It is hard to believe we are past the halfway mark of 2020—a year full of challenges and changes to our everyday lives that only a few months ago would have seemed unimaginable. The COVID-19 international health crisis descended upon our country swiftly and mercilessly, and I continue to pray that the millions in our NRA family remain healthy and safe as we emerge from the lockdown and economic peril.
Being forced to confront such turmoil has summoned a clarity on what matters most in our lives as Americans. In addition to gratitude for God’s incalculable blessings of faith, family and friends, we have been moved to reflect deeply on the unique freedoms our nation has enjoyed for nearly 250 years. Any restrictions on those Constitutional guarantees are anathema to our American way of life, thus it is incumbent on us to continue safeguarding freedom for future generations.
That is why, in this year of what no doubt will be the most critical election of our time, we must not squander the strength of focus caused by uncertainty. The unknown consequences of national disorder prompted millions of law-abiding citizens—your neighbors, friends and family members among them—to become first-time gun owners, largely to protect themselves and their families from those who would do them harm. They were able to exercise these rights and freedoms in many cases as a direct result of the efforts of local gun stores to remain open during the lockdown. Your NRA leadership and NRA-ILA worked relentlessly to defeat attempts by some state-elected officials to suppress citizens’ Second Amendment rights by closing gun stores. We must continue to support NRA-ILA and ensure its efforts were not in vain.
Throughout our history, respected elders have taught family members the rules of safe gun handling, marksmanship and overall respect for firearms, along with the responsibility that accompanies gun ownership. Sadly, that is not always the case today. Now is the time to be proactive and protect your Second Amendment-protected liberty at the grassroots level. If you know any of those new gun owners, warmly welcome them into the ranks and share your knowledge with them. Use this opportunity to become a positive influence. Offer mentorship. Teach newcomers the NRA Rules of Gun Safety. With ranges now open in most states, start them on a path to lifelong fulfillment and personal security. Refer them to expert instruction at NRAInstructors.org. Encourage them to join our organization, founded 150 years ago to promote civilian marksmanship skills, and one that works tirelessly to guarantee our rights remain intact. Help to pass down these time-honored traditions to a new generation.
If you are a hunter, your activity is one that remained unaffected in most places, rightfully deemed essential as a way for many Americans, especially in rural areas, to put food on their tables. Please continue to take to the field this fall and invite others to experience the outdoor lifestyle with you. Demonstrate safe, ethical hunting and proper etiquette while you share the conservation values that are the heart of hunting, an activity where physical distancing comes naturally. Prospective hunters can learn the ropes while at home by taking NRA’s free online hunter safety courses. Do your part to steer those new to hunting to NRAHE.org.
Our gun rights were under siege long before the pandemic, but, again, just when the need for personal safety could not have been clearer, they come under attack by opportunistic politicians. New and longtime gun owners need to be aware that their actions at the polls this November will affect our future as a free people, and with it, our ability to protect ourselves in future crises. Voter apathy is equivalent to a vote for anti-gun candidates. Just look at recent events in Virginia to see the disastrous policies that come from politicians bought and paid for by Michael Bloomberg when gun owners don’t make their voices heard at the ballot box. Let us not ignore the warnings of radical anti-gun politicians. When they say they intend to trample on our freedoms and restrict the rights of the law abiding, they mean it!
We must fight against any bit of complacency in the aftermath of quarantine. Be assured that many anti-gun groups have been quietly shoring up their anti-freedom tactics. I am reminded of the 19th century short story, “Rip Van Winkle,” about a lackadaisical villager who wanders into the mountains, falls asleep and awakens 20 years later, unaware he has missed the entire American Revolution and an election. When he finds his way back to town, he is asked for whom he had voted. He naively declares himself a loyal subject of King George III, a response not well-received by those who had fought for his freedom.
For your sake and our country’s sake, stay aware, stay vigilant, and stay engaged. Together, NRA members have made the difference in elections to safeguard our Constitution. And we must do so again in November to save our republic.