According to an e-mail sent by the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), Mark O'Mara, the defense attorney for George Zimmerman, will speak at the SAF-sponsored Gun Rights Policy Conference (GRPC), which will begin September 28. The conference will be held, for the first time in its 27 year history, in Florida.
Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder for fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida on February 26. The conference will take place at an Orlando hotel less than 25 miles away from the site of the shooting.
According to a GRPC flyer, the event will provide attendees with the “once a year chance to network, get an insider's look and plan pro-gun rights strategies for the coming year.” Whether O'Mara will divulge any new information about the ongoing criminal case remains to be seen. So far the Florida attorney has largely remained mum about the specifics of Zimmerman's self-defense claim, other than to indicate that that Florida's controversial “Kill At Will” self-defense law, called “Stand Your Ground” by its proponents, will likely play a significant role in his client's defense.
Although the guest list has not been finalized, it is likely that O'Mara will get the chance to rub elbows with some of the most ardent defenders of “Kill At Will.” The invitees include Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan Gottlieb, discredited gun rights "researcher" John Lott and unnamed representatives from Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, the National Rifle Association, and Gun Owners of America.
Despite widespread backlash against “Kill At Will,” the National Rifle Association (NRA) offered full-throated support for the law in the wake of Martin's killing. At the organization's annual meeting in April, top NRA lobbyist Chris Cox stated:
We stand in strong defense of any effort to allow law-abiding, good people to defend themselves against criminal attack. We don't apologize for that. It's not a problem in this country. We will defend our efforts. We will defend those laws, and if others want to join that fight we will.
Support for “Kill At Will” proved too toxic for even the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) which had worked hand-in-hand with the NRA to enact versions of the law in numerous states nationwide. On April 17, ALEC eliminated the NRA-chaired Public Safety and Elections taskforce responsible for producing model “Kill At Will” legislation.
The NRA has since doubled down on its support for “Kill At Will,” promising to “protect self-defense laws on the books and advocate for their passage in those states that do not fully respect this fundamental right.”
In addition to being the founder of Second Amendment Foundation, Gottlieb is the Chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA). In this capacity, Gottlieb has sent out multiple fundraising appeals asking supporters to send money to help defend “Kill At Will.”
A May 15 e-mail stated, “The Stand Your Ground Law has saved many lives and will continue to do so in the future. We must stand our ground against these lawmakers to make sure we retain the freedom to defend ourselves.”
Gottlieb is not the only conference invitee that aggressively supported “Kill at Will” laws in the wake of the Martin killing. In addition to being a hardcore supporter of “Kill At Will,” John Lott, who has previously spoken at GRPC, has used his blog to act as a character witness from afar for George Zimmerman.
In a July 18 blog post, Lott suggested that Zimmerman's decision to participate in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity the previous night meant that he “has nothing to hide.”
In a separate blog post published on April 27, Lott described Zimmerman as “a deeply religious man who has tried to help others” before lamenting that “It is a tragedy that a man who has tried to do so much good for his community has been so grievously maligned by the media and others.”
A little over a week later, Lott promoted the false rumor, which he admitted he hadn't “been able to confirm” with “a solid news source,” that a March 22 rally led by Al Sharpton spurred a violent racially motivated attack against a Caucasian man. In fact, the assault referred to by Lott occurred four days after the rally and no racial motive has been alleged.