It’s been three long years since NRA has been able to hold its regular Annual Meetings & Exhibits, which means it has also been three years since the last NRA-ILA Leadership Forum. In May, that drought came to an end over Memorial Day Weekend in Houston, Texas.
Sadly, the horrific event that took place in Uvalde, Texas, shortly before our gathering cast a somber mood over our proceedings. And, although anti-gun extremists tried to blame NRA and its millions of law-abiding members for the sickening actions of a deranged madman—even calling for NRA to cancel the event—we were not to be deterred.
The last time the Leadership Forum was held in 2019, President Donald Trump not only spoke to the crowd, but also publicly signed a letter to the U.S. Senate announcing his decision to withdraw the United States from the disastrous United Nations Arms Trade Treaty. This year, Trump was back, and joined by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, and North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson.
The event was truly moving, with every speaker offering heartfelt condolences and respect for the lives tragically cut short just days earlier, while reminding those in attendance, along with the millions watching the event, that there are ways to respond to such tragedies that can better ensure they are not repeated.
While gun-ban proponents continue to point to expanding gun-control policies that consistently fail to stop criminals and psychopaths, the message at the Leadership Forum was nearly uniform: protect our children by protecting our schools, fix our broken mental-health system, prosecute criminals and expand the ability of law-abiding citizens to be able to defend themselves, their loved ones and their communities.
It was also an opportunity to look to the future, although not that far. The 2022 midterm elections are right around the corner, and another oft-repeated message was for NRA members and those who support the Second Amendment to be prepared to take part in our efforts to elect pro-gun majorities in the U.S. House and Senate this November. This election will be critical to curtailing the Biden administration’s repeated attacks on law-abiding gun owners by restoring the “check” of a pro-gun Congress on this administration that has proven that it is determined to attack the Second Amendment at any opportunity.
NRA Executive Vice President
“We here today, and millions more like us, are patriotic Americans. The heart and soul of this country. We love our children, grandchildren, friends and family. And that’s why we will always value, cherish and protect our fundamental human right to defend ourselves, our communities and our loved ones with our Second Amendment right to bear arms.”
Former U.S. President
“This is not a matter of money; this is a matter of will … we should be able to do whatever it takes to keep our children safe at home.
“We are going to preserve our heritage. We are going to defend our rights. We are going to protect our communities, protect our schools and protect our precious children. We are going to secure our liberties for ourselves and for every future generation.”
“Let’s focus on what works: stopping the bad guys, imprisoning violent criminals and protecting our vulnerable.
“What stops armed bad guys is armed good guys. Like Stephen Willeford: the heroic plumber and NRA Rifle Instructor who grabbed his AR-15 and ran barefoot to stop the murderer at Sutherland Springs. Or the Border Patrol Tactical Unit who finally killed the Uvalde monster.”
Lieutenant Governor (R-N.C.)
“The time for messin’ around is over, folks, and the time for blaming law-abiding citizens should have never begun.
“Don’t be afraid to stand up for what’s right, because what we’re standing up for, indeed, is right. Stand strong. Stand brave. Stand proud. Do not back down. And never forget ‘shall not be infringed.’ That is our motto, and that’s what we will fight for.”
Executive Director, NRA Institute for Legislative Action
“Over the last 10 years, we have called for more funding to secure our schools and help protect our teachers and children … for more resources to give teachers and mental-health experts the ability to help kids in need … for fixing our broken mental-health system once and for all. And, sadly, none of this has been done. Government can somehow find a way to print huge sums of money for hundreds of pet projects, but they can’t seem to find money to secure our schools and fix our broken mental-health system. That’s just not right!”
“Why is it OK for some to have guns and others not? Why do we protect our banks, our stores and our celebrities with armed guards, but not our children? Are they not, truly, our greatest treasure? If we limit the average citizen from having a firearm, will that keep those who choose to ignore the law from accessing one as well?”