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Remarks by Wayne R. LaPierre, NRA Executive Vice President, at the NRA 2006 Annual Meeting in Milwaukee, WI -- 5/20/06

Saturday, May 20, 2006

I had not planned to mention this, but Mayor Tom Barrett’s behavior since we came to town makes me think he spent too much time hanging out with New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg a couple of weeks ago. Tom Barrett went to Mike Bloomberg’s meeting of big-city mayors in New York City to talk about big-city crime and that’s the problem. They’re all talk and no action. Mike Bloomberg, if you really want to stop violent crime, you don’t need to spend taxpayer’s money to throw parties for mayors and hold seminars and schedule photo ops...and act like violent crime is some new problem with some secret solution.

It’s real simple. If you want to get crime off your streets, get criminals off your streets! Mayor Bloomberg, it’s not rocket science. NRA has supported putting bad guys behind bars for decades - and it works. Mayor Bloomberg, talk gets headlines. But prosecuting criminals gets results. And the people want results! I’ll make you a deal, Mike Bloomberg. Here’s what you do. Walk down to Town Hall and tell your prosecuting attorneys that from now on, no plea bargains, no reduced charges, no dropped cases. A drug dealer caught with a gun goes to jail. A violent felon caught with a gun goes to jail. Discharge a gun in commission of a felony, go to jail. Smuggle a gun, go to jail. If you do that, if you stop talking and start acting, your violent crime rate will drop 30-40-50% in one year.

Do that -- get behind the NRA -- and we’ll go to Congress to get funding to do it in every big city in the country. But Mike Bloomberg, if you want to tell us the rights of four million NRA members cause your crime problems, your political life is gonna get even more complicated. Because we’re going to ask you to make a promise I bet you won’t make. Here's what I'm talkin' about...Ever since last September, NRA members have been asking me, "What really happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina? Is it true they took away peoples’ guns?" From the day that Hurricane hit, we were on the ground in New Orleans with NRA news crews, investigators, and with our members living through the nightmare. And the truth is this: In the aftermath of Katrina, and for the first time in American history, New Orleans and other government officials ordered law enforcement officers to go door-to-door to confiscate firearms from law-abiding citizens at gunpoint.

You're about to see footage that's never been seen about a story that hasn't been told. Please turn your attention to the screens, and see for yourself what really happened when the Second Amendment was revoked by a New Orleans police chief. Please watch.»[ROLL VIDEO]

That wasn’t some foreign country. That was in the United States of America. Now, Milwaukee Deputy Police Chief Brian O'Keefe said what you just saw didn't happen. If it didn't happen, why did a federal judge order it to stop?

Waukesha Police Chief Les Sharrock said guns were not confiscated. If they weren't confiscated, why did a federal judge order them returned? West Bend Police Chief Kenneth Meuler said he's not a fan of the NRA. Is he a fan of the U.S. Constitution? I’ve got something very personal to say to them, and to Mike Wallace, and the Katie Courics, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and every other anti-gun journalist and media conglomerate who buried this story. I’ve got something very personal to say to Chuck Schumer, and Dianne Feinstein, and Barbara Boxer, and Nancy Pelosi, and John Kerry, and Mayor Tom Barrett, and Governor Jim Doyle, and Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and every other gun-hating politician, mayor, and police chief who can hear me. I’ve got something very personal to say to the Brady Campaign, and so-called Americans for Gun Safety, and the so-called Million Mom March, and George Soros, and Michael Moore, Rebecca Peters, and the United Nations, and to every other gun-hating group and Hollywood loudmouth in America. For twenty-five long years you’ve been telling us: "The government is not gonna knock on doors to take peoples’ guns. Come on Wayne. You're just trying to scare people. Nobody's ever going to do that. That'll never happen!"

Well it did happen, and for the next twenty-five years we’ll be telling you: REMEMBER NEW ORLEANS! Hurricane Katrina proved what American gun owners have always predicted that government bureaucrats would throw the Bill of Rights out the window and declare that your freedom is whatever they say it is. The lesson of New Orleans is that when disaster hits, citizens have to rely on themselves.

And the ultimate underpinning of personal survival is the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. The lesson of New Orleans is that all those politicians who said government and police will be there to protect you in a disaster are naïve at best and liars at worst. The lesson of New Orleans is that you can’t count on government to protect you. But you can count on the looters, robbers, rapists, and armed gangs to show up right on time, every time, to prey on the vulnerable, law-abiding, unarmed citizens.

Katrina blew a gaping hole in constitutional freedom that a convoy of confiscators will roll through until we roadblock them. Well, when the Second Amendment is only as good as your mayor or your police chief says it is - your NRA gets busy!

The first step we’re taking is this: The NRA is asking every mayor and police chief in America to sign a pledge that says they will never forcibly disarm the law-abiding citizens of their town or city. For example, Mayor Tom Barrett should pledge that he will never forcibly disarm the law-abiding citizens of Milwaukee. It’s a no-brainer. Mayors and police chiefs have already sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution in their oaths of office.

So signing this pledge should be just as easy. And it will tell Americans, once and for all, whose side their local leaders are on. The lesson of New Orleans is that it can happen anywhere. So no matter where you live, your mayor and your police chief should sign this pledge. And if they won’t sign this pledge, here’s what you say: Tell me why! Tell me, in writing, exactly the scenario where it’s okay for you to come into my house and disarm me. You’re paying their salaries, and for their armed security. So they should tell you under exactly what circumstances you should agree to be forcibly disarmed. Well, I’ve got news for them. There is no such thing. There is no scenario when it’s okay for government to come into my house and disarm me - not now, not ever. Let me be clear. Don't let anybody tell you this is the NRA against rank and file police. Nothing is further from the truth. This is about NRA stopping police chiefs and mayors, or any bureaucrat, from ordering rank and file police to do what they know is wrong. That's why rank and file police and military agree with us.

I met a lot of them down in New Orleans. They hated what they saw. That's how we found the plaintiffs in our court case. They were horrified when they were ordered to confiscate citizens’ firearms. Rank and file officers don’t want political leaders who make them instruments of tyranny to disarm their fellow townsmen, which means their own friends and families. A catastrophe does not give a bureaucrat super-sized authority to trump individual rights "just because they say so." But that’s exactly what they did in New Orleans, and there was no person, and no law to stop such outrageous behavior, which leads me to the second step we’re going to take.

The NRA is supporting new state and federal legislation that makes it a crime to forcibly disarm law-abiding citizens! And violation should result in arrest and hard prison time for whoever gave the order! If you think that sounds extreme, I’ll tell you what’s extreme. When there’s been a complete collapse of the government’s ability at the federal, state and local level to protect anybody. When people need the means to protect themselves the most and their government comes knocking on their doors to confiscate their one source of comfort that can save their lives and families! That’s what’s extreme! If you are in a position of public authority, and you use it to disarm law-abiding citizens, you’re not going to get your hand slapped, or pay a fine, or get scolded by some judge a few months down the line. You’re going to be arrested on the spot and you’re going to jail!

That’s how we’re going to make the first time in New Orleans the last time in America. That is the condition under which we lawful gun owners give our consent to be governed, period! It comes down to this. Another huge disaster is inevitable - the bird flu, a dirty nuke, an earthquake, a flood, a chemical spill, maybe another Katrina. Before that happens, make them pass that legislation, and make them sign that pledge. And when some arrogant politician looks at you and asks "Why?" look them straight in the face and say: REMEMBER NEW ORLEANS! When Jim Doyle says you don’t need the right to carry, look them straight in the face and say: REMEMBER NEW ORLEANS! When Tom Barrett refuses to sign that pledge, look him straight in the face and say: REMEMBER NEW ORLEANS! When Chuck Schumer says they’ll never confiscate your guns, look him straight in the face and say: REMEMBER NEW ORLEANS! And when Hillary Clinton says the Second Amendment isn’t really relevant in 21st century America: look her straight in the face and say: REMEMBER NEW ORLEANS! In every city across America, let them hear you: REMEMBER NEW ORLEANS! And never, never, never forget!

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.