As part of the National Rifle Association Annual Meeting (NRAAM) held in Atlanta from last Thursday through Sunday (today), the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) held its Leadership Forum on Friday afternoon.
The highlight of the event was President Donald Trump, who was the first sitting president since Reagan in 1983 to speak at the event. Although many of the press and some attendees left the event after Trump finished speaking, there were others who spoke after him.
A previous article here at The Resurgent covered Trump’s speech as well as the period leading up to it. The following is the list of speakers who came after Trump, along with some comments concerning their speeches. The general theme of all their speeches was support for the Second Amendment (and national concealed carry reciprocity), praise for Neil Gorsuch, disdain for the liberal media, and some mention of Michael Bloomberg and his anti-gun agenda.
Florida Governor Rick Scott: He spoke about the Second Amendment, but had the misfortune of speaking directly after Trump. Most of the larger press outlets packed up their gear and left as soon as Trump finished, as did some attendees in the crowd. Thus, Scott was trying to speak as people were packing equipment and leaving the room.
Senator Ted Cruz: The crowd loved Cruz and greeted him warmly. He stood away from the podium (and the teleprompter) and moved around onstage as he spoke. Cruz is a polished speaker and makes extensive use of gestures to help get his point across. As he was speaking I wondered if he would one day be Trump’s next nominee for the Supreme Court, or if he would run for President again in eight years. He has quite the following due to his strong defense of the Second Amendment and individual freedom.
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke: He came on stage with his wife; both seemed like genuinely warm and humble people. Zinke talked about the mistrust of the Interior Department out West and said he wants to help change the perception that the Interior just wants to grab more land for the Federal government. He said, “We want to be the happy department.” His meaning was that he wants the department to protect land for public use by sportsmen and others who enjoy the outdoors, encouraging people to make use of these resources.
Former baseball player Adam Laroche: He brought his son on stage and related the reasons why he left baseball. One was to spend more time with his son and family. The other was so that he could put time into helping to combat sex trafficking. He said that this fight is his passion and has gone on trips and helped fund efforts to fight the trafficking trade. His speech was inspiring. He said he’s often asked how he could leave the money of baseball and remarked that no matter how much money you have, “it’s never enough,” and that it can’t buy you happiness. He commented on the role of fathers to raise their sons the right way (noting that there are too many fatherless homes) and mentioned the need to spread the Gospel. Laroche had a funny opening line. He said, “I can tell my kids and my friends that President Trump opened for me.”
Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt: He talked about the need to defend the Second Amendment and about the changes in Nevada as it has shifted from being solidly pro-2nd Amendment to being softer on it.
Senator David Purdue: He mentioned the Second Amendment, the national debt crisis, and the “Constitutional crisis” due to Obama’s executive orders. He also promoted national concealed carry reciprocity laws and term limits for Congress.
Campus carry advocate Antonia Okafor: She advocates for campus carry and female gun ownership. She talked about her mission in this regard as well as the negativity she has received from those opposed to her. She said that the NRA is “one of the greatest civil rights organizations in the history of the world.”
LTC (ret) Allen West: He was a rousing, animated speaker who got the audience cheering at many points. Like Okafor, West referred to the NRA as ” the oldest civil rights organization that this country has ever known.” Like Trump, he referenced the 1775 Battles of Lexington and Concord as the British attempted to seize the colonists’ weapons in an effort to subjugate them. He said that all other rights therefore hinge on the Second Amendment. West supports national concealed carry reciprocity and connected it with the 14th Amendment, telling Georgia Governor Deal to sign the campus carry bill which is on his desk. He said that the Democrats have always been against the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments and formed the KKK after the Civil War to deprive black people of their self-defense rights.
Senator Luther Strange: He spoke about the importance of the Second Amendment in guarding against government tyranny. Like others before him, he also promoted national concealed carry reciprocity.
Larry Potterfield (from MidwayUSA): He is the founder and CEO of MidwayUSA who for over two decades has offered a “round-up” program where people purchasing shooting supplies from his company can round-up their total, with the difference being donated to the NRA-ILA. He and his wife presented a ceremonial check for $14 million to Chris Cox on stage.
Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr.: The Milwaukee sheriff closed out the list of speakers, referring to the NRA as those who love freedom, liberty, and God. He was much more strident than many of the previous speakers, referring to the “rat bastards on the left” who assault the Constitution, liberty, rule of law, and American exceptionalism. He also advocated national concealed carry reciprocity, saying “We have waited long enough.” Perhaps the most fitting quote of his which summarizes the mission of the NRA is “There will be no finish in the fight for freedom;” i.e. each generation needs to continue to fight (a sentiment expressed by President Reagan in 1983 when he spoke at the same event).