The following is taken from a speech delivered by Wayne LaPierre on May 28, 2022, at the Annual Meeting of NRA Members.
We have inherited a great freedom, and not by accident. We inherited it thanks to the diligence, hard work and sacrifice of generations of Americans who came before us—from so many who not only fought for it, but also died for it. And we are charged with continuing that great legacy handed down to us.
Just 40 years ago, this freedom you and I know, love and enjoy was teetering on the edge of extinction. The national debate wasn’t about whether we could carry firearms, but whether we could even own them. It wasn’t about whether gun owners should be licensed and registered, but how government should go about doing it. I know many of you in this room remember that time. A reasonable person could have surveyed the political landscape 40 years ago and concluded that gun ownership in America would soon be outlawed, gone, reduced to a relic of history, as has been the case in so many other countries over the past several decades.
But what happened instead? Freedom-loving patriots saw the writing on the wall. We saw a precious freedom under attack. We saw a national movement dedicated to the destruction of our most-fundamental right. Our response was not resignation. It wasn’t to abandon hope or give up against the overwhelming odds, or perhaps to move on to another important issue and leave the Second Amendment for the political wolves to devour. No. Our answer was to band together under the NRA banner and fight back!
The results speak for themselves. Forty years ago, you couldn’t legally travel throughout the country with your firearms because of crippling laws and regulations. Today, you can, thanks to the members of the NRA. Back then, the Gun Control Act of 1968 was threatening to flat-out demolish our gun rights. Today, the threat is gone, thanks to NRA members who helped rewrite that law in favor of our freedom. For far too long, government officials had the power to confiscate our guns in a state of emergency and leave us 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. For decades, the American firearms industry was threatened with extinction from predatory, 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, a mere handful of states legally recognized their citizens’ right to carry a firearm for self-defense. Today, more than 40 states have right-to-carry laws on the books. In fact, 25 states have now passed constitutional-carry laws, so you don’t need to ask for government permission to exercise your fundamental right to self-defense.
Every one of these victories was made possible by the relentless fighting spirit of the men and women of the NRA, who have devoted themselves to a singular, all-important endeavor: Defending the Second Amendment every day, in every venue and in every election. As NRA members, we’re not distracted by whatever manufactured outrage is being drummed up by politicians and the media on any given day. We keep a laser focus, and we fight every single day. Not only when a big gun-ban debate is taking place in Congress. Not only in the next big election for president, or Congress or governor. And not just in the face of tragic events, when politicians and demagogues try to scapegoat us and our gun rights.
When I see someone in an NRA hat or jacket, I know we share core beliefs and a connection to the fabric of what is right, what is true and what keeps us free. I know that you will never submit, succumb, surrender or be manipulated. That you stand on principle. That is why the Second Amendment is stronger today than it was generations ago. And that’s why all of you have my admiration, respect and everlasting thanks. Not only for what you’ve accomplished, but for what we’ll all accomplish together in the months and years ahead.
My friends, don’t you feel it in your gut that the threat has never been closer? The heart and soul of our nation is at stake this November. And there is no other membership organization in the country capable of tipping an election in favor of freedom than NRA; no other organization in the country whose members have the collective will, the guts and the sheer determination to fight, press on and win when freedom is on the line. It’s us, or it’s no one.
We will not be intimidated. We will rise to the challenge, just as we have in every election. We will fight like hell to restore a pro-Second Amendment majority in Congress. And we will put an airtight lid on Biden’s gun-ban agenda for the rest of his time in office. We protect a precious freedom we inherited, and not by accident. For us, there is one issue paramount among all others: The Right to Keep and Bear Arms shall not be infringed! And as long as patriots like you continue to band together and fight under the NRA banner, it will not be!