Back in October, I was privileged to take my second trip to the Gun Rights Policy Conference, an annual event put on by the Second Amendment Foundation. You might recall that the 2016 Conference is what put me on a path to the United Nations and then to a keynote speech in Nuremberg, Germany. So, this event will always have a special place in my heart (but yes, there’s a “but”).
The 2017 conference was held in Dallas. In many ways, it was very similar 2016. Politics were rampant, as I expected. But sadly, once again there was just as much ad hominem democrat-bashing as objective policy discussion. There was a puff of fresh air around 4pm on Saturday (check out the full schedule here). That’s when the “Outreach” panel took the stage. The 2016 conference featured an Outreach panel too, but it kinda fell flat, IMHO. The 2017 panel featured Maj Toure, Sheneen Allen, Marcus Weldon, and Rick Ector. It was very, very interesting. I talked about that and other aspects of the 2017 GRPC in Episode 166 of the Gun Blog Variety Cast, and I might write a bit more about it here later.
For now, I’d like to reminisce on another panel from GRPC 2017. Actually, it wasn’t a panel. It was one dude. Apparently he’s a famous writer and uber gun policy expert and all that, and I probably should have heard of him before. I think he’s also a comedian of sorts, and his opening lines were pretty funny if you’re into the “screw political correctness” style of comedy. But after the ice-breaking introductory jokes, he seemed hell-bent on digging up every seed the Outreach panel had planted. His talk was entitled, “How Many People Can I Offend In 20 Minutes.”
Just kidding. Actually, it was called, “The Jihad against Your Guns.” I assumed it would focus on gun-grabbing lefty liberal tree-hugging commie baby-killing socialists, or some other such all-too-familiar refrains. But the “jihad” reference wasn’t a metaphor. He talked about jihad, like, for real. Only problem was I wasn’t quite sure if the jihad at issue was a Muslim jihad, an anti-gun jihad, or his own personal jihad.
For twenty minutes, he politely foamed at the mouth in soothing, grandfatherly verses against the whole of Islam and all Muslims, because they “want to take over the world” (Christians would never aspire to such selfish ends). He also threw in some stuff on China, and Obamacare, and communism, and something else about the wood that woodchucks chuck whenever they chuck any wood.
There were moments in the speech when I was like, “Yeah!” I’m recalling tidbits on freedom and guns preventing slavery and whatnot. He also said some stuff about the no-fly list that I think I agree with… I think? So, it’s very possible that his jihad rhetoric was a deliberately provocative play on words and the layers of sarcasm went over my primitive head. Maybe I failed to properly separate the real from the satire. That’s not a hollow placation; it’s a genuine asterisk that I very well might have missed the point. But a few times he pretty much cut to the chase about his thoughts on Islam; so if it was sarcasm, the punchline was buried deeper than my x-ray vision can penetrate.
This speech came right before the report of the GRPC Resolutions Committee, of which I was a member. One of the resolutions was all about broadening the tent, being less politically polarizing and divisive, and increasing diversity in the gun community. Of course I did cartwheels when that resolution passed. But its announcement was awkwardly juxtaposed against the “F*ck all Muslims” homily.
Fast forward a few months. Not long ago, I came across a photo. An unassuming, unadorned, unsung image from a recent handgun carry permit class. lately, I’ve been working a lot with Citizens Safety Academy in the Nashville area, and the photo came from one of CSA’s permit classes. When I saw it, all I could think of was Tony Simon’s Diversity Shoot and his damn-near tear-jerking tag line: “The Second is for Everyone.” Here’s the pic:
Dear Lady in the Hijab: Please forgive me for referencing you that way, as I don’t have your name. But I just wanted to thank you. Thanks for having the courage to invest in Second Amendment education and training, even while many 2A “advocates” are bashing Islam on the national stage. Thanks for not giving up on the gun community, even if some of its factions have given up on you. And thanks for renewing my faith that the Second Amendment really is for everybody. Keep up the great work, and I hope I’ll get to train with you sometime soon.