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Remarks by Chris W. Cox, NRA-ILA Executive Director, at the 2006 Annual Meeting of Members in Milwaukee, WI -- 5/20/06

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Thank you, Milwaukee, for such a warm welcome. I’m in charge of the Institute for Legislative Action - the political and lobbying arm of your NRA. Our job is to keep tabs on 100 U.S. Senators, 435 U.S. Representatives, all 50 state governors, hundreds of mayors, thousands of State legislators, and on every candidate that wants any of those jobs.

So at ILA, we’re your eyes and ears. We’re your voice. And when necessary, we're your clenched iron fist that comes down hard and heavy on anybody that stands between you, and your Second Amendment freedoms.

Let me give you some examples. If drunk drivers run over pedestrians with cars, you can’t sue General Motors, right? If a thug stabs someone to death you can’t sue Buck knives, right? Well, until recently, if a criminal committed a crime with a gun, you could sue the gun maker!

In fact, America’s gun makers had spent more than a quarter of a billion dollars fighting off these bogus lawsuits. You see, the gun control community couldn’t legislate guns out of existence, so they wanted to litigate guns out of existence. You know what? It almost worked. They almost drove them all out of business.

But, in 2004, I made you a promise. I promised that with your help on Election Day, your NRA would save the American firearms industry. Well, I’m proud to report that last October, Congress finally passed our Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. And, the President signed it into law. So, lawful American gun makers will never be held liable for the acts of violent criminals again!

We’re also fighting in our state capitols for laws like the Castle Doctrine. You see, a lot of states say that you have a "duty to retreat" from criminals who attack you. I say, they have that backwards. Criminals should have to retreat from you - not the other way around. The Castle Doctrine says you no longer have a "duty to retreat" if you’re attacked in your home, your vehicle, your place of business, or anywhere else you have a legal right to be. Ten states have already passed a Castle doctrine. Speaker John Gard and State Representative Carol Owens were on the Wisconsin House floor just a few weeks ago in support of it. So, if you believe in your right to defend yourself without being prosecuted, or sued by the criminal who attacked you, and I bet you do, let’s work together and give the good people of Wisconsin the protection they deserve, with the Castle Doctrine!

We’re also fighting state by state for Worker Protection laws. It's wrong for employers to fire employees who choose to keep a legal firearm in their locked vehicles while at work. Because if you can’t safely store a firearm in your car, the right to defend yourself away from your home disappears! No company, I don’t care if it’s Wal-Mart, or Joe's Mart, can infringe on your right to defend yourself. Your boss didn’t give you that right…and we are not going to let him take it away!

You saw footage of the tyranny in New Orleans. When former Police Chief Eddie Compass gave the order to confiscate ALL firearms from EVERYONE in New Orleans...your ILA went down there...and filed a federal lawsuit demanding that Mayor Ray Nagin stop this assault on civil rights. AND WE WON.

We demanded they return the guns and when they didn’t, we sued them again... and they backed down. Now, we’re working to make sure that the laws in every state in the Country are clear - that what happened in New Orleans - will never, ever happen again. You’re hearing a theme here: your right to defend yourself! There’s a reason for that. Americans are fed up with government bureaucrats that put the rights of criminals ahead of the rights of lawful citizens.

Let me tell you a true story. Across the Wisconsin border in Des Moines, Iowa, Darlene Loudon is sitting in the waiting room at her dentist’s office. Suddenly, a man assaults her with an 8-inch knife! Just then, Darlene's husband sees what’s happening, pulls his 22-caliber handgun, and wounds the knife-wielding man before he hurts anyone else. Darlene Loudon’s husband is licensed to carry. Across the Wisconsin border in Minneapolis, Minnesota, an armed thief is on a shooting rampage in Joe Lincoln’s grocery store. Three people are injured, and more are threatened. Joe grabs his pistol, wounds the robber, and stops the shooting spree. Joe Lincoln is licensed to carry. Across the Wisconsin border in Detroit, Michigan, an ex-con named Clabe Hunt is waiting. He's waiting as 32-year-old Barbara Holland pulls into her garage. The ex-con slams her to the floor. Flat on her back, she looks up...and sees his nickel-plated pistol in her face. She thinks about her 15-year old daughter inside the house. She draws her 9mm pistol from her waist, fires, and kills Clabe Hunt. Barbara Holland is licensed to carry. These stories have one thing in common. They all happened on the other side of the Wisconsin border. Now let me tell you a true story about this side.

Last November two criminals, Maurice Mason and Bernie Frier, are sitting before a district judge up in Madison to be sentenced for a vicious rampage. First, they kidnap David Kline for ransom, but he wasn't worth any money, so they drive to an abandoned farm, bind his hands with duct tape and rope...and leave him for dead.

David Kline is found six days later, barely alive, but doctors have to amputate his hands. As the criminals leave the farm, their car gets stuck, so they call a taxi. Cab driver John Romberg drives them to Baraboo, where Mason shoots him in the head with a shotgun -- killing him.

Then on to Middleton, where both men beat and rape 22-year old Jennifer Hitchcock. Then Bernie Frier...shoots her dead. Now, I can’t tell you if David Kline, John Romberg, or Jennifer Hitchcock ever wanted a Right-to-Carry permit. But I can tell you this, in Wisconsin, they never had that choice. Because Wisconsin is one of only two states in America … one of only two states in America…that denies its residents any form of Right-to-Carry for personal protection. Why?

Why is your life worth less than someone’s life in Minnesota or Iowa or Michigan or in 45 other states? It’s not because the people don’t want Right-to-Carry.

The polls show that you do. It’s not because law enforcement doesn’t believe in self-defense. They do. Here’s how I know. It happened two miles north of here last year. A 64-year-old man from Yorktown,

Arkansas, stopped at a gas station to ask for directions. Suddenly, four young men, at least three with prior records, shoved a gun in his face and demanded his van and his money. They punched him, took his walking cane and beat him with it. The "old man" from Arkansas pulled a gun from under his car seat, and shot one attacker dead.

The rest fled, but were later caught by police. That 64-year-old man was licensed to carry in Arkansas. But that permit meant nothing here. He was in big trouble with Wisconsin law - for saving his own life. But Assistant D.A. Karen Loebel chose not to prosecute him.

I guess she thinks it’s better to defend yourself than die. And so do the majority of Wisconsin voters! But not your Governor. Two times in the past three years, your legislature passed a personal protection act. And both times Governor Jim Doyle vetoed it. Does Jim Doyle think it’s better to be robbed and beaten to death, than to do what that Arkansas man did? If Jim Doyle was attacked like that, I don’t think he’d practice what he preaches and send all his armed bodyguards home for the day. Then turn over his car keys and say, "Boys, I’m yours for the taking". Who does he think he is? Denying you rights he keeps for himself? Right here in Milwaukee, the number of homicides has increased nearly 40% in the past year. It’s time for this to stop!

Governor Doyle and his allies need to explain why they don’t trust the people who elected them, who pay their salaries and who pick up the tab for their armed security 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year!

The truth is, in Right-to-Carry states not all gun owners actually choose to get a concealed carry permit. But the criminals don’t know which ones do. When the wolves can’t tell the sheep from the lions, everyone is safer. But in Wisconsin, the wolves know that everyone is a sheep! Think about it: If you’re an armed criminal, do you choose to rob, rape or murder in a state with Right-to-Carry? Or do you choose Wisconsin, where the Governor might as well make you wear a t-shirt that says, "I’M WITH STUPID … AND WE’RE BOTH DISARMED AND DEFENSELESS."

You’ve got to hand it to the Wisconsin legislature - they almost overrode Doyle’s veto. But they failed by two votes, because Representatives John Steinbrink and Terry Van Akkeren switched sides and stabbed you in the back in the dark of night! Folks, it’s time to get rid of politicians who play partisan politics with your rights and with your life! So, if you want a Castle Doctrine in Wisconsin…DUMP DOYLE! If you want Lawsuit Pre-emption in Wisconsin, come on now, say it with me…DUMP DOYLE! If you want Worker Protection in Wisconsin…DUMP DOYLE! And if you ever want a Personal Protection Act in Wisconsin…let them hear you in Madison...DUMP DOYLE, and replace him with a true friend of the Second Amendment, MARK GREEN!

Well, my time is almost up. But, friends, we’ve got some big races coming up in November that will pave the way for the Second Amendment shootout of all time in the 2008 elections. From Mark Kennedy in Minnesota to Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania to Jim Talent in Missouri, and Conrad Burns in Montana. This November’s elections are more important than ever. Let me tell you why. If we don’t make sure that our pro-gun friends are re-elected this November, then the gun haters Hall of Shame, Ted Kennedy, Chuck Schumer, John Kerry and Dianne Feinstein will control the U.S. Congress next year, along with their friends Nancy Pelosi and John "Lets Ban All Handguns" Conyers. And in 2008, you can bet they’ll be back here in Milwaukee, campaigning for Hillary Clinton for President.

Friends, let’s make damn sure that our brave men & women in uniform NEVER have to salute HER as their Commander in Chief! It’s time to unite, fight, and make our politicians do what’s right. And if they won’t - that clenched, iron fist called the NRA will pound them to political pulp and leave them in the ash heap of history where freedom’s patriots always dispose of freedom’s enemies.

Thank you very much.


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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.