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President's Column

By Ronald L. Schmeits, President

I’m Honored To Have Served You

By the time you read this column, my two-year run as president of the National Rifle Association will have come to an end. It’s been one of my life’s highest honors and a truly humbling experience. Fifty-nine people served in this position before me, each one raising future expectations with their success. I pray I’ve lived up to those expectations.

We’re the world’s largest and oldest civil rights organization for a reason. As NRA president, I have gained a new understanding of your deep passion and conviction for the Second Amendment and all of our other freedoms. It’s that conviction that makes us, as far as I’m concerned, the world’s most successful civil rights organization, too.

When I became president in 2009, I wasn’t planning on making any major changes—we had a dedicated leadership team that was committed to and capable of protecting and expanding our freedoms. Their efforts were extremely effective prior to my term, and I have no doubt they’ll continue to be effective. I would particularly like to thank my friends David Keene and Jim Porter, whose support and hard work have been invaluable to me. We’re stronger now than ever.

While I’m proud of our experienced and accomplished leadership, it’s clear to me where the unique strength of our organization lies: in our millions of selfless, united members from coast to coast. Over the past two years, I’ve watched your energy win victory after victory.

McDonald v. Chicago made clear to our opponents what we already knew: that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual, nationwide Right to Keep and Bear Arms. And last November, we sent a message that reverberated throughout the halls in Washington. Thanks to our unparalleled grassroots network, NRA-supported candidates enjoyed tremendous success while enemies of freedom were swiftly removed from public office.

It’s my sincere hope that the momentum we’ve spent years building will continue to grow in the face of new challenges.

When power-hungry politicians try to blame our freedoms for crime, we must aggressively push for strict enforcement of existing laws and prosecution of those who violate them. Should they try to pick and choose the laws they want to follow, it’s our duty to swiftly replace them with people who respect all of our freedoms. And we must always ensure that our leaders adhere to the Constitution and the will of the American people—not the whims of foreign governments and gun-ban extremists.

A strong NRA is a good thing for American gun owners and non-gun owners alike. We must continue to expand our reach. There are too many people who still don’t understand how critical we are to the continuation of freedoms they may take for granted. We’ve accomplished an incredible amount—be proud of it! NRA membership is an investment in freedom.

Finally, I’ve often used this space to urge you to participate in our organization’s numerous programs, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t do that one last time. We’re the most powerful force in Washington because votes are America’s greatest currency. An NRA member is a guaranteed vote for freedom, and an active, visible NRA will attract more members. Grassroots participation is the lifeblood of our association, and our cause is too important to sit on the sidelines.

These past two years, I’ve met members from all corners of the country and all walks of life, and yet I’m struck by the singular vision we all share. Freedom is our most cherished possession, and we will not allow it to be taken from us—or any future generation.

Were it not for members like you, our Second Amendment, taken for granted by millions of Americans, would have been gutted or erased long ago. Thank you.

I grew up out in the country, and I’ve spent countless hours hunting and enjoying the outdoors. I’ve spent many more sitting in offices and conference rooms dreaming about doing so. I suppose I’ll have a little more time now to do what I love—but it’s thanks to your endless dedication that I’m comfortable knowing my right to do so is in good hands.

It’s been an honor serving as your president.