When SUNY Albany YAL began planning for the year in July, one of the things that we strove to do was make a big impact on our campus in the face of strong philosophical opposition.
Our biggest project to date would be our defining moment on our campus. Second Amendment Week took months of hard work, strategic planning, innovation, and a little bit of luck, all culminating in a project that was nothing less then awesome. This week consisted of three main events:
- SUNY Albany YAL’s “Right that Secures Them All” Rally: A gun rally featuring major state legislators and speakers to stand up for our Second Amendment rights
- Women’s Self Defense Day: A day to relate the Second Amendment to women’s personal safety
- NY Legislators Panel: A forum with State Assemblymen Steve McLaughlin and Marc Butler to discuss gun rights.
The logistics and planning that went into executing this week of events was one of the most difficult things that I have ever planned with our chapter, and it could not have been done without major teamwork.
The main effort behind our event was our “Right that Secures Them All” gun rally. With that planning complete, the rest of the events fell into place. The logistics for the Rally involved four different stages:
- Strategic planning: what we are doing, why we are doing it, and steps to achieve those goals
- Logistical planning
- Speakers planning
The first thing Randy and I locked down was location and date. We chose Collins Circle as the location for our rally and were going to hold it October 15. The location we chose was ideal as it was a large space that was perfect for garnering attention for our event. After struggling with the school administration — even filing a preliminary brief with FIRE just in case it went that far — we got permission to do our event on campus!
With location set, a few other YAL members and I set out to handle our speakers list. Our final list included elected officials, representatives of statewide gun organizations, grassroots liberty activists, College Republicans, and YAL members:
- Keynote Speaker: Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin
- Assemblyman Steve Katz
- President of NYSRPA Tom King
- President of SCOPE Stephen Aldstadt
- Republican Committeeman 113th District Rob Arrigo
- Liberty Activist David Andrew Gay
- Albany County Legislator 39th District Deborah Busch
- SUNY Albany YAL Assistant Public Advocate Conner Dunleavy
- SUNY Albany YAL President Skyler DeAngelo
- SUNY Albany YAL Public Advocate Randy Purdy
- SUNY Albany YAL Treasurer Andrew Britt
- College Republican President Patrick Moran
With the location and speakers list set to go, we focused on building a coalition of pro-gun organizations and advertising our event as broadly as possible to the campus and rest of the state. I reached out to SCOPE, NY2A and our College Republican friends, all of whom decided to cosponsor and advertise our event to their networks. Each organization was provided with a table the day of to promote their organizations as well.
We also started a website to promote our event online.
Roughly two weeks before the event, organization began massive online campaigns and in person events to promote our event. Our advertising campaign began with a very large event at the Brunswick Gun forum which was discovered by Public Advocate Randy Purdy. I was personally invited to speak to a packed room of 300 people and was able to promote our event! The net effect of this was us being able to hand out large amount of event fliers to activists across the state, network with county and state officials involved in conservative politics, and our mention in two local news sources to promote our event.
From there, our Media Director Sarah Pelletier and I added to the momentum and buzz around our event by writing up and sending out a press release to gun sites and media sources to gain media exposure. A major gun site, ammloand.com, picked up our event! This resulted in over 400 Facebook likes on the event page and lots of attention from across the nation for our event.
To increase the online presence even more, we posted on 14 different gun blogs and, with the aid of Gabby Hofmann of the Leadership Institute, our event blew up on Twitter. It was retweeted 128 times after being picked up by Michelle Malkin and Dana Loesch, along with pro-liberty organizations like the Ladies of Liberty Alliance:
The only other major advertising we did was a tour to gun shops in the capital region. This involved Public Advocate Randy Purdy, Assistant Public Advocate Conner Dunleavy, and me going around the capital region to talk to gun store owners and patrons in person. Some shops already had our fliers thanks to our connection, and we had a wonderful time visiting the people directly:
With fliers around campus, the internet saturated with information, media confirmed for our event, and our statewide outreach complete, we only had to take care of a few major items: a stage, sound equipment, a generator, and parking for attendees.
Teaming up with our friends at the college radio station WCDB, we got speakers and a microphone. Sarah and I got the wood parts to create makeshift stage; while Randy and I picked up a generator for power during the event. I also mapped out a parking plan which was emailed out to attendees.
Our Media Director, Sarah, also made wonderful shirts to sell at the event:
These results speak for themselves! With tons of media coverage and with 80 or so people in attendance, this event was a huge success! Our stage did not break; the weather held up; the generator provided enough power; and the patrons had a wonderful time:
We got plenty of fantastic media coverage after the rally as well! Here are some story links:
We also recorded a number of short videos from the day’s events! Click here to watch them.