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President's Column

By David A. Keene, President

I Will Continue The Fight To Preserve Our Freedoms

More than 71,000 NRA members and supporters traveled to Pittsburgh for the 140th Annual Meetings in April. In a show of strength that should give heart to Second Amendment supporters and remind those who would deny us the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, their presence proved that NRA remains strong and ready to do whatever is needed to protect America’s freedoms.

Those of us who have been entrusted by our members with positions of leadership met with, talked to and—more importantly—had a chance to listen to members we encountered in the halls of the hotel and convention center or while we surveyed the more than four acres of exhibits. The message we received was clear: We know our opponents aren’t about to give up, and we’re ready to meet whatever challenges come our way.

And there will be real challenges ahead. We’ve won some remarkable legislative and regulatory battles over the course of the last few years against incredible odds. We’ve beaten back our opponents at the ballot box and in the courts when they have confronted us directly, but they are regrouping to continue their decades-long assault on American freedoms and our Constitution.

These opponents know that they can’t take us head-on in a fair fight because they’ve tried that and lost too many times. That strategy has cost them dozens of Senate and House seats over the years and, as former President Bill Clinton has admitted, led to the defeat of their presidential candidate in 2000. Since then they have tried to “take guns off the table” at campaign time while scheming to restrict gun ownership in every possible way between campaigns.

In spite of our past victories, we are facing some of the most dangerous challenges ever. President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder are without a doubt more hostile to the Second Amendment than any two men who have ever occupied the offices they now hold. They’ve tried to use tragedies and crises like the Mexican drug wars to whip up sentiment against gun owners and sportsmen and, having failed, are doing all they can to harass gun owners and deny hunters and sportsmen access to public lands. They’re doing it by regulation and through executive orders that they hope to sneak through without much public scrutiny and without having to force their allies in Congress to openly vote against the Second Amendment.

We aren’t about to let gun-haters get away with this, but imagine what will happen if they muddy the political waters sufficiently between now and November 2012 to lull gun owners to sleep and win the votes they’ll need to continue to control the White House and Senate. If that happens and a vacancy opens up on the Supreme Court, you can bet President Obama will appoint the one additional anti-gun justice he’ll need to overturn Heller and McDonald to gut the Second Amendment.

And he’ll work with international anti-gun forces in the United Nations to win approval of a treaty that could virtually outlaw the private ownership of firearms in this country. If that happens, our opponents will have achieved their lifelong dream and the America we inherited will be forever lost.

We can defeat them in spite of the billions of dollars they have at their disposal and in spite of the adoring treatment they get from an anti-gun media—if we do what we have done when our rights have been threatened in the past—stand together and be prepared to step up to the plate to support our friends. Then together we will let our opponents know that we will extract a heavy political price from those who ignore the Constitution and the wishes of their constituents. If this feels like a never-ending battle, it is because the threats are constant.

Before we left Pittsburgh, the NRA Board honored me by allowing me to serve as your president during these dangerous times. Before accepting, I looked back at how we’ve succeeded in the past and how NRA has come to be the single largest and most effective advocacy organization in this nation’s history. Our most effective leaders—from Harlon Carter to Marion Hammer to Charlton Heston and many others—have realized, as Wayne LaPierre so often reminds us, that it is the energy, dedication and willingness to do whatever might prove necessary to defend America’s freedom that have allowed us to win battle after battle against enormous odds.

Those of us who have the honor and responsibility to provide leadership in this continuous struggle must never forget how dearly freedom has cost so many American families. As your president, I pledge to continue to earn your trust and the faith of those who march with us in these battles of a free people to remain free. It’s my goal; it is your desire; it is freedom’s price. It’s an awesome responsibility to be your president during these times, and I pledge to continue to listen and walk beside you for freedom every step!