Gun Rights Gathering Presents United Front

By Chris Knox

Gun Rights Policy Conference
2015 Gun Rights Policy Conference

Buckeye, AZ –-( Phoenix, Arizona, the capitol city of arguably the most “gun-friendly” state in the nation, played host last week to the country’s largest annual gathering of organizations and individuals committed to defense of the Second Amendment: the 30th Annual Gun Rights Policy Conference. (GRPC)

As brother Jeff mentioned in his presentation, somebody named Knox has spoken at almost every one of these conferences for the past 30 years, beginning with our father, Neal Knox, at the first one in 1985. Jeff joined Dad on the speaker roster 10 years later, and I have been honored to present or serve in other capacities in recent years.

One highlight of this year’s event was when Republican presidential candidate, former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore ( ), addressed the crowd during the luncheon. Governor Gilmore spent the whole morning at the conference, listening to presentations and mingling with attendees in the front hall.

What’s particularly noteworthy about this is that there were no uniformed police or security guards to be found anywhere around the conference, aside from the regular hotel guys, but there were hundreds of armed citizens, some carrying openly, some carrying discreetly.

Arizona is a “Constitutional Carry” state, meaning that anyone who is not prohibited from possessing a gun is free to carry it, openly or concealed, just about anywhere they choose, no license, permit, or government permission slip required. Hundreds of the GRPC attendees were freely exercising that right, and it was refreshing to see this candidate for President of the United States standing in their midst shaking hands and chatting with strangers who had Glocks, Kimbers, and Colts visible on their hips.

Sponsored by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and its sister organization the Second Amendment Foundation, the conference is a great event that has earned significant stature within the rights movement. Even though the Internet has sped up the communication of ideas, there’s nothing like getting face-to-face with other activists to build rapport and cooperation. It is an energizing exercise in using the First Amendment to defend the Second, and anyone involved or interested in this fight should make it a point to attend. The GRPC is held every year in a different city during the last weekend in September. Next year’s event will be held in Tampa, Florida.

In addition to being a networking, idea sharing, and cross-pollination venue, GRPC is also an opportunity to take the temperature of the movement. It’s an opportunity not only to hear what people and organizations from around the country have to say, but also to see who they are and what they do, and to meet and chat with the real “gun lobby,” the guys who pay their membership dues, write the $20 checks, work the recruiting and information booths at gun shows, and take their neighbors out to the range.

Unlike the Astroturf activists hired or created by Mike Bloomberg and the Brady Bunch, the “gun lobby” is a true grassroots movement made up of millions of dedicated volunteers.

Even most of the leaders of the movement are volunteers who do their lobbying and organizing on a part-time basis during their off-hours from regular jobs. Among those who do get a paycheck, most, including brother Jeff, are earning well below their potential because they are deeply committed to the cause.

There was little evidence of the much-reviled “corporate gun lobby” at the event. While the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the industry, sent a speaker, as did the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute, and some companies helped underwrite the event by sponsoring coffee and snacks, no one could realistically accuse the gathering of shilling for the gun industry. Alan Gottlieb, founder and President of SAF and CCRKBA respectively, and Larry Pratt, Executive Director of Gun Owners of America, both spoke and were well-received, but the National Rifle Association, which was a regular participant in the conference for its first two decades, had no official presence this year. NRA has tended to skip the conference completely in recent years amid criticism from attendees about what they considered NRA’s wishy-washy approach.

Those who think NRA is hard-line have never been to a GRPC.

Bogus National Association for Gun Rights MIA

Another group that was conspicuous by their absence was the National Association for Gun Rights, or NAGR. This organization has been frustrating rights activists for the past decade with their heavy, direct mail, “the sky is falling” fundraising tactics, raising millions of dollars from gun owners, while doing little of note in the actual fight. Several of the more than 70 presenters at the conference took an opportunity to take a swipe at the group, and those jabs received applause from the attendees

Finally, it’s worth mentioning another absence at this year’s GRPC. Absent was the idea of “preemptive concession.” Last year’s GRPC exposed a significant divide between Second Amendment supporters, some of whom suggested that we couldn’t win fights against state-level bans on private firearm transfers, and should therefore get a seat at the table to have some say in the crafting of the inevitable legislation.

Others (brother Jeff and myself included) saw that approach as an abandonment of principle. As our late father, Neal Knox often said, “Never give away what the other side is not big enough to take.” The controversy was reported in the lamestream media as though fistfights had broken out during the GRPC, when in reality, it was a civil, if sometimes heated discussion among friends. There was none of that at this year’s conference. The unifying strategy is to meet force with force, and if we lose, to make cost the other side enough that they think twice before “winning” again.

In 2015 with a presidential election and disturbing ballot initiatives to criminalize person-to-person firearm transfers in several states pending, serious concerns remain, but the GRPC as a body presented a remarkably united front.

Hopefully as we continue to 2016, the gun rights movement will be able to capitalize on this unity.

The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition is a project of Neal Knox Associates, Manassas, VA. Visit:

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

“Preemptive concession.” An interesting term that seems to capture the concept well. I’ve gradually approached the “Screw-You!” camp. I think that the PotG are very slowly and gradually gaining ground. Moreover, I think the careful invocation of the “Screw-You!” meme can be made to work in our favor by capturing the attention of the gun-control sympathetic voter not entirely committed to the Anti meme. That said, we should not eschew use of ANY tactic that might be useful to us. When push comes to shove in a smoke-filled legislative committee room we should think about trading concession A for B… Read more »


You make a good point, but it still feels like surrender. The 2nd Amendment is very clear as far as I am concerned, so giving up is not an option. Remember who you are bargaining with, give an inch and they will take a Constitution.
No Surrender, No Retreat.


BS. Those who wish to compromise their God given right to self defense, and/or self determination, both of which are backed up by the Second Amendment, have the option to do so. They do NOT have the option to do so for anyone else. Ben Franklin said it best: “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote.” I would say Ol’ Ben was a pretty good fortune teller… If you wish to compromise your Liberty and the means of its safekeeping, that’s your choice. As… Read more »


What a load of crap. NAGR has done more to advance and defend gun rights in this nation than all other gun rights groups combined. They more than doubled the efforts of the NRA during the Toomey-Manchin fight. They also were integral in pushing through Constitutional Carry in Maine and Kansas.


Baloney. Dudley Brown is out for Dudley Brown, period. He has promoted false scenarios of impending anti-gun legislation in Florida where none existed and flooded the State saying if you didn’t give money now that legislation was going to be passed. Not one cent to NAGR or their shell companies.


Baloney. Not one cent to Dudley Brown.

Bob Sadtler


A few years back, NAGR had a presence at the Va. General Assembly. Their daily “updates” were SO WRONG and so wildly inflammatory that Va. Citizens Defense League (a REAL gun owners’ rights group!) President Philip Van Cleave (a true gun owners’ rights champion!) had to waste valuable time putting out numerous email alerts, CORRECTING the either blatant or incompetent misinformation Coming from NAGR Va.

Funny thing, the next year, NAGR was GONE, zero presence at the GA. They have not reappeared since, and Va. gun owners are better off for it.