This article appears in the July 2017 issues of the Official Journals of the National Rifle Association.
The drumbeat of fake news continues as the elites disappointed by the 2016 election dedicate themselves to “resisting” the Trump administration.
Among their many false narratives is that Americans are no longer interested in firearms now that Barack Obama is out of the White House.
At least two big groups of people didn’t get that memo.
One is comprised of the 2,045,564 Americans who were queried through the FBI’s firearm background check database in April 2017. This was the second busiest April ever for that system. In fact, each month of Trump’s presidency has seen over two million firearm-related background checks. Only in 2016, when Americans faced losing their Second Amendment rights forever, did the FBI run more checks during a January to April period.
The other group included the nearly 82,000 people who attended the NRA’s Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Atlanta, Georgia in late April. This was our second-highest total of attendees ever. Fifteen acres of guns and gear on display at the Georgia World Congress Center said all that needed to be said about the vitality of America’s firearms industry.
But those weren’t the only encouraging signs that greeted the NRA’s extended family reunion in the Peach State. Our Annual Leadership Forum drew an impressive line-up of speakers. Besides three sitting U.S. Senators (Georgia’s David Purdue, Alabama’s Luther Strange, and Texas’ Ted Cruz), we heard from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Florida Governor Rick Scott. Lt. Col. Allen West and Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke provided a distinguished presence from the uniformed ranks. And rounding out the guest list were Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, former Major League Baseball great Adam LaRoche, and campus carry advocate Antonia Okafor.
But that was just the undercard, as it were. Because for only the second time in the NRA’s history, we welcomed the sitting President of the United States (the last one before him being Ronald Reagan in 1983). For those of us who were on the front lines of the brutal 2016 election (and that included every NRA member present), it was not only an honor to have President Trump address the NRA, but one of the clearest possible lessons of the power the common person still holds in American democracy.
I began my remarks with a montage of film clips showing condescending figures from the political, media, and entertainment establishments dismissing Trump’s chances of winning the election, contrasted with footage of the partnership forged between the NRA and Donald Trump. NRA members have always stood apart from the prevailing winds of elite opinion and political correctness to focus on the enduring values that have bound our country together from the beginning.
That resolve was never as evident or necessary as in 2016, when the fate of our country and the Second Amendment literally hung in the balance of the presidential contest. On the one hand was globalist and Second Amendment opponent Hillary Clinton, who claimed that the Supreme Court was “wrong” to recognize an individual right to keep and bear arms. On the other was Donald Trump, who had a Second Amendment position paper on his campaign website that began, “The Second Amendment to our Constitution is clear. The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed upon. Period.” At stake was which of them would appoint the Second Amendment’s tie-breaking vote on the U.S. Supreme Court.
By the time President Trump addressed the crowd in Atlanta, he had already made that appointment by filling the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat with another constitutional originalist, Neil M. Gorsuch. Once again, we have a majority of support on the Court for our right to keep a gun in our home for self-defense.
President Trump had many stirring things to say during his address. But the line all of us will remember most is when he assured the members of the NRA: “you came through for me, and I am going to come through for you.”
More than that, however, you – the NRA’s members – came through for America and for the freedoms we hold dear. And American democracy and its elevation of the common man and woman came through for all of us.
As ever, the fight for America’s soul will continue. But that Friday in Atlanta showed with the utmost clarity it is one we can win.