Last night the RI Gun Blog team attended the 81st annual Federated Sportsmens Clubs of Rhode Island (FRISC) banquet. It was fantastic. At the Pines in North Smithfield we descended the stairs into the banquet hall where—as one pro-second amendment politician who attended was overheard saying—we met with “our community.”
It was our community. Delegates and members from twenty clubs were there, as well as those of us not affiliated with a Federated club. Represented was a broad swath of Rhode Island’s sportsmen (and women of course, as second amendment focused events go, the gender ratio was much closer to one than most).
With all those friends in the room, the RI Gun Blog team had plenty of folks to sit back and talk to for the duration. We were lucky enough to find seats at a table with Dexter Liu, the keynote speaker for the night, his wonderful family and friends, and Ed Doyle, who you surely know as the head of the Rhode Island chapter of Gun Rights Across America. Directly behind us sat the president of FRISC, Nick Grasso, and opposite our table was one manned by Reps. Mike Chippendale (R-Western Coventry, Foster and Glocester) and Doreen Costa (R-Exeter). We couldn’t have gotten better seats!
After an initial session where we were given some time to mingle and have drinks, dinner was served. First out came some chicken soup in giant bowls with ladles for self-serving. Then delightfully—though somewhat unexpectedly—out came a bowl of sticky cinnamon buns to each table. Needless to say, I was a big fan, because no matter which meal it is, I’m always up for sticky buns. After eating sticky buns and some bread, we were served a simple salad as sort of a palate cleanser before the entrée. Two options were available for the entrée, fish, or prime rib, of course I chose the prime rib which was delicious. Large slabs of medium rare prime rib were served with baked potatoes and mixed vegetables on the side. The meat was quite good and I don’t think anyone went away without a full belly. For dessert, vanilla ice cream with chocolate drizzle was served.
After the food was eaten, Nick Grasso got up to speak. Grasso recognized many of the politicians who had fought so hard for the second amendment in the most recent legislative session. At the top of the list were Reps. Chippendale and Costa, and also mentioned were Rep. Stephen Casey (D-Woonsocket), former State Senator Frank Maher (R-Exeter) and candidate for state representative Ed Doyle (D-Johnston). These politicians and candidates were all great supporters of the second amendment during the last legislative session and we wish them all continued success. As a side note, you can help Rep. Mike Chippendale remain in office by attending his fundraiser event on November 6th. After the acknowledgments, Grasso told the audience that, normally a sportsman of the year would have been designated at the banquet, but that given how hard everyone had worked through the legislative session, he was giving the award to all of Rhode Island’s sportsmen. The recognition of all of your hard work was a great idea and put the focus where it should be, on all the very many people who played a part in our victory in the battle for second amendment rights this year.
Grasso then introduced Dexter Liu. If you have been fighting with us for our rights this year, you’ll probably know that name. Liu recognized the threat to our second amendment rights early on, and immediately started getting the community organized. Part of the inspiration for the RIGunBlog.com was Liu’s first speech, which I attended at the Middletown FOP lodge, hosted by the Newport Rifle Club where we are both members. Liu made it very clear that we all needed to do our part and help the cause.
Liu is the retired owner of a marketing firm, and so he is keenly aware of the power of words. He knew that if we didn’t get out and start winning the rhetorical battles, that we would lose the war altogether and so he began a one man crusade to teach and educate Rhode Islanders about the second amendment and how to protect it in the Ocean State. Liu toured dozens of gun clubs rallying and teaching Rhode Islanders to defend their rights.
Dexter Liu was a fixture at the legislature through the last legislative session, and one could hear in his speech last night that his internal flame hasn’t died down one bit. The speech was a pointed reminder to Americans that what we have we should not take for granted. Liu explained in his speech that he is a first generation immigrant from China, whose family ended up on the losing side of the civil war there between capitalists and communists. Perhaps one of the most moving parts of the speech was when he told the audience that, in Shanghai where his family lived, first the communists came and took the guns, then the Bibles and books, and then anyone who wouldn’t toe the line was taken to “retraining camps.” Liu said that, though his father had a very large family, they were absent from his life. Though he didn’t expressly say it, I understood that to mean that they had been taken away by Mao’s communists and never returned.
Liu wove the theme of Chinese communism that he faced into the reality of what we face today in America. An overreaching government on what seems like a mission to control every aspect of our lives. Reducing the protection offered by the second amendment is only a first step in that control. Liu urged us all to keep fighting for our rights and to remain vigilant. Don’t become complacent after our victory in the last legislative session, because more is certainly on the way this year. Dexter Liu will be there, leading the charge again if necessary. After he finished his speech a hearty round of applause and a standing ovation ensued, and deservedly so.
Shortly, Grasso retook the microphone and the raffles began. Many items were donated and given away including fishing poles, artistic prints, gun bags, ammo, and the grand prize, which went to Pat Semnick, a muzzleloader. Pat is gifted with great luck at raffles, as two years ago she won a Pink Lady revolver at the NRA banquet. Congrats to Pat!
After the raffles were over, we mingled a bit more as we walked to our cars. It was quite warm for an October night. I was still full after the long ride home back to Middletown. As I drove down Route 146 and then through Providence, I could see the dome on the Capitol building all lit up, and I thought back to Liu’s speech. We have to be vigilant and keep fighting or the America we know will be lost forever.