Recounting how NRA members have fought—and won—together for generations, LaPierre gave them credit for electing Trump. “The leftists may deny it, the media might ignore it, but President Trump knows it: NRA members helped put him over the top, and because of you and so many more like you all over this country, the NRA helped put President Trump in the White House,” he said.
LaPierre quickly moved to address the challenges that remain. Alluding to a possible two-term Trump presidency, he called them the “fateful eight years.”
“The next eight years spell the difference between a Second Amendment left critically vulnerable to dismantling … or a freedom preserved for an entire generation,” he said. “The next eight years will determine whether your children and grandchildren enjoy the freedoms of our generation … or become shackled by restrictions so severe the Second Amendment might as well not exist at all.
“For America’s law-abiding gun owners, the next eight years … are the fateful eight years.” “For America’s law-abiding gun owners, the next eight years … are the fateful eight years.” — NRA EVP Wayne LaPierre
Even considering the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch, LaPierre outlined the magnitude of the challenge remaining in the federal courts.
“Obama appointed 331 judges to federal courts,” he said. “That’s more than a third of the entire federal judiciary.
“He flipped the partisan balance on 13 U.S. Courts of Appeals. When Obama took office, only one had a majority of Democratic appointees. Now, nine do.”
LaPierre cited the Fourth Circuit Court’s recent decision gutting Heller (see cover story, NRA America’s 1st Freedom, May 2017), saying, “That is how you get Maryland’s Fourth Circuit thumbing its nose at the U.S. Supreme Court. (They) just ignored the Supreme Court and upheld a ban on the most popular rifle in America.
“We are grateful for Judge Gorsuch. And it’s time for 100 more conservative, pro-Second Amendment judges on the bench.”
LaPierre called out state anti-gun regimes where “liberal leftwing Obama courts literally sneer at the Second Amendment.” He specifically cited New Jersey, New York, Washington state, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, Illinois, California and the District of Columbia.
LaPierre also called out an education bureaucracy that doesn’t teach about freedom. “In far too many classrooms, the U.S. Constitution is ignored … the Second Amendment discarded or bizarrely twisted to fit the liberal agenda of teachers and professors,” he said.
“That is the freedom for which we, the 5 million men and women of the NRA, stand and fight every single day. And for the next fateful eight years … that is the freedom we will never surrender.”
“He was just candidate Trump back then. But he was our candidate,” Cox said. “And we were ready to fight like hell for the soul of this country.”
Cox reminded members how media laughed off the Association’s commitment to Trump
“When we made the earliest presidential endorsement in NRA history, the media said we were ‘buying deck chairs on Trump’s Titanic,’” he said. “You spread the word. You kept the faith. You wrote the checks that put our message on the air. And when Election Day came, you stormed the voting booths in every corner of the country, and as a result—President Donald Trump joined us here in Atlanta!”
Cox reminded attendees how dim the future was only a year ago: “The Supreme Court was deadlocked 4 to 4 … ISIS was slashing a bloody trail toward our doorstep … our enemies no longer even pretended to take us seriously.
“At home … cities like Chicago became safe havens for killers, where nearly 4,000 people were murdered while Obama was president. … Heroes who wake up every day willing to risk their lives for our safety were left vulnerable by a despicable lack of support.”
How different things look today with Trump in the White House.
“President Trump made good on his promise to appoint a constitutionally sound justice to the Supreme Court,” Cox said. “Vice President Mike Pence (is) fighting for you every day … Jeff Sessions runs the Justice Department … instead of a tree-hugging, hunter-hating, land-locking bureaucrat running the Department the Interior, we now have Ryan Zinke—a veteran Navy SEAL, an avid hunter and an NRA Life member who eliminated Obama’s ban on lead ammo on his first day in office.
“And thanks to you, … General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis runs the Department of Defense!”
Cox outlined the NRA’s legislative priorities for the current session—national Right-To-Carry reciprocity and the removal of the onerous governmental restrictions on suppressors that could save gun owners’ hearing.
On reciprocity, Cox said, “Innocent, well-meaning people have gone to jail and had their lives turned upside-down at the hands of states like New Jersey—where Second Amendment freedom is criminalized. “It’s a sorry state of affairs when 10 states can deny a constitutional freedom to law-abiding American citizens.” —NRA-ILA’s Chris W. Cox
“It’s a sorry state of affairs when 10 states can deny a constitutional freedom to law-abiding American citizens.”
Reciprocity, he said, “simply says that if you have the Right to Carry in your home state, then you ought to have the same right to keep and bear arms in the rest of America.”
Regarding suppressors, Cox stated: “Your hearing is too important to be hidden behind a $200 federal tax, fingerprints and a nine-month paper chase.”
Cox challenged U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., for her claims that a gun with a suppressor, called a “silencer” by some, is completely quiet.
“Senator, I’ll meet you down at the NRA range any time you’d like,” Cox said. “I’ll bring my .300 Win Mag and a suppressor and let you set up safely behind me. And for every round I shoot before you cry and put some hearing protection on, I’ll donate 100 bucks to charity.”
Cox honored NRA members Jessica Jorde, Kim Corban and Kristi McMains for their advocacy, and all stood for a standing ovation. “They represent the very best of the NRA,” he said. “They aren’t celebrities. And they certainly aren’t in it for the fame. They’re fighting for their lives, and the lives of women everywhere.”
Looking toward the 2018 mid-term elections, Cox closed with a warning, and a promise: “If you run against the Second Amendment freedom of everyday American citizens, you put your future in direct opposition to the most powerful grassroots force in history.
“We are the National Rifle Association of America. And we are, now and forever, Freedom’s Safest Place.”
Clay Turner is the creative director for America’s 1st Freedom magazine, an official journal of the NRA, as well as the daily news website, Americas1stFreedom.org. He shoots just enough to maintain an A rating with the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA).