I attended the Arizona Citizens Defense League in Phoenix on Saturday, 8 October, 2016. It was a 170 mile drive from Yuma.
Usually I take a friend, but I was slow this year, and the meeting and annual dinner was sold out before I invited anyone.
You can see the crush crowd outside the meeting hall, registering to get in.
AZCDL is one of the most successful state groups that have organized to restore the right to keep and bear arms. The group was founded by Fred Dahnke and a small group of activists in 2005. Fred was an early “Executive Member” of the Virginia Citizen Defense League. He joined it early in 1994 when it was the NVCDL.
Much of the success of AZCDL is from the VCDL model, plus some tweaks learned by Fred and other members from previous organizations. In 2007, AzCDL had 300 members. In 2016, they have a membership of 14,000. AzCDL is not a gun club. It concentrates on legislation and on restoring the right to keep and bear arms.
There was only room for 500 at the annual meeting, which is why it sold out so quickly. One of those attending was Representative Bob Thorpe, LD 6, Flagstaff. He said this about AzCDL:
“I love the NRA. They are great folks, but they do not hold a candle to the AzCDL.”
AzCDL uses the incremental model, pushing for improvements to existing law while keeping the final goal of complete restoration of the right to keep and bear arms in mind. Here are some of the accomplishments, from incremental to fundamental, of Az CDL:
All of these were gained in the legislature, by hard work and dedicated AzCDL lobbyists, who keep a daily presence there while the legislature is in session. They plan and build support for legislation long before the legislature meets.
It does not take 14,000 members to enact improvements aimed at restoring the right to keep and bear arms. Success builds membership, and membership builds success. There are several states that are lacking an AzCDL or VCDL type organization, and could benefit greatly from one.
The case for restoring the right to keep and bear arms is so strong, logical, and popular, that incremental advances can be won in most states. What is required is a consistent presence at the capitol, focused on long term goals, backed up by an activist membership. There are numerous groups to use as examples, if the core leadership of a group can be found and organized. Those groups are willing to share what works.
The activists are there. They just need to be found and organized.
Arizona did not start with Constitutional carry. It took a lot of hard work and activism to get there.
I am a proud life member of AzCDL.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch