The Second Amendment Foundation

Celebrating 50 Years Of 2A Defense
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Fifty years has gone by pretty fast. Fortunately, during the past half-century, the United States has seen an incredible resurgence of Second Amendment activism as attorneys, politicians, constitutional scholars and grassroots activists have fought to turn the tide of gun control. They are succeeding.

One organization largely responsible for stopping the liberal rush toward erasing the right to keep and bear arms is the Second Amendment Foundation, which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary. In recognition of this landmark occasion, SAF has unveiled a special logo being used throughout 2024.


Humble Beginnings

Once considered so obscure some people in the firearms community hadn’t even heard of it, SAF is now recognized as the foremost legal powerhouse of the gun rights movement. Founded and still led by Alan Gottlieb, SAF has literally “brought the fight to the enemy” via state and federal court actions. The most significant was McDonald v. City of Chicago, the 2010 Supreme Court ruling nullifying Chicago’s 30-year-old handgun ban and — more importantly — incorporated the Second Amendment to the states via the 14th Amendment.

Although McDonald was a SAF case, when the ruling came down, many in the media evidently had never heard of the organization or were just too stubborn to acknowledge there might be another gun rights group other than the NRA capable of taking on such a monumentally important case.

SAF was founded in 1974, and since its inception, the organization began priming for battle by creating the annual Legal Scholars Conference, bringing together some of the brightest minds in the country. Their purpose: Lay the groundwork for courtroom confrontations to eventually restore the Second Amendment to its rightful place within the Bill of Rights.

In 1986, SAF and its sister organization, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA), held the first annual Gun Rights Policy Conference. Admittedly, the first few of these gatherings were modest affairs but they provided an opportunity for activists, legal experts and leaders of various gun rights organizations, to come together and formulate strategies to rescue Second Amendment rights from the grips of anti-gunners in Congress and state legislatures.

Today, both SAF and CCRKBA have earned reputations for savvy strategic litigation and “common sense” grassroots activism, respectively. Gottlieb, now in his mid-70s, still wears his trademark bow tie and still has the energy and spunk to “fight the good fight.” He also has the vision to have brought on board Adam Kraut as SAF executive director. A Philadelphia attorney previously with the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), Kraut came to SAF about two years ago and he has assembled a team to take the organization well into the 21st Century.


Getting Stronger Every Day

SAF’s footprint has grown larger over the past few years as the National Rifle Association suffered through legal and institutional troubles. Still, the NRA has stood in the way of anti-gunners for decades in the legislative halls. But while the association has excelled in the political arena, SAF has pursued its original legal course, taking a leadership position in firearms litigation.
Joining Kraut are Lauren Hill, senior vice president and vice president of Development; Matt Coffey, vice president of SAF communications; J. Pierce Shields, national director of Advancement, and Bill Sack, director of Legal Operations.

Through the years, SAF has also had another critical player, Julianne Hoy Versnel, vice president of International Outreach and Special Assistant to the Executive Vice President. Because of the global gun control threat, she’s likely to be very busy for the foreseeable future.

And it must be noted GUNS Magazine’s own Massad Ayoob now serves as SAF president, having stepped into the role following the death of legendary 2A advocate Joseph Tartaro a few years ago.

Earlier this year, when SAF reminded gun owners of its Golden Anniversary, Gottlieb recalled, “When I started SAF in 1974, I only had one purpose in mind: Defending our firearms freedom one lawsuit at a time. What began as my quest to ensure our right as Americans to keep and bear arms has grown into an organization that currently has 57 active cases, all with the same goal in mind — securing our Second Amendment rights for generations to come.”

To date, SAF has filed more than 260 cases involving such issues as semi-auto and magazine bans, gun bans in public housing and city park facilities, gun show bans at public fairgrounds and even some First Amendment issues. Increasing financial support from industry and private donors has allowed the foundation the ability to challenge extremist gun control laws from one end of the country to the other. California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and other hotbeds of gun control fanaticism have all seen SAF — often partnering with other groups including the NRA, California Rifle & Pistol Association, Illinois State Rifle Association, Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, Connecticut Citizens Defense League, Florida Carry and FPC — fighting back.


Troubled Times

Still, all is not smooth sailing. Following the 2022 Supreme Court ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which struck down New York’s unconstitutional concealed carry law and established new guidelines for adjudicating Second Amendment cases, some circuit and district court judges have essentially ignored the high court. Along with blatant efforts to dance around the Bruen guidelines by some “blue” state legislatures, the stage is being set for a constitutional confrontation.

Meanwhile, SAF has lately taken on some interesting initiatives. The organization established the State Law Preemption Project to protect preemption laws, which provide uniformity in gun laws from one state border to the other and frustrate municipal anti-gun administrations intent on setting up their own gun control fiefdoms.

On another front, SAF earlier this year launched its “Capture the Flag” project, which will challenge so-called “Red Flag” laws depriving individuals of their right to keep and bear arms “based on evidentiary standards that offend constitutional notions,” according to the group. The pilot program is targeting such laws in six states: California, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Washington. The first case involves a Marine Corps veteran targeted by a county official in Maryland.

According to Kraut, SAF is inviting people from those states who may have been subjected to an Extreme Risk Protection Order, risk protection order or emergency gun violence restraining order to contact the organization, via the SAF website:

You can be along for the ride. There are more than 720,000 members and supporters, and more people are joining daily. As proven by this year’s 50th anniversary, when it comes to 2A Defense, SAF is in for the long haul.

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