On Saturday, April 29, in conjunction with NRA’s Annual Meetings in Atlanta, the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division hosted its Third Annual Collegiate Leadership Conference.
Those future leaders in attendance were treated to a diverse group of speakers and heard from a top notch panel about student activism in defense of the Second Amendment.
- Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant gave a passionate defense of the Second Amendment, encouraging students to be proud advocates for, and supporters of, their Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
- Kristi McMains recounted her horrific attack from 2016, where she was able to save her life due to the presence of her firearm. Kristi’s story, which was featured in previous NRA ads, clearly demonstrated to attendees that the Second Amendment, and its protection of our right to self-defense, is not just a topic of academic discussion, but one that has real life consequences.
- Antonia Okafor talked about her journey into the gun rights movement and how she is working to defy common, erroneous stereotypes about gun owners and the gun issue. (More on Antonia below.)
Following those three speakers, a panel was assembled to talk about the challenges and opportunities our Second Amendment rights face on campus today, and to discuss successful strategies to further our cause of liberty. Panelists were:
- Antonia Okafor: In 2015, Antonia made a permanent mark in the Second Amendment community, when she became the Southwest Regional Director for Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC), where she advocated for the passing and successful implementation of concealed carry on campus in Texas law known as, “campus carry." We at NRA took notice of her activism and had her star in one of our “Freedom’s Safest Place” commercials, a national campaign that highlights the diversity of NRA members. A current graduate student at the University of Texas at Dallas, Antonia shows no signs of slowing down. Currently, Antonia is the founder of EmPOWERed, a national student organization that empowers, educates and equips young women on college campuses to use their firearm for self-defense, on or off campus.
- Christian Lemke: Southeast Deputy Regional Director for the youth political organization, Turning Point USA, which exists to identify and educate students on the principles of limited government and free markets. Christian is a junior at Liberty University online, where he studies Finance and Public Policy. He has teamed up with NRA-friendly collegiate groups to recruit and educate students about the importance of the Second Amendment. Recently, he has co-hosted several meetings and encouraged open discussions and debates on gun rights throughout the Southeast. At the University of South Carolina and the College of Charleston, he has helped build a coalition of student organizations aimed at educating students on their constitutional rights.
- Giovanni Triana: Giovanni is a first generation immigrant from Mexico studying Political Science and Mathematics at East Carolina University. He had the opportunity to publish, "The Case Against Gun Control", as an intern for Turning Point USA, which was distributed to over 1,000 Turning Point USA chapters nationwide. Gio recently hosted two standing room only events at ECU, one with Tomi Lahren and an NRA University. In addition to his pro-Second Amendment activism, Giovanni has successfully spearheaded efforts to restore/preserve campus speech at ECU.
- Ja’Quan Taylor: Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) campus leader for Georgia Tech. As campus leader he spends much of his time recruiting new members and educating students on their Second Amendment rights. Georgia has sent Campus Carry legislation to the governor's desk for the last two years, and Ja'Quan has been an avid advocate for its passage. Ja'Quan also serves as the President of the Georgia Tech Marksmanship Club where he uses school funds to promote firearm safety, discussion, and fun.
- Sean Maloney: Sean Maloney is a current NRA Board member who has been very involved in our Grassroots activities over the years. As a FrontLines Activist Leader, Sean assisted with the defeat of Bloomberg in the Colorado recall elections of 2014. Over the years he has also spoken at a number of different universities about the importance of protecting the Second Amendment. Sean believes that the future of the pro-gun movement starts with college students, which is why he has offered gun safety training to local students in Ohio in order to introduce them to firearms.
The panel was moderated by ILA Grassroots Division Director, Glen Caroline. The audience questions were relevant and insightful, and those in attendance left the event better equipped to promote NRA and our Second Amendment rights on their campus.
We look forward to next year’s event at NRA’s Annual Meetings in Dallas!