"Being a part of this group, you know that good organizations don’t just happen. They take root in a body of shared beliefs. They grow strong from leadership with vision, initiative and determination to reach great goals. And what you’ve accomplished speaks for itself … NRA’s getting stronger every day."
Those words, spoken by President Ronald Reagan at our NRA Annual Meeting nearly 40 years ago, perfectly encapsulate everything that makes our proud Association the most-successful civil-rights organization in American history.
In fact, it’s no understatement to say that the vision, initiative and determination shared by you, me and millions of our fellow members has fueled the greatest restoration of freedom this nation has ever seen. Just think about it. There are precious few freedoms over the past several decades that haven’t been negatively impacted, or entirely eliminated, by government’s ever-constricting regulatory and legal chokehold.
And no freedom during that time has been subject to a more vicious, coordinated and well-funded daily assault than the Second Amendment.
Yet, our right to keep and bear arms is stronger and more secure today than it was 40 years ago! And for one reason only: the dogged determination, consistent courage, and unbreakable spirit of the men and women of the National Rifle Association.
Forty years ago, you couldn’t legally travel throughout the U.S. with your firearms due to crippling laws and regulations. Today, you can, thanks to NRA.
Forty years ago, the Gun Control Act still hovered over our rights like the sword of Damocles. But today the threat has been mitigated, thanks to NRA members helping to rewrite the act in favor of our freedom.
Forty years ago, government officials assumed the power to confiscate guns in a state of emergency, like they did after Hurricane Katrina, and leave gun owners defenseless at a time when we need our firearms the most. Today, they can’t, thanks to NRA members who led the way to pass emergency power laws.
Forty years ago, the American firearms industry was threatened with extinction from predatory, frivolous, anti-gun lawsuits. Today, that’s no longer the case, thanks to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act—made possible by NRA members.
Forty years ago, fewer than a handful of states legally recognized their citizens’ right to carry a firearm for self-defense. Today, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have provisions for concealed carry and more than 40 have “shall-issue” laws. And, most recently, 25 states have now passed constitutional-carry laws, so law-abiding gun owners don’t need to seek any government permission to exercise their fundamental right to carry a firearm for self-defense. Every one of these victories was made possible by the men and women of the NRA.
Forty years ago, anti-gun politicians and their lap dogs in the media were hell-bent on gutting the Second Amendment—claiming that it did not confer an individual right to own and carry firearms. Through the landmark Heller and McDonald Supreme Court decisions, we crushed that lie, and affirmed what our Founding Fathers wrote plainly in the Second Amendment: Our right to keep and bear arms is a guaranteed, natural and individual right that no government can take away from us!
I could go on. There are too many monumental legislative, judicial and electoral victories to list.
As many of us look forward to gathering in Houston, Texas, for our big Annual Meeting and celebration just weeks from now, I know that every NRA member won’t be able to join us. I won’t be able to personally shake all your hands and thank you for everything you’ve done to change the course of history for our Second Amendment freedom.
But please know this. I hope you’ll never forget it: As an NRA member, you, more than anyone else in this country—more than any member of a political party or other group or association—it’s you who keeps freedom alive. You are the reason America is still the great hope of the world.
It’s in the way you live your lives. The way you raise your families. The way you persevere in your work and sacrifice your time for NRA and the noble cause we share.
It’s you who have the bold, clear vision of enduring freedom, who take the initiative to fight for it, and who maintain the courage and determination, no matter what the odds, to see every fight to a victorious end.
Because of you, we have much to celebrate in Houston. More than that, we have an opportunity—with all eyes of the nation upon us—to show America that the path to freedom runs through a strong and unified NRA!