercising their basic rights, the choice in location also provided unfortunate fodder for the anti-gun Violence Policy Center who never misses an opportunity to stretch anything they can into a far fetched lie.

Due to the fact that our freedoms are being restored throughout the United States at a rapid pace, would it be too much to ask the NRA to choose only locations for conventions where we can actually exercise our freedoms while we celebrate them? Why not reward the States with our tourist dollars that actually respect our rights? I believe the absolute minimum freedoms we should require at any location for an NRA Convention would be the freedom to bear arms openly & concealed in areas not serving alcohol, and either openly or concealed in areas where alcohol is served. I make that distinction only because some states require open carry where alcohol is served, while other states may require concealed carry in such locations.

Next year, the convention will be held in Pittsburgh, PA, a state with laws that do not create any gun free zones other than in court houses and elementary schools, which wouldn't directly impact an NRA Convention. I'm looking forward to my visit to Pittsburgh PA in 2011.

I'm a little worried however about the 2012 convention planned to take place in St. Louis, MO, as MO law defines 18 different gun free zones including bars, as well as Arenas and Stadiums seating over 5,000 people. Does a Convention Center count as an Arena if more than 5,000 people can walk in?

May I be so bold as to suggest Arizona for a return visit by a future NRA Convention? Starting on the 28th of July 2010 you won't even need a permit here to exercise your right to bear arms either concealed or openly, so long as no alcohol is served at the venue. If alcohol is served for on-site consumption, you can still carry concealed if you have a valid CCW permit issued by any State in our Country, so long as you don't drink while you carry, thanks to our restaurant carry bill that was signed into law last year.

Now that my friends, is freedom worth celebrating!


Unknown said...

I might add that you got those reforms largely after NRA held their convention there. Do you not want to afford citizens of other states the chance to show less-than-friendly politicians that we can bring money, reduce crime, and illustrate the error of their ways? You can't ignore that NRA had to get special exemptions for you to carry at the time.

Phoenix was a great convention city, and I do hope they return soon (as does everyone I know who attended). But, they also can't set records there in election years. They can do that in these other cities. Like the carry laws or not, that sends a message. (As an Arizona resident, you benefited from the message that breaking local records set, so I'm sure you can appreciate the federal message they try to send in big years.)

I'm opposed to returning to Charlotte only partially because of that issue. I think NRA had to make too many sacrifices on the facilities, so I just don't think Charlotte can work for future events.

But, to be completely honest, this post really kind of comes off as, "Hey, we got all the laws we wanted after NRA came here! That means they should come back and ditch those places that could also benefit the same way we did!"

I can see how that attitude is wonderfully helpful, especially to the NRA members in Wisconsin who used it as a rallying point for the "Dump Doyle" campaign specifically to get even basic concealed carry legislation. There are other examples of changes that happened after NRA hosted a meeting, and I don't think we should deny cities that have the facilities to hold the event the chance to reform their laws - unless they are so draconian that it interferes with the show itself or places someone who even travels in the state with a gun in danger. (aka, not Chicago or NYC)

Dustin said...

Excellent points Bitter, thanks for sharing. I still personally prefer to attend conventions where I don't have to leave my rights behind at the door.

We could even promise politicians that the NRA will bring a future convention to their State when they remove the required gun free zone. The Millions of Dollars that such a pro-freedom vote would bring to their State would be an excellent selling point.

Unknown said...

By that logic, you should have been opposed to having it in Phoenix. Until the last minute, you could not have carried your guns there. Even then, it was by temporary compromise. Are you willing to say that NRA never should have come to Phoenix in the first place?

Dustin said...

Actually yes. You might think that is odd, but we need to take a stand. Before we passed our restaurant carry law last year here in Arizona, it was required that the convention center suspend its liquor license in order to remove the State ban on guns at the convention center. I'm 100% for that. I'd be fine with the NRA selecting any State with a ban on carry in places with onsite consumption so long as they arrange to suspend the liquor license as part of the deal like they did in Phoenix. Preferably not last minute, but planned years in advance when they first select the location. For all we know, it may have been planned years in advance - perhaps they just didn't want to actually suspend it until just before the Convention. The Convention Center makes a lot of money on liquor I imagine.

I would point out however one flaw in your overall argument. You've mentioned that you believe at least part of the reason we've made so many leaps forward with the restoration of our freedoms here in Arizona is because the NRA held their convention here.

I disagree. I credit our leaps forward with the following 3 things:

1) Gun owners who vote and contact their local representatives, the NRA, the AZCDL, and a legislature controlled by 2nd Amendment supporting representatives. OK, that's four things.

Those first four things in item 1 above have been in place for quite a while, but all the good stuff getting to the Governor's desk was meeting Napolitano's Veto stamp.

2) Anti-gun Napolitano stepped down vacating her Governor seat.

3) Her replacement, Governor Brewer, supports gun rights & freedom. As such, we finally had someone to sign the good legislation that our legislators sent to her desk.

Unknown said...

So having a 65,000 person convention that perfectly illustrated the real life problems of your laws had absolutely impact whatsoever in the debate? Not a single legislator even considered it? And you're telling me that no gun owners were motivated to take action after that big rally in the state? Not a single extra phone call was made or letter written? You're sure about that?

I never said that the lobbying efforts weren't part of the change. In fact, I had a nice conversation with Arizona's very spunky lobbyist out in Charlotte about the recent changes down there. (I'd love to have him here in PA - no offense to our own - just because he could really liven the rallies up.) I also had the chance to catch up with some of the folks who made those deals to get the convention in Phoenix.

The problem is that deals that were made in Phoenix often cannot be negotiated when the site cities are selected. In some cases where they are using side facilities that aren't publicly owned, we don't even know who will own them by the time the convention is actually held. (With all the bank mergers, big businesses going under, etc. as of late, this problem is especially pronounced as of late.)

I don't hold these events as miracles, but they can play a role in helping mobilize people and providing real life examples. That's worth an effort to fix things in other states. For example, North Carolina political bloggers were telling me about some changes they can likely make to the state house in November that could facilitate more pro-gun legislation. Getting people motivated this year will help that cause. In that spirit, NRA didn't just try to rally folks, they had kiosks where people could register to vote on site.

I get where it might feel good to say that you won't compromise one bit, but I'm more interested in getting things done. I'm willing to go to these places and help rally local folks to get more involved and get them excited about the issue so that they go home and get on the phone to their lawmakers or help boot the ones who are getting in the way. I put that as a win in our column, and I'll lend a hand to my fellow gun owners in states that are less than friendly rather than leaving them hanging out the dry.

I can appreciate that you're honest about your preferences and will actually admit you would have preferred that NRA never even schedule a Phoenix event until the issue was fixed in writing. I give you credit for sticking by your principles. But I'm going to be bold here and say that I consider the position to be mighty selfish. That's my personal feeling on the outlook, and it's certainly your right to refuse to do business with anyone who asks you to give up something you don't want to give up. I'm just of the attitude that it would be a good idea to give the gun owners in those parts a helping hand when it's feasible.

Bob G. said...

Indeed it IS...!

I think it would be KISMET to hold the annual NRA convention in Fort Wayne, IN...the city that Helmke was once a mayor of...
While mayor, he allowed the entire SOUTH part of town to go to hell in a handbasket (that he no doubt weaved ever so cleverly).

Now that would be poetic justice.

Dustin said...

I don't personally put a lot of stock in the idea that many of the people too lazy to register to vote on their own when it is so very easy to do either in person while renewing vehicle registration, or by answering a few simple questions on an online form, are going to be willing to either mail in an early voting ballot or show up at their polling place to actually vote on election day.

Sure, it worked for Obama, but that is only because Micky Mouse not only registered to vote, he probably actually voted as well, with a little help from his friends at ACORN. ;)

Yes I'm sure the rally probably helped motivate some of the Arizona voters who went, but I'd venture to guess most of them were already fired up. In fact, we had already placed Restaurant Carry on Napolitano's Desk before the NRA convention even came to Arizona. However, Napolitano, as she had done many times in the past, used her VETO stamp.

I personally am still of the persuasion that using an NRA Convention as a Carrot to help persuade lawmakers to do the right thing is far more useful than getting a few lazy voters to register to vote. But I can agree to disagree.

Thanks again Bitter for the civil discussion, you have certainly discussed the opposing view in a very civil and polite manner.

Stay Safe, and I look forward to seeing you at the 2011 NRA Convention in Pittsburgh, PA!

Dustin said...

Bob, I think Indiana would be a great place to hold an NRA convention. I checked out the IN gun laws, and they don't have any gun free zones that would impact an NRA Convention. Do they have a Convention Center large enough? I found a convention center in Indianapolis IN:

Anonymous said...

The were no posted signs in St louis at the last convention

Dustin said...

Anon: Excellent news. I hope they're still down in MO in 2012.

Gregg said...

I have to throw in the B.S. flag. I too am an Arizona Resident and I know very well that we have managed to get at least one restaurant carry bill to the Governor's desk prior to the NRA convention. However, the then Governor was Janet Napolitano so she, naturally, vetoed it. In fact that was a nice clean restaurant carry bill nothing like the abomination that the NRA supported and bullied the locals into accepting. In other words, the NRA has not done people in Arizona ANY favors. In fact they have done harm. Oh, to make it clearer, the progress we have made here in AZ is not due to the NRA's help in any way shape or form.

While the NRA convention was interesting we do not need people allegedly on our side who work against us and we do not need people of your ilk in this great state. We have enough trouble from the California refugees who wish to turn our State into a mirror image of the one they fled.

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