By Robert M. Hausman
While the theme this year at the 137th Annual Meetings & Exhibits of the National Rifle Association was a “Celebration of American Values,” the NRA leadership warned of a major political storm approaching over gun rights.
Held at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Kentucky, May 16-18, this well-attended event drew over 66,300 people to the meetings. The exhibit hall, which contained the booths of firearms and accessory makers, gun collectors and hunting trip outfitters, boasted over 400 exhibitors.
During the Annual Meeting of Members, NRA Executive Vice President, Wayne R. LaPierrre, warned of a “perfect storm” (in the political sense) approaching for those who cherish Second Amendment freedoms.
After showing a series of filmed interviews with residents of New Orleans who had their firearms confiscated by police in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, LaPierre said the political storm approaching is the worst he has seen in the thirty years he has been working for the NRA.
“Behind every anti-gun law, or candidate, or editorial, or movie is a ruling class that can’t stand you taking responsibility for your own safety,” LaPierre declared. “The ruling class wants you to believe that they’ll protect you so that you will be dependent on them.”
Citing such self-appointed “ruling classes” as Time, Newsweek, 60 Minutes, Sarah Brady, and the United Nations, LaPierre said they all believe the same “elite conceit” – you shouldn’t protect yourself; the Government should. “But we know there’s a little problem with that – they don’t give a damn about you! They couldn’t care less about your safety. That’s the bald-faced truth… that’s the one constant that runs across all the ruling classes and it’s killing the Second Amendment. They all say you can’t be trusted with responsibility for your own protection.
“Huricane Katrina should’ve taught this nation that the elites who say they’ll protect everyone…won’t protect anyone! Those hurricane victims couldn’t count on police, electricity, or phones; you couldn’t call 9-1-1. But they could count on the looters, and the rapists, and the robbers, who all arrived right on time. And that’s when the ruling class ordered troops door-to-door to confiscate the good guys’ firearms – at gunpoint – when they needed their guns the most” …during “the first forced gun confiscation in American history.”
LaPierre went on to cite examples of how the “elite ruling class” has fought NRA’s efforts at enacting “Castle Doctrine” laws (that allow folks to defend themselves within their homes), protecting workers who keep firearms in their parked vehicles in company parking lots, undoing the repressive firearms regulations of Washington, D.C. and New York City, as well as the global gun ban schemes of the United Nations.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun,” LaPierre asserted, “is a good guy with a gun. Instant responders are always better than first responders. Because instant responders can prevent the kind of tragedy that first responders can only clean up.”
In closing, LaPierre said that despite the billions spent by the “elite conceit” to mold public opinion, Americans are not buying the disinformation. Every public opinion poll comes down on the pro-gun side. “Year-after-year, more Americans say the NRA speaks for them, than does the Democratic or Republican Parties, the U.S. Congress, or The New York Times,” LaPierre concluded.
Chris W. Cox executive director of the NRA’s lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, cited recent political achievements:
- True Right-to-Carry is a reality in 40 states.
- Castle Doctrine laws have been passed in 22 states so far.
- Hunter protection laws are in place in all 50 states.
- Range protection laws and state preemption laws are in effect in 47 states.
- The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act is working to protect the firearms industry from frivolous lawsuits.
- Worker Protection laws, that would stop employees from getting fired for keeping firearms in their vehicles on company property, are being considered by numerous state legislatures.
Cox warned that these achievements could be stifled if either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama are elected President in November. Citing the infamous perfect anti-gun voting records of both candidates, Cox picked up on the remarks of Obama at a private fundraiser for San Francisco millionaires during which Obama mischaracterized average gun owners as being so bitter about their sorry lives that they cling to God and their guns.
“Well Barack, we are bitter and we should be!” Cox retorted. “We should be bitter that these elitist hypocritical snobs try to play us for a bunch of fools. We should be bitter that Hillary and Obama look gun owners in the eye and lie about their support for the Second Amendment. But when Hillary and Obama mouth off like they have and vote like they have and lie like they have and trample Second Amendment freedoms like they have, you bet the members of this proud Association are bitter. For gun owners across America, this is how bitter looks and sounds. And come November…let’s show ‘em how bitter votes!” Cox concluded.
John McCain’s Remarks
Likely Republican Party Presidential nominee Sen. John McCain appeared and spoke to the NRA membership as well. Stressing that since he first ran for Congress in 1982, he has opposed efforts to ban gun shows, ban ammunition, ban magazines and ban so-called “assault weapons,” as well as waiting periods for gun purchases.
McCain was forthright enough to admit, however, that he hasn’t always agreed with the NRA on every issue. He detailed his support for NICS background checks for firearms sales at gun shows which he called “a reasonable requirement.” He noted that he opposes federal regulation of all private sales such as transfers between family members.
Campaign finance reform is another area of disagreement between McCain and the NRA that the senator touched on. The McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act was legislation that McCain helped draft and which NRA has opposed since its inception as it restricts lobbying activity. McCain said the intent of his bill, which is now law, was to change the way campaigns were financed as he said elected officials were formerly being influenced to put the interests of donors ahead of the public interest. “It is neither my purpose nor the purpose of the legislation to prevent gun owners or any other group of citizens from making their voices heard in the legislative process,” McCain said.
McCain went on to emphasize what he said is a clear difference between his candidacy and that of Sens. Obama and Clinton, “If either…is elected President, the rights of law-abiding gun owners will be at risk,” he stressed.
He recalled how Sen. Clinton was quick to affirm her support for the Second Amendment after the uproar over Sen. Obama’s remark that gun owners cling to guns and religion out of bitterness. Clinton’s actions prompted Obama to make another remark that backfired on him: “She’s running around talking about how this is an insult to sportsmen, how she values the Second Amendment. Like she’s in the duck blind every Sunday, packin’ a six shooter!” McCain added the comment, “Someone should tell Senator Obama that ducks are usually hunted with shotguns.”
The NRA had not endorsed a candidate for president during the time of the Annual Meetings.
This year’s banquet speaker was nationally syndicated political commentator Glenn Beck who gave an entertaining presentation on current events as well as a touching and frank discussion of his rise from abject poverty to prominence and affluence in a short period of time. In keeping with tradition, NRA President John C. Sigler, presented Beck with a custom flintlock rifle at the conclusion of his address.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was introduced to the membership as a “fast rising political star.” Jindal addressed the membership and spoke of the gun-grabbing atrocities afflicted on the law-abiding by the police and national guardsmen in his state in the aftermath of Hurrican Katrina. At the conclusion of his address, Jindal was presented with The Harlon B. Carter Award by Christopher Cox.
Latest Firearm & Accessory Products
On the convention floor, acres of the latest firearms and related products were shown and available for handling by attendees. While it is not possible to cover everything that was seen, here are some highlights.
Taurus is now offering its popular 1911-style pistol with “Bull’s Head Walnut” grips. These new premium walnut wood grips are checkered with a unique combination of the European stipple and American checkering patterns. The result is a most handsome and distinctive set of grips and are available on both the blued and stainless version of the Taurus 1911 or can be purchased separately.
In the rifle arena was the new M1 Carbine in a paratrooper walnut folding stock model produced by Auto-Ordnance. Specs include an under 36-inch length and a 26-inch length with the stock folded (making for a very compact package), 18-inch barrel, weight of 5 lbs. 6 oz., parkerized finish, blade front and flip style rear sight. It is furnished with one 15-round magazine. Overall fit and finish seems better than on the originals.
In the optics segment, Trijicon, Inc. has introduced a new addition to its AccuPoint line of riflescopes, the 3-9×40 crosshair – part of a series of battery-free illuminated crosshair riflescopes. The Trijicon AccuPoint series utilizes an advanced combination fiber-optic and tritium self-luminous aiming-point illumination system that results in maximum success for the hunter as there is no need for dependency on failure-prone batteries.
At the center of the crosshairs is the self-luminous aiming point which automatically adjusts to changing light conditions. There is also a manual override to allow users to adjust the brightness to their personal preference in a given shooting situation.
The 137th NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits are now history but for those who were able to attend it was an enjoyable and memorable experience. Next year’s event will be held in Phoenix, Arizona. It will certainly be worth your while if you are able to attend.
Momentum Gaining for e-Form 4473
Pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act, ATF has been seeking public comment on the efficiency of its Firearms Transaction Record, ATF Form 4473.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) is among the organizations urging ATF to adopt an electronic Form 4473 that would be voluntary for both consumers and dealers. The e-Form 4473 would presumably be in a format that is not connected to a government database that could be used as a backdoor gun registration system.
NSSF said the benefits of the e-form 4473 would include:
- Enhancing the utility and clarity of the information to be collected.
- Minimize the burden of consumers and dealers in completing the form through the use of automated electronic and technological collection techniques, e.g. permitting electronic submission of responses to the questions asked.
- A reduction in mistakes in filling out the form, e.g. dealers could not be found in violation when a consumer enters “Y” to a questions instead of “yes”.
- A reduction in ATF inspection time at licensees premises in reviewing 4473 forms.
The author publishes two of the small arms industry’s most widely read trade newsletters. The International Firearms Trade covers the world firearms scene, and The New Firearms Business covers the domestic market. Visit www.FirearmsGroup.com. He may be reached at: FirearmsB@aol.com.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V11N12 (September 2008)|