The remarks below are from a speech delivered by Wayne LaPierre at the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 3rd of this year.
I have a profound appreciation for the checks and balances, guaranteed individual rights and constitutional republic our Founding Fathers established. I believe this country is different than others in a noble and virtuous way.
But I have learned that our freedoms need to be protected. By all of us. In fact, I’ve spent much of my career fighting for the Second Amendment.
Today, we are on the cusp of losing our Founders’ vision forever. Anti-gun, anti-freedom politicians are shamelessly and illegally using the awesome power of government to trample those rights, to exact revenge on their political adversaries and to destroy organizations and individuals who get in the way of their personal political agendas.
Let me tell you very specifically what I’m talking about. Back in 2016, when polls confirmed that the men and women of the NRA played a major role in defeating Hillary Clinton, our political opponents embarked on a sinister scheme to wipe NRA off the political map.
They plotted to weaponize the offices of state attorneys general in nearly every anti-gun jurisdiction in the United States, including in New York, with the governor’s office and the Department of Financial Services—which is as powerful as any financial regulatory body in America, including the federal government.
To put it simply, they unleashed the vast power of state governments and regulatory agencies in an attempt to crush and destroy us.
It started in New York with disgraced then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Maria Vullo, who was head of the Financial Services Department. They sent letters to the CEOs of banks and insurance companies across the country, making it clear that unless their financial institutions stopped doing business with NRA, they would find themselves in the crosshairs of New York government agents—to be harassed, hassled and persecuted into submission.
They tried to blacklist the NRA. In fact, Cuomo stated it plainly when he said, “If I could have put the NRA out of business, I would have done it 20 years ago.”
This blatant weaponization of government power was designed for one purpose only: to silence our voices and thus to destroy the power of our collective fight for freedom. To cut out our tongues. They want to force NRA to shut its doors forever.
This wasn’t some backroom scheme. It was all out in the open! In fact, their own press release warned that companies doing business with NRA, “had a responsibility to act” and would suffer “reputational risks” if they continued partnering with the National Rifle Association or any other pro-Second Amendment organization.
Cuomo even publicly bragged: “The regulations New York put in place are working. We’re forcing the NRA into financial jeopardy. We won’t stop until we shut them down.”
Well, the men and women of the NRA didn’t shrink from this fight. In fact, we sued them. Successfully! A senior judge in New York three times overruled motions to dismiss our claims. The NRA was headed toward its day in court.
But late last year, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals shockingly reversed a portion of the decision of the trial court and dismissed the NRA’s claims. This decision, if allowed to stand, would mean that any politician or government agency can use their nearly infinite powers to destroy any person, company or organization they consider to be a political enemy.
This is one of the most-chilling decisions ever rendered by a federal appellate court in our nation’s history.
The stakes couldn’t be higher.
And so, the National Rifle Association of America has filed a petition with the United States Supreme Court, seeking a review of one of the most important First Amendment cases in our nation’s history!
Because this case will decide if every American still has guaranteed freedom of speech and assembly, or if government officials can weaponize their powers to take down anyone they don’t like.
For decades, tens of millions of American gun owners and patriots have stood together under the NRA banner and fought for our Second Amendment freedom. Not with guns, not with violence, but passionately and peacefully with our First Amendment rights.
The most powerful weapon we have is our collective voice. Our strong, collective voice wins elections. Our strong, collective voice secures the Second Amendment rights of all Americans at every level of government.
And our strong, collective voice depends entirely on our First Amendment freedom to assemble, speak freely and advocate for the causes we hold dear. You know as well as I do, if the government can take away our First Amendment freedom, our Second Amendment freedom and every other freedom is not far behind.
I’m asking you to get off the sidelines and join the NRA! Fight back, save the First Amendment and save America!