With President Trump in the White House, the fight for the Second Amendment is going to happen at the local level. This makes it much harder for national Second Amendment groups such as the NRA-ILA or NAGR to fight. However, we have the power of the vote and grassroots efforts such as the New Jersey Second Amendment Firearms Education (NJ SAFE). Hundreds of firearms owners and Second Amendment advocates will gather Sept. 23, 2017, in Princeton, N.J., for the third-annual NJ SAFE Conference—weeks before a Nov. 7 gubernatorial election in which candidates’ views on gun rights are center stage.
The NJ SAFE Conference, the only Second Amendment event of its type in New Jersey, is the creation of Minnesota native John Willett, who moved to New Jersey in 2003 after a stint in the U.S. Marines. Partnering with other leaders of the 2A community in New Jersey, Willett created NJ SAFE to give embattled New Jersey gun owners a place to gather, discuss their firearms enthusiasm and stay abreast of the latest state and federal laws affecting their right to bear arms.
“Every law-abiding gun owner in the country knows the dire straits New Jersey gun owners are in on a daily basis,” explains Willett, who is also creator of the Bear Arms Show. “New Jersey is a battleground state every year. But this year, we are facing the prospect of a new governor (Democrat Phil Murphy) who is vowing to sign every piece of so-called gun violence prevention legislation that Gov. (Chris) Christie vetoed. We need all hands on deck for this year’s NJ SAFE; we need to send a clear message to Trenton that we will not sit idly by while our rights are taken before our very eyes.” In addition to addressing the ramifications of the governor’s election, NJ SAFE 2017 will also address the theme of hunting and firearms sportsmanship, as Sept. 23 is National Hunting & Fishing Day.
Three classes will be held the day before the event at the same venue: NJ Self-Defense Law-Citizen Use of Force, Utah CCW, and Firearms and Mental Health. More than a dozen exhibitors, including U.S. Law Shield and the first-ever platinum sponsor Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, will be on hand to discuss firearms-related issues and equipment.
NJ SAFE 2017 will feature several returning speakers, exhibitors and sponsors including:
- NRA TV’s Cam Edwards
- Anthony Colandro, owner of the Gun For Hire range and Gun For Hire Radio
- Nationally renowned weapons rights attorney Evan Nappen
- Scott Bach, executive director, Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs
- U.S. Law Shield
“This is the first event of its kind in New Jersey,” stresses Colandro, whose Gun For Hire range in Woodland Park is expanding in 2018 and reportedly will be the largest range of its type in the country. “The closest we have ever had were a few rallies in Trenton. This is a chance for the entire 2A community to meet and show solidarity.” Being able to meet in person with 2A advocates is one of the ways NJ SAFE works to eliminate barriers to and the stigma of gun ownership.
“If your family and friends think you are weird or dangerous because you want to exercise your civil right (to own firearms), that is a lot for some people to overcome,” says Tony Simon, founder of Simon Says Train and “The 2nd is For Everyone: Diversity Shoot” held at Gun For Hire. But ultimately, “you will meet some of the greatest people in the world in this community, and I am very proud to be a part of it.” The first NJ SAFE was held in 2015 in Vineland, with about 250 attendees, exhibitors and sponsors. In 2016, the event moved to Parsippany; more than 400 people attended, most remaining despite a major power outage in the second half of the event.
NJ SAFE 2027 will be held at the Princeton Marriott at Forrestal Conference. Attendance is $20 per person; the Sept. 22 classes range in cost. To register, visit www.NJSAFECON.net.