On May 5th, 175 pro-Second Amendment patriots packed a meeting room in Dallas’s Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center to learn what more they can do to be a force multiplier in this year’s elections, and to learn from the next generation of Second Amendment leaders on how to further engage college and high school students in our efforts.
Attendees were welcomed by James Dickey, Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, who was followed by Florida State Representative Cord Byrd. Rep. Byrd gave a chilling account of the political climate in Tallahassee that ultimately led to the passage of a package of gun control laws. Both gentlemen stressed the need for enhanced involvement in the 2018 elections by NRA members and gun owners.
The highlight of the event, however, was an energetic panel of young, passionate Second Amendment activists, who gave their perspectives on the emerging youth movement in the gun rights debate. The panel, moderated by ILA Grassroots Programs and Campaign Field Operations Director Glen Caroline, featured:
- Rachel Malone who serves as Operations Director for the Republican Party of Texas, where she works to implement Chairman Dickey's vision within each department of RPT and connects with board members, elected officials, and the grassroots on behalf of the Chairman. Rachel is a nationally certified defensive handgun and rifle instructor whose passion is to train Texans in the process by which they can make change happen.
- Rachel Freehill who is the field director for Turning Point USA in North Texas and Oklahoma, as well as the Texas Media Spokeswoman for EmPOWERed, a nonprofit organization that fights for women's rights to self-defense on college campuses. She is the daughter of a Dallas Police Officer and the soon-to-be wife of a Denton County Sheriff's Deputy and says that being close to law enforcement has taught her the importance of being well armed. Rachel works at over 60 college campuses and has become skilled at appealing to the interests of a variety of different personalities, from the social justice warrior student to the professor who is deeply set in their convictions that guns have no place in civilized societies.
- Estrella Gonzales who is completing her second year as a broadcasting major at the University of Texas at Arlington. She joined Turning Point USA in the fall of 2016 and founded a chapter on her campus. She has served as Chapter President for two years and works as a Campus Coordinator for the organization as well. Last summer, she was awarded the Margaret Thatcher Young Leader Award at the Young Women's Leadership Summit and is a finalist in the 2018 Radio Mercury Awards for her PSA "Mixed Signals". Last September, she served on a panel at the NRA Women's Leadership Forum Summit.
- Jeramy Kitchen who is the former President of Texas Tech Young Conservatives of Texas; Former Board Member of Young Conservatives of Texas, and Current Chief of Staff to a Texas House member.
The panelists provided insight outlining their own personal experiences, including mobilizing young activists, and took questions and comments from audience members.
The final speaker was Trey Ramsey, NRA-ILA’s Southeast Grassroots Field Coordinator, who discussed ILA’s various volunteer programs and how conference attendees could enroll and work to recruit other volunteers.
If the attendance and passion exhibited in Dallas were any indications, those on the front lines of our battle to preserve and protect the Second Amendment understand what’s at stake in this November’s election and are ready to lead the charge!