President's Column | Mentoring Provides Path To Achieving Life, Liberty And The Pursuit Of Happiness

at President, NRA posted on April 22, 2016
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Michael Ives

This feature appears in the May ’16 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association.  

 “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” That is the unique promise in the Declaration of Independence that sets Americans apart from every other people on the Earth. It is the essence of American freedom.

“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” When you think about it, those words also represent the core values of the National Rifle Association of America. They are the mission statement for everything we are and everything we do. But with the coming election, our heritage, our culture and the very future of liberty are all at stake.

LIFE. The NRA, through a host of programs and outreach initiatives, provides the best firearm safety instruction in the world. We train individual adults, kids, police and the military. In doing so, since our founding in 1871, we have saved countless lives.

Then consider all of our successful ongoing efforts to secure laws protecting and expanding the life-saving right to armed self-defense. 

LIBERTY. We are the oldest civil rights organization in the nation. Through our unbending efforts, we have steadfastly protected not only the Second Amendment, but the First Amendment as well—assuring that all individual Americans share the ability to assemble and speak out. 

Without the leadership of every NRA member, I have no doubt that Americans long ago would have seen the kind of tyranny that has disarmed our cousins in Australia and the United Kingdom. 

Clearly, through our joined efforts as the most effective grassroots lobby in the nation, we have used our freedom to protect those God-given rights that preserve liberty for all Americans. 

PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. That last promise of freedom is perhaps the most remarkable, especially when applied under the protection of the Second Amendment. Imagine all of the diverse activities involving firearms that individual Americans have chosen to peacefully pursue. Gun collecting, hunting, competitive shooting, plinking, scholarship, invention and history. And that’s just the beginning. In all of these activities that represent the pursuit of happiness under the Second Amendment, the NRA is leading the way. 

As I travel across the country, people ask, “What can one person do to make a difference?” How can a single individual help our cause of freedom and assure that our grandchildren and their children know the same Second Amendment liberty that we enjoy today? My answer is always the same: Be a mentor. 

Whatever your passion is involving the exercise of the right to keep and bear arms, pass it on. When I was a youngster growing up in Cincinnati, I was fortunate enough to have been mentored, first by target shooters and hunters, then by collectors—individuals who welcomed my interest; individuals whose advice and care nurtured what became lifelong passions. 

Then as an adult I discovered more mentors who gave me wonderful guidance and shared their knowledge, in my case, of high-power rifle competition. 

I have never forgotten their lessons and kindness. And I abide by the fundamental notion of paying back those good people by doing what they did for me for someone else. Being a mentor means that our wonderful past of freely exercising the Second Amendment will become a part of the new generation’s future.

Nothing that you can do is more important. Pass on the gift of passion for all we do under the protection of the Second Amendment. 

Being a mentor means that our wonderful past of freely exercising the Second Amendment will become a part of the new generation’s future. 

But with the coming election, our heritage, our culture and the very future of liberty are all at stake.  

In her bid to take the White House, Hillary Clinton has embraced the tyrannical gun confiscations that disarmed hundreds of thousands of law-abiding firearm owners of their registered guns in Australia and the United Kingdom. Furthermore, she pledged to pack the U.S. Supreme Court with liberal justices to reverse the landmark decisions penned by the late Justice Antonin Scalia upholding the Second Amendment. 

Whatever personal reasons we espouse for belonging to the NRA—firearm collecting, hunting, competition, firearm history or saving liberty itself—it all boils down to the single most important common bond among 5 million free Americans: protecting the Second Amendment. 

Especially in this most crucial political year—with the presidency, the Congress and the Supreme Court at stake—it is paramount that we all, as mentors for the preservation of the Second Amendment, educate and advise our friends, family and co-workers to prepare them to make informed decisions at the ballot box. 

The future of those three profound elements promised in the Declaration of Independence—“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”—hinges on the outcome of this election. We must keep the Second Amendment majorities in the House and especially the Senate, and we must elect a president who will carry on the vision of freedom established by the Founders.


U.S. Capitol building
U.S. Capitol building

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