Declaring that National Rifle Association members “have always been the good guys,” NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre told a lively audience Saturday that “No one fights harder, longer or stronger” than the five-million member organization.
Addressing the annual members’ meeting at the Indianapolis Convention Center, LaPierre lamented that the character of the nation is at risk, and that the NRA is not “out of date; we are not out of step.” It is a message he has delivered before, and with Saturday’s recitation, it signaled the launch of an effort that LaPierre promised would only end with the election of a new administration.
“And let there be absolutely no doubt about it,” he said. “We will be there at the polls in November, and in the November after that, and we won’t rest until November of 2016 — not until we’ve stood up as America’s good guys and taken back the White House.”
Even with a couple of thousand people in the audience, the exhibit hall was jammed, with thousands more roaming the aisles. Many will chat comfortably about getting out the vote this fall, and they were not deterred by an anti-gun rights demonstration staged by billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s $50 million “grassroots” campaign, “Everytown for Gun Safety."
LaPierre used the opportunity to launch a video countering Bloomberg and his big money effort. The message is that Bloomberg has millions of dollars, while there are millions of gun owners with $25 apiece they can use to build a war chest to fight him.
Gun owners far outnumbered those protesters, and the NRA exhibit hall was jammed with families, new shooters, old shooters and lots of people in between. There was a strong female presence, and NRA President Jim Porter, in his address to the members’ meeting, reminded the audience that there are an estimated 30 million female firearms owners, and women constitute the fastest-growing gun owner market.
Chris Cox, head of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, also delivered a rousing speech that touched on school intolerance, and Bloomberg’s campaign. He said Bloomberg can neither “lie his way, buy his way nor bully his way” into stripping Second Amendment rights from millions of American gun owners.
If enthusiasm and energy are any gauge, this crowd will go back home — wherever home happens to be — with an eagerness to rouse the grassroots troops and make LaPierre’s forecast come true. The convention wraps up Sunday with a full schedule of seminars and more activity on the exhibit hall floor.