"Gun Safety" group holds convention, but the public isn't invited

"Gun Safety" group holds convention, but the public isn't invited

I do my best to stay abreast of the doings of the various groups inside the gun control lobby, but I have to admit I had no idea that Gun Owners for Safety was holding an actual convention this week. In fact, I was only vaguely aware that Gun Owners for Safety, which is a project of the gun control group Giffords, existed.

The brand has been around since 2020, but it doesn’t seem to be one of the group’s major campaigns, at least to date. In fact, Giffords was awfully low-key about their recent Gun Owners for Safety convention; so low in fact that their convention was apparently closed to any and all curious gun owners who might have shown up uninvited or unannounced if they’d known about it.

Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was in Minneapolis Thursday speaking to a small group of gun owners from across the U,S. about gun reform.

The event was closed to the public, as the nationally known gun safety advocate hosted supporters of the Giffords organization for the inaugural Gun Owners for Safety convention.

Giffords, who still struggles with speech and mobility following the shooting, addressed the crowd alongside her former congressional aide and co-founder of the Giffords organization Peter Ambler.

“It’s not about taking anything away from people. It’s about offering Americans a vision for responsibility and safety,” said Ambler.

Ambler said Giffords Gun Owners for Gun Safety aims to offer an alternative to pro-gun organizations like the National Rifle Association.

Now, the NRA Annual Meeting is also closed to non-members, but you can also buy a membership at the door that will allow you to wander the aisles of the exhibit hall, take in a seminar or other unticketed event, and attend the Member’s Meeting. There’s also a ton of pre-convention publicity surrounding the NRA meeting, which definitely wasn’t the case for Giffords’ gun control convention; the Gun Owners for Safety section of the Giffords website doesn’t even mention their convention, much less allow someone to register to attend.

That’s a shame, because I would have loved to have covered this event for Bearing Arms if I’d known about it beforehand. I’ve never been to a gun control convention, and I’m very curious to see what one looks like. Do they have tables featuring all of the guns, magazines, ammo, and accessories they want to ban? A James Taylor concert instead of Ted Nugent?

Actually, it probably sounded a lot like any other gun control gathering, because that’s exactly what it is. I don’t think this is a real attempt to grow a grassroots organization of gun owners, even those who don’t mind restrictions on the Second Amendment as long as it doesn’t directly impact how they exercise their right to keep and bear arms. This is just another branding campaign by Giffords and the gun control lobby at large to portray themselves as the voice for any and all Americans who don’t belong to the NRA or any other pro-Second Amendment organizations, including gun owners.

I’ve been around long enough to have seen this trick before. Back in 2005 the gun control lobby and Democratic figures put together the American Hunters and Shooters Association, which, in language almost identical to how Amber described Gun Owners for Safety, was billed as “a national grassroots organization committed to safe and responsible gun ownership.” AHSA lasted for five years before it folded due to a lack of membership. Gun Owners for Safety is cut from the same cloth, and when it’s no longer useful for Giffords it too will be cast aside and memory-holed. Until then, however, it’s worth keeping an eye on the project. These astroturf organizations haven’t been successful in the past, but at least part of the reason for that is that 2A groups repeatedly called out AHSA for what it was; a gun control group with a new brand identity.

The same is true for Gun Owners for Safety. This group isn’t going to be calling for more public and private gun ranges where folks can get training, though they’ll be okay with imposing burdensome and onerous training requirements before someone can purchase or possess a firearm, much less carry one for self-defense. Real gun safety revolves around education and training and not the criminalizing of an individual right, but the “vision for responsibility and safety” that Giffords promotes is nothing more than the same stale, tired, gun control ideology they’ve been pushing for decades; limiting the scope and scale of the right to keep and bear arms piece by piece until it’s virtually meaningless. I’m sure the group will get some gun owners to hop on board their anti-2A bandwagon, but because I care both about genuine gun safety and our Second Amendment rights, I won’t be one of them.