At the National Rifle Association’s convention in Houston, TX, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre announced that the NRA has now grown to an unprecedented 5 million active members. He concluded his speech with the theme of all the NRA officers, vowing, “From liberty’s defense, we will never back down. We will never surrender. We will always stand. We will always fight.”
Well over 70,000 members of the NRA are assembled in Houston, Texas for its 142nd Annual Meeting–projected to break the all-time record for the nation’s oldest and largest Constitutional rights organization. The convention houses over 300,000 square feet of exhibits (mostly firearms and accessories), seminars on various topics including women’s and children’s safety, and formal speeches from national political leaders and the NRA’s leadership. The central focus on the annual convention–as always–is protecting the Constitution’s Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
The speeches focused on the recent gun-control fight in Congress, where the national media and political pundits were shocked to see the NRA inflict a crushing defeat to a newly-reelected President Barack Obama, who put his political capital and all the weight of the White House behind gun-control legislation.
Outgoing NRA President David Keene gave his valedictory address, noting the challenges of responding to recent tragedies: “We’ve all been under attack… by those who would exploit the victims of a madman to advance their own anti-Second Amendment agenda.”
Keene then exulted in the fact that despite incredible money from leftists and a mainstream media that opposes gun rights, that nonetheless over 58,000 Americans joined the NRA in one day after Obama gave his initial gun-control speech. Amazingly, the NRA’s membership has grown by roughly one million–an astounding 25% increase–since the middle of last year.
Keene cautioned members and supporters against complacency and thinking their victory was permanent. “We must never confuse winning a battle with winning the war.”
In his speech, LaPierre credited NRA members for working together to generate Obama’s humiliating loss, saying, “Apparently, there’s nothing the president will not do to get something–anything–through Congress to advance his agenda to destroy the Second Amendment. Nothing. So far, thanks to you and millions of Americans like you, that’s exactly what President Obama has gotten–absolutely nothing!”
LaPierre discussed the major disconnect between NRA members and establishment leaders in politics and the media. He characterized it not as a divide between Republicans and Democrats, but instead the profoundly different worldviews between the elites in D.C. and New York in political, academic, and media circles, as compared to ordinary men and women throughout the vast majority of the country.
He also noted that many of these elites can’t understand why the NRA won’t support measures these opinion leaders call “reasonable,” and try to blame the NRA for tragedies such as Newtown. LaPierre assured his members that NRA leaders might be unwelcome to some in those refined circles due to their refusal to give things away at the negotiating table, but, “They can try to blame and shame us with all their might, but when it comes to defending the Second Amendment, we will never sacrifice our freedom upon the altar of elitist acceptance. And we will never surrender our guns!”
Chris Cox, the head of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, spoke after LaPierre. Cox noted statements from billionaire Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s surrogates that they could use tragedies such as Newtown to push public acceptance of gun control. He said that for the NRA, by contrast, “We want to prevent Newtown, not take advantage of it.”
Cox told the audience such tragedies were being exploited to push an anti-gun agenda and emphatically stated, “We will not stand idly by while politicians, billionaires, or the media try to destroy the rights that American heroes died defending.”
He specifically focused on the Newtown tragedy and the subsequent defeat of Obama’s background-check gun-control bill, noting, “Universal background checks would not have prevented Newtown. Let’s focus on that for a minute. The centerpiece of President Obama’s response to Newtown, would not have prevented Newtown.”
“We will never apologize for who we are and what we believe,” Cox concluded. “We will never be intimidated by a president. We will never be ashamed by a national news media. And we will never be scared of a billionaire. Instead I promise you, that we will stand, and we will fight.”
With 5 million members in its ranks and growing, that promise from the NRA’s leadership is likely to continue to be felt. Look for the NRA to engage its increased political strength in the 2014 midterm elections.
Breitbart News legal columnist Ken Klukowski is also a Life Member of the National Rifle Association and a published scholar on the Second Amendment.