By Michael Giuliano
A re-engaged membership and a peaceful succession to the office of President (although many of us still hedged our bets and bought some gun raffle tickets) marked the S.C.O.P.E. annual meeting on April 27 in Syracuse. Nick Massal was elected President. The other officers were reelected for another term. Battle plans were formulated. Members and directors left their respective meetings with new ideas to reach and educate the public and local elected officeholders.
While a comparison to James Monroe’s so-called Era of Good Feelings might seem overblown, few opportunities for such comparison have presented themselves in New York State of late. The S.C.O.P.E. membership should adopt the example of Monroe and the renewed national spirit at the end of the War of 1812 as a guide for our own collaboration and development of an action plan. S.C.O.P.E. needs a renewed optimism to grow and thrive. At the meeting, there was a vigorous exchange of ideas and proposals, and the sense abounded that our efforts this year will be supported by a solid lineup of leaders across the state.
Among the presentations delivered to the membership, Wayne County S.C.O.P.E. led the charge, offering a progress update on the drafting of a model resolution/ ordinance for county and town boards, commissions, and legislatures throughout Western and Central New York, that will reaffirm the officeholders’ commitment to due process and gun rights. The painstaking efforts by Don Smith and Bob Brannan on this initiative was quite evident as are the efforts of many others both within and outside of S.C.O.P.E. who are working tirelessly on it.
Several chapter chairs were partaking in their first statewide board meeting and a vibrant discussion was had on various suggestions for improvements within the organization. The meetings produced spirited debate; the discussions were wide-ranging and included fundraising proposals.
Monroe County Chair Gene Nolan reported on his chapter’s recent meetings with several legislators. Among the hot topics of discussion that arose at one of Monroe’s recent meetings was the ever-popular idea of dividing New York. He also proposed some alternative chapter funding methods.
An issue critical to the organization’s future arose during the discussions: Should S.C.O.P.E. reach out more overtly to those who support other fundamental freedoms such as free speech and due process? A potential update to the S.C.O.P.E. mission statement was proposed by new Wyoming chairman Gary Gardner. The new statement, if adopted, would reaffirm our commitment to the many other rights within the Bill of Rights, including due process which is so beleaguered in New York. This might broaden S.C.O.P.E.’s popular base of support to include those who aren’t specifically pro-gun.
Prominently absent in Syracuse was 2nd Vice-President Jack Prendergast, as he was on an assigned mission, as a Yates Republican official, to rid us of Ed Cox. His punishment for being absent however, inflicted by the board in absentia, was to be nominated for another year in his V.P. position.
1st Vice-President Andrea Elliot inspired us with her interpretation of the struggles we face and the perseverance we must maintain. Tim Andrews’ term as President expired and he was elected to an at-large position on the board.
The late-meeting assurance by Budd Schroeder that he would remain a cantankerous gun rights advocate may not sound like a harmonious note, but one had to be present at the meeting to realize that it added bite and punctuation to an optimistic S.C.O.P.E. assembly.
Budd announced his retirement from the board of directors effective in May, timed to coincide with his 54th anniversary with S.C.O.P.E. It was Schroeder’s waggish promise to remain “mean” (his word) and irascible in retirement that in some ways capped the dual meetings in Syracuse. Indicating he still planned to stay active with Firing Lines and political debate, he wished everyone well and praised the quality of the new board and leadership.
The announcement framed a perfect opportunity both to reflect on S.C.O.P.E.’s long history and to concentrate on the future.
As we prepared to part, Nick Massal, as the new President, addressed the assembled board and members. Offering his plans for the year, he reminded everyone of the challenging work that is ahead for all members.
Much has been accomplished since 1965 and yet so much more remains to be done. Albany would have it no other way. The struggle is never over. Liberty must always be guarded.
With the retirement of Budd Schroeder, and with Tim Andrews having finished his terms as President, a S.C.O.P.E. founder and a longtime S.C.O.P.E. leader leave the duty of engaging the future to S.C.O.P.E.’s newly-elected leader Nick Massal—and indeed, they leave this responsibility to all of us.