In two months, on Sept. 23, hundreds of New Jersey gun owners and Second Amendment advocates will gather in Princeton — site of one of the many battlegrounds vital to the birth of the United States.
Of course, New Jersey gun owners find themselves in a perpetual battle to exercise their right to bear arms thanks to onerous laws imposed by imperious lawmakers who routinely fly in the face of the Bill of Rights of our nation’s Constitution.
The well-worn saying “May you live in interesting times” (whether truly of Chinese origin or not) is especially apropos for the 2A community at present, considering President Trump’s appearance April 27 at the NRA Annual Meeting in Atlanta; new Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch’s support of the Heller decision; and the New Jersey gubernatorial election on Nov. 7, with staunchly anti-gun Democrat Phil Murphy leading handily in the polls.
When we first gathered at NJ SAFE 2015 in Vineland, we didn’t know what to expect. But about 200 of you came out despite the hurricane looming offshore. Last year, in Parsippany, we drew a couple hundred more— and most of you stayed throughout the second half of the event, despite a major power outage.
So, who will join us in Princeton this year? We’ll entertain and educate as many of you as we can pack in. Because ultimately, it is our right to be heard— to do everything we can to remove the stigma of rightful gun ownership in New Jersey. When it comes to this most basic — indeed, inalienable — right, knowledge is power and there is strength in numbers. Your very presence in Princeton on Sept. 23 — where George Washington led his troops to a stunning victory over the British on Jan. 3, 1777 — will send an unmistakable message to the folks in Trenton who have not yet tired of chipping away at your firearms freedoms.
In the meantime, here are two other ways you can help the cause:
• Email us your story about your life with firearms: Tell us when and how you began exploring the shooting arts, who your mentors are/were and how they nurtured your enjoyment of guns, even your experience at an NJ SAFE conference, and we’ll consider it for publication on this blog or in a future story. Send along a photo of yourself as well, if you’re so inclined — preferably partaking in a firearms-related activity, but that’s not a must. Consider your shared personal stories a call to arms for others who share your values and your concerns about gun rights in New Jersey.
• Take the short NJ SAFE 2017 Gun Owners’ Poll on your firearms experiences. Results will be published at a later date.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember as a gun owner in New Jersey is that you are not alone — no matter how often it might feel that way or how often gun owners are demonized. Thousands upon thousands of us stand firm with you. Together we can and will continue to turn up the volume in affirming our beliefs, in supporting Second Amendment candidates and in nurturing future generations of law-abiding gun owners to exercise their right — and their duty — to bear arms.