The year 2020 will be remembered as one of many ups and downs, both for gun owners and for the country at large.
Yet as I reflect on the year gone by, two feelings are uppermost in my mind: gratitude and pride.
I am grateful for the tremendous effort the National Rifle Association and its more than five million members have put into preserving our most fundamental rights: the right to protect our lives and the lives of those we love.
And I feel enormous pride that through every circumstance that 2020 could throw at us, we—the members and personnel of the NRA—have never stopped fighting for the goal that unites us all: the protection and preservation of the Second Amendment.
Those are the feelings I will carry forward into 2021, come what may. While much still remains to be determined about the conditions and political landscape gun owners will face in the new year, the gratitude and pride that comes with striving alongside our membership in this righteous struggle will motivate us to keep fighting.
NRA members represent the best of America.
You have a deep and abiding appreciation of our freedoms and what it takes, and has taken, to protect them.
You are stewards of a great body of knowledge about firearms, gun safety, history, the management of our country’s precious natural resources, and the most effective forms of civic and political engagement.
Your commitment is demonstrated not just by words but by resolute deeds. You are the nation’s leading firearm instructors, sportsmen, hobbyists, hunters, hunting guides, gunsmiths, gun sellers and gun collectors.
You are a political force that has changed the shape of American politics. No one engages in the political process with more fervor, savvy or consistency than the men and women of the NRA.
Politicians understand that you are highly knowledgeable about issues that affect your right to keep and bear arms, and that these issues have a direct impact on the votes you cast.
They understand you will hold them accountable at the polls. They know you unfailingly cast votes in election after election.
Some people merely complain when they see things heading in the wrong direction.
You, the five million members of the NRA, on the other hand, act decisively.
Over the course of the 2020 general election cycle, you came out in droves to support President Trump and candidates like him who pledged to protect the Second Amendment and who backed up those pledges with their actions in office.
Besides your votes and the votes of friends and family who cast their ballots with your encouragement, in addition to all the yard signs and bumper stickers you displayed on your property, you were the foot soldiers in a massive campaign to elect pro-gun candidates.
Preliminary numbers show that in concert with our field organizers, you knocked on over 1 million doors to get out the pro-gun vote.
You made over half a million calls to remind gun owners to vote freedom first.
You sent a staggering 10 million election-related texts with information supporting pro-gun candidates.
With all the millions of dollars billionaires like Michael Bloomberg and George Soros spent to curtail your rights, with the combined forces of the legacy media, Hollywood, and social media platforms all united against your Second Amendment freedoms, you showed up and did the hard work of freedom. All their dollars, their smug self-regard, and their casual dismissal of you and your values could not suppress your enthusiasm or your determination.
There are never any guarantees when it comes to politics, except that you cannot win by being idle. You showed the winning spirit with your investment of time, energy and passion.
This article will go to the printing press before we have learned all the outcomes of the November elections.
But I don’t have to know those outcomes to feel gratitude and pride for what we accomplished together.
There will undoubtedly be struggles and opportunities ahead of us. No matter what the pundits or pollsters would have you believe, the future remains up for grabs. There is no predetermined trajectory to the trendline of American freedom.
So while I extend my heartfelt “thank you” for your unselfish and unyielding efforts in 2020, I encourage you to look ahead and imagine the future you want for yourself, your children and your grandchildren.
What that future looks like depends on who is willing to work the hardest for it.
And I would never bet against the men and women of the NRA when it comes to that.