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Gun Rights Policy Conference (GRPC)

From Guns in American Society: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, Culture and the Law (Gregg Lee Carter ed., ABC-CLIO 2002).

The Gun Rights Policy Conference (GRPC) is an annual three-day meeting held every fall, usually in September, by the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA). The GRPC is an important tool for educating and training grassroots Second Amendment activists, and for networking within the Second Amendment movement.

Every year, the GRPC site moves, usually alternating between east and west. A particular city is often selected because holding the conference there will facilitate the progress of already-active gun rights groups in the area. For example, Seattle (1998) and St. Louis (1999) were host cities shortly after their states held ballot votes on gun laws.

Speakers at the conferences include: U.S. Senators and Representatives (such as Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell and Rep. Bob Barr), other elected officials, media personalities, officials from the NRA, leaders of local gun rights groups, leaders of the firearms industry, attorneys, scholars, activists, representatives of civil liberties organizations which seek to work with gun owners (such as the American Civil Liberties Union, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers) -- and of course staff from SAF and CCRKBA.

Attendance is usually about 400 people, some of whom travel cross-country for every annual meeting. Attendees must pay for their own travel and lodging, but the conference itself is free, and the attendees receive large packets of books and other materials.

The formal program of speakers aims to improve both the policy knowledge and the political/communication skills of the audience. In addition, a great deal of networking and exchanging of ideas takes place at receptions and in the hallways.

The GRPC was first held in Seattle in 1985. Firearms manufacturers and other companies in the firearms business provide financial support for the event, as do national, state and local gun rights organizations.

The GRPC is much smaller than the annual convention of the National Rifle Association and the annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trades Show (SHOT Show), both of which draw tens of thousands of people. But at the NRA Convention and the SHOT Show, political and policy forums are relatively small parts of much bigger events. In contrast, the GRPC is tightly focused, and the only people who attend are persons with a high level of interest in Second Amendment activism. Thus, the GRPC is the largest policy-only meeting for gun rights activists. Over the years, the GRPC has developed into an important tool for promoting activist success.

In recent years, some anti-gun groups have attempted to create their own events similar to the GRPC.

For more information: Second Amendment Foundation website, http://www.saf.org

 

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