INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana–Wayne LaPierre, the long-serving CEO of the National Rifle Association of America, rallied the troops on Friday with a broad-based liberty theme that made gun rights the centerpiece of what makes America the greatest nation on earth, telling NRA members to gird their loins for a “bare-knuckled street fight.”
The NRA is known for focusing on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms–and with it, every aspect of America’s firearms heritage. The NRA’s strength in political battles comes in large part from its ability to hold together a broad coalition of hunters, competitors, political activists, and others from both political parties and independents.
Yet at Friday’s Leadership Forum for the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) in Indianapolis, LaPierre tied the Second Amendment to other American rights and the values that set America apart on the world stage. At one of the first events of the NRA’s 143rd Annual Meeting–which should draw over 70,000 NRA members to the Hoosier state–he touched upon First Amendment rights and constitutional limits on government, speaking of threats to “our right to speak, our right to gather, our right to privacy.” He spoke, too, of “the freedom to work, and practice our religion, and raise and protect our families as we see fit.”
Citing a litany of conservative grievances over the past couple years, LaPierre denounced a wide range of policies of the Obama administration.
“They try to regulate our religion. They collect our cell phone and email data. They give us Solyndra, Benghazi, Fast and Furious, Obamacare, massive unemployment, a debt that will choke our grandchildren, and one executive order on top of another,” he said.
“The IRS is now a weapon,” LaPierre added, pivoting to a number of recent government abuses. “It’s why a majority of Americans, in poll after poll, say we don’t trust the White House, we don’t trust Congress, we don’t trust either national party. And we sure as heck don’t trust the national news media!”
But back in his wheelhouse of gun rights, LaPierre showcased his characteristic style of unyielding support for the Second Amendment. Speaking of “the God-given right of good people to protect themselves,” LaPierre promised, “the NRA stands unflinching and unapologetic and in defense of our freedom. NRA’s 5 million members and America’s 100 million gun owners will not back down–not now, not ever!”
He warned that the upcoming elections would be a no-holds-barred melee, a “bare-knuckled street fight” in which NRA members needed to fully engage. As one of the most successful political field generals in America, LaPierre is known for a hard-hitting style more suited to hand-to-hand combat leading up to Election Day.
LaPierre acknowledged that NRA members face a pitched battle against well-funded opponents who enjoyed the full backing of President Barack Obama and his administration. He also said that all this is part of “laying the groundwork to put a Clinton back in the White House.”
In the face of the Left’s resources, LaPierre vowed to the crowd at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, “But mark my words: The NRA will not go quietly into the night. We will fight.”
Ken Klukowski is senior legal analyst for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.