Thousands of activist gun owners, angered over Connecticut’s Orwellian “Gun Violence Prevention and Child Safety Act,” gathered at the State Capitol in Hartford on a cooler-than-predicted Saturday in early April.
They were fed up with opportunistic politicians exploiting the Newtown tragedy at the expense of freedom, and they were furious and defiant that many owners of semiautomatic rifles and standard-capacity rifle and handgun magazines, who had defied a registration deadline, were now considered criminals.
To my surprise, I had been invited to give the keynote address. I’m not from that state and my dealings with Connecticut Citizens Defense League, the group organizing the rally, had been mostly internet-based. Perhaps one reason for the invitation was a “GUNS Magazine” column I’d written a few months earlier defending Constitution State gun owners, some of whom lined up late to register their magazines and rifles before the mandated deadline.
When I stood to speak in Hartford, what I saw was a crowd fired up and united in opposing and working to roll back the gun ban. Judging from the vocal responses, the assembled Connecticut gun owners were supportive of calls to work within the system to elect the right candidates and defeat the wrong ones, in both parties, and to appeal to the courts, as CCDL and NRA are doing in Shew v Malloy.
Also, the rally gave me a chance to learn some new things firsthand, and to reinforce some assumptions I brought to the event. Here are five areas that stand out:
- There was a happy and energetic gentleman waving an American flag behind the speakers’ podium. I found out he was an Albanian immigrant who had become a citizen, and his enthusiasm gave us the priceless reminder that freedom is a joyous thing to be celebrated.
- Members of the audience made it clear they were not going to tolerate infringements requiring them to register and/or surrender their firearms, putting state officials on notice that they had just grabbed a tiger by the tail.
- Patriots from many states and organizations showed up at the rally in support of their Connecticut brothers and sisters. Contingents from West Virginia, Mississippi, Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Jersey, and others, as well as representatives from Oath Keepers and NRA, all made the trek to New Hampshire at their own effort and expense. How different this grassroots movement is from the Bloomberg-funded, fraudulently-named “Everytown,” where people have to be transported and subsidized in order to get a handful of sign-holders, so that the media can portray shredding freedom as a populist undertaking.
- In spite of everything, the antis claim, and in spite of rally attendees showing up in various stages of anger and defiance, guns, and plenty of them, were not a problem. Many demonstrators came armed. Everyone conducted themselves peaceably, respectful of each other. Safety was the order of the day — there was certainly no sign of inappropriate activity, carelessness, negligence, or any inclination or intent to harm or victimize other human beings. That’s not the way good people act, and the presence of a tool does not change that — if anything, it makes responsible gun owners conduct themselves even more courteously. It’s the way we are.
- “Sportsmen” are patriots, too. The Venator Foundation, an affiliate of the Dallas Safari Club, generously donated two tables at their gourmet wild game dinner to CCDL volunteers. That gesture illustrates that though many of us differ in terms of our preferred guns and activities, ultimately we are on the same team. Those of us who don’t hunt need to support the rights of those who do. And vice-versa.
Now the time for sustained work is upon us, as elections draw near and an expensive lawsuit wends its way through the courts. Will gun owners everywhere realize that their shoulders are needed at the wheel?
You can view Codrea’s speech in the video players below. For other speeches, videographer Palin Smith has posted them on his You Tube channel.
Tell us what you think in the comment section.
A long-time gun rights activist and grassroots leader, David Codrea has been writing professionally on the subject of the right to keep and bear arms since 1999. Initially writing for GUNS & AMMO magazine, then moving on to HANDGUNS before spending the last eight years at GUNS, where he is a field editor producing the monthly Rights Watch column.
Codrea was named Gun Rights Defender of the Month in April, 2007 by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms for persuading the Bush administration to strike collective rights language from the Federal Register in an FAA ruling. In 2011, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Second Amendment Foundation for his groundbreaking work exposing the Fast and Furious ATF gun walking scandal, and was a co-recipient of Soldier of Fortune Magazines 2nd Amendment Freedom Fighter Award, and Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownerships David and Goliath Award for his work on that story.
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