Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, in lieu of an in person annual fall dinner this year, we hosted our first annual “virtual” fall conference via Zoom on Sunday, November 15. Our keynote speaker was Dr. Michael North of Scotland. Dr. North lost his five year old daughter, Sophie, in the mass shooting at the Dunblane Primary School in Scotland in 1996. Great Britain already had a ban on automatic and semi-automatic long guns, but the Dunblane mass shooting was committed by a man who legally owned the handguns he used to kill Sophie, her teacher, and 15 other students. Following the Dunblane mass shooting, Dr. North helped lead a successful campaign to completely ban civilian ownership of handguns in Great Britain. In his keynote presentation, which we recorded and have posted online, Dr. North humbly and eloquently describes how he and a small group of other grieving Dunblane parents who had no prior political experience or infrastructure, but who fervently believed that nothing short of a complete handgun ban would suffice to protect other children from becoming victims of future mass shootings, were able to succeed in achieving what had previously been thought to be politically impossible. Since the handgun ban went into effect in 1998, there have been no further school shootings, and the rate of gun deaths in Great Britain is currently 1/60th the rate in the United States.
The recording of the first hour of our November 15 conference also includes an enlightening presentation by the prominent San Francisco Bay Area attorney, Anthony Schoenberg, J.D., concerning the Second Amendment and the Supreme Court’s rogue 2008 Heller decision, in which a narrow 5-4 majority of the Court reversed over two centuries of legal precedent, including four prior Supreme Court opinions, in ruling that the Second Amendment confers an individual right to own a handgun unrelated to service in a well regulated militia. Mr. Schoenberg is a recognized expert on the Second Amendment. He received the pro bono attorney of the year award from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in 2015 for his work in successfully defending a local large capacity magazine ban against a gun lobby challenge in the case of Fyock v. Sunnyvale. In his presentation during the first hour of our November 15 conference, Mr. Schoenberg speaks about some of the more egregious distortions of the truth in the Heller majority opinion written by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, including the hypocrisy in Scalia claiming to adhere to the original text of the Second Amendment at the same time that he argues that the phrase, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state,” which constitutes the first half of the Amendment, is irrelevant to the proper interpretation of the second half, which states, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
The second hour of the November 15 conference was devoted to a more free form discussion led by Americans Against Gun Violence president, Dr. Bill Durston, during which all attendees were invited to provide input concerning how we can work more effectively together to stop our country’s epidemic of gun violence. In order to encourage the free exchange of ideas, participants in the second hour of the discussion were not asked to consent to have their comments posted online.
We encourage everyone who visits this page of the Americans Against Gun Violence website to view the moving and informative presentations by Michael North Ph.D., and Anthony Schoenberg, J.D., during the first hour of our November 15 conference. We hope that after viewing the video, you’ll be as inspired as we were, and that you’ll consider becoming an official paid member of Americans Against Gun Violence, if you haven’t already done so, and also consider making an additional contribution, if you’re able, to support our ongoing efforts to stop our country’s shameful epidemic of gun violence.