Tags: NRA Convention

Mike Pence: ‘Our State Governments Are Not Territorial Outposts of the National Government.’


Indiana Gov. Mike Pence offered very state-focused address at the NRA Convention, touting his state to the audience assembled in Indianapolis’s Lucas Oil Stadium. He mentioned gun rights issues, but offered a broad review of the conservative policies he’s enacted so far, and why they’ve helped his state prosper.

He mentioned Indiana has the lowest taxes in the Midwest, with additional tax cuts scheduled to go into effect each year for every year until 2021.

A not so subtle jab at Common Core, Pence said, “In the Hoosier State, we believe education is a state and local issue, and we believe decisions about curriculum, lesson plans and other matters should be made in the communities by the parents and the teachers and those who are affected by themselves the most.”

“Some of you know I served 12 years in Congress. If I only had 12 years left to live, I’d want to spend them in Congress again… because those were the longest 12 years of my life.”

If, as some predict, Pence throws his hat into the 2016 presidential ring, we can expect him to emphasize federalist approach, a bit like Rick Perry’s theme in 2012.

“Washington is not only broke, it’s broken. The cure for what ails this country will come more from our state capitals than it ever will from our national capital. Despite what some may think in Washington, our state governments are not territorial outposts of the national government. The states are the wellspring of the American experiment. It will not be enough to cut federal spending; the next generation of leaders must permanently reduce the size and scope of the federal government by returning to the states the rights, resources, and responsibilities that are rightfully theirs!”

He closed, “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And that means freedom always wins.”

Tags: Mike Pence , NRA Convention , NRA Convention 2014

Sights You Just Don’t See Every Day.


Sights from the Exhibit Hall of the 2014 National Rifle Association Annual Meeting . . . 

Who knew the NRA had a wine club?

Annie Oakley’s pistol:

At last, a laser sight with a lower carbon emission.

In case you’re looking for something in the style of Jack Bauer’s gun (at least from the early seasons) . . . 

. . . or something a little heavier.

I wonder if it’s harder to sell ammunition with Soviet-style marketing since the Crimea invasion. That exhibitor featured a fur-hat-clad booth babe.

If you’re looking for a Browning Semi-Automatic 30 Caliber, Ohio Ordinance Works can help you out.

Or if you’re looking for a nice katana, ask this pirate.

Almost everybody’s enjoying themselves at the convention. Well, except for Porky:

Tags: NRA , NRA Convention , Something Lighter

Cox: Bloomberg’s Millions ‘Start-Up Capital to Take This Freedom Away’


Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action (the political and lobbying arm of the organization), kicked off the organization’s annual meeting by declaring that the efforts to push gun control laws at the national and state levels last year constituted “the biggest attack on freedom in 200 years.”

He also called attention to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has pledged to spend $50 million to promote gun control this cycle.

“$50 million is a little start-up capital to try to take this freedom away,” Cox said. “What Michael Bloomberg doesn’t understand is that this freedom isn’t for sale. You can’t buy the hearts and minds with a lot of advertising and press statements and egomaniacal statements like, ‘if there’s a God, I’m going straight into heaven.’”

He added, “The goal shouldn’t be to hand our firearms down to our children. The goal should be to hand this freedom down so that they will have the freedom to purchase whatever they want to purchase.”

Tags: Chris Cox , NRA , NRA Convention , Michael Bloomberg

Romney to NRA: ‘Consider the Courts.’


I’m not at the NRA convention this year, but Mitt Romney will be there. His campaign has released excerpts of his speech today:

[T]he principles of our Constitution are enduring and universal . . . they were not designed to bend to the will of presidents and justices who come and go. The belief that we are all created equal, that we are endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights — these are not relics from another time, they reflect truths that are valid in every era.

The framework of law created by the Declaration and the Constitution is the source of our greatness. It has generated unparalleled opportunity and prosperity. Our Founders understood this, which is why they created a system of government that is limited.

This President is moving us away from our Founders’ vision. Instead of limited government, he is leading us toward limited freedom and limited opportunity.

This November, we face a defining decision. I am offering a real choice and a new beginning. I am running for President because I have the experience and the vision to lead us in a different direction. We know what Barack Obama’s vision of America is — we’ve all lived it the last three years. Mine is very different.

My course restores and protects our freedoms. As President, the Constitution would be my guide, and the Declaration of Independence my compass.

Today, I want to talk about this administration’s assault on our freedoms — our economic freedom, our religious freedom, and our personal freedom. And I want to share my plans to return America to the first principles of our founding.


The President’s assault on economic freedom begins with his tax hikes. By their very nature, taxes reduce our freedom. Their only role in a free economy should be to fund services that are absolutely essential, such as national security, education, and the care of those who cannot care for themselves.

And, yet, President Obama has proposed raising the marginal tax rate from 35% to 40%. The Vice President has proposed a new global business tax. Medical device companies are soon to be subject to a new tax on revenues. And the President is now touring the country, touting a new tax on investment and the wealthy. Congress does not need more money to spend; Congress needs to learn to spend less!


This administration’s attack on freedom extends even to rights explicitly guaranteed by our Constitution. The right to bear arms is so plainly stated, so unambiguous, that liberals have a hard time challenging it directly. Instead, they’ve been employing every imaginable ploy to restrict it.

I applaud true conservationists like Rob Keck who work to preserve lands, herds and flocks for hunting. I applaud Ambassador Bolton for opposing international efforts to erode our rights. I applaud Congressman Issa and Senator Grassley for their work in exposing the “Fast and Furious” scandal. And I applaud NRA leadership for being among the first and most vocal in calling upon Attorney General Holder to resign.

We need a President who will enforce current laws, not create new ones that only serve to burden lawful gun owners. President Obama has not; I will.

We need a President who will stand up for the rights of hunters, sportsmen, and those seeking to protect their homes and their families. President Obama has not; I will.

And if we are going to safeguard our Second Amendment, it is time to elect a president who will defend the rights President Obama ignores or minimizes. I will.


In a second term, he would be unrestrained by the demands of reelection. As he told the Russian president last month when he thought no one else was listening, after his re-election he’ll have a lot more, quote, “flexibility” to do what he wants. I’m not exactly sure what he meant by that, but looking at his first three years, I have a very good idea.

Consider the courts. President Obama has an unusual view of the Supreme Court and its responsibilities, as he reminded us just the other day. He said, quote, “I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”

Of course, what President Obama calls “extraordinary” and “unprecedented,” the rest of us recognize as “judicial review.” That concept has been a centerpiece of our constitutional system since 1803.

Judicial review requires that the Supreme Court strike down any law that violates the Constitution — the founding document that is the bulwark of our freedoms. But President Obama seems to believe that Court decisions are only legitimate when they rule in his favor, and illegitimate if they don’t. He thinks our nation’s highest court is to be revered and respected — as long as it remains faithful to the original intent of Barack Obama.

That’s the problem with those who view the Constitution as living and evolving, not timeless and defining. They never explain just who will decide what the Constitution means and in which way it will “evolve.”

In his first term, we’ve seen the president try to browbeat the Supreme Court. In a second term, he would remake it. Our freedoms would be in the hands of an Obama Court, not just for four years, but for the next 40. That must not happen.

Tags: Mitt Romney , NRA , NRA Convention

Mike Huckabee, at the NRA Convention


Family commitments required me to return from the NRA convention on Saturday morning, before potential presidential contender Mike Huckabee gave the convention’s keynote address. With the characteristic humility and gentle tone I’ve come to expect, Huckabee fans are wondering where my coverage of his speech is.

Video of Huckabee’s speech can be found here; all of the speeches of all of the participants, including Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and John Bolton, can be found here.

Tags: Mike Huckabee , NRA Convention

NRA Says Eric Holder Must Go; Will Congress Concur?


Obviously, almost all other political news pales in comparison to the huge news announced last night. But a quick closing note on the NRA Convention…

None of the speeches were surprising to those familiar with the speakers; Newt Gingrich’s was long, interesting, and laden with history; Rick Santorum was passionate and surprisingly religious considering the venue; John Bolton was wonky and well-reasoned; and Herman Cain left the crowd most fired up. Politico said Mitt Romney’s video message fell flat; I would note that none of the video messages generated any notably enthusiastic response other than Michele Bachmann. Considering that the appearance of Bachmann’s face was what triggered the applause, I suspect that reflects that the crowd likes Bachmann herself and what she does more than anything in particular that she said.

The NRA called for Eric Holder’s resignation over the gun-walking scandal, in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed guns to be purchased by suspected Mexican drug cartel associates and taken over the border. Thousands of guns were purchased and used in violent acts in Mexico, and one firearm was used to murder a U.S. Border Patrol official. Attorney General Eric Holder said he was unaware of the operation and the Department of Justice had initially denied that it had ever permitted guns to cross the border in this manner.

NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre scoffed, “He’s the highest law enforcement officer in our land. He’s in charge, and he didn’t know? Then who’s minding the store over at the Justice Department? If Holder didn’t know, then Holder’s gotta go.” It’s a great line, but we know Obama will ignore it.

The bigger question will be whether we start seeing members of Congress echoing this demand. The line from ATF and the DOJ for the moment is that their ongoing internal investigation precludes them from cooperating with Congressional investigations, an excuse that is outraging GOP lawmakers.

Tags: Eric Holder , NRA Convention

NRA Convention Part One: Cox, LaPierre, Perry


Call it the Sarah Palin effect: Last year, the National Rifle Association’s annual convention held its main series of speakers — the Celebration of American Values — at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, home of the NBA Bobcats and site of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, with a capacity of 19,000.

This year, with a selection of lower-profile speakers — Newt Gingrich,  Rick Santorum, John Bolton, and Herman Cain among them — the Celebration of American Values was held in the Pittsburgh Convention Center’s ballroom — a large room, no doubt, but a significantly smaller venue. And even then, the room was half-full when the speakers began.

The politics started early; Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, began by saying he wanted to make sure the assembled crowd was “in the right place.” Showcasing the National Journal cover of Obama  with the label “Hopefulness,” he said, “If you want five and half more years of this, you may want to leave.” Showing  a picture of Attorney General Eric Holder, he said, “If this is your idea of law and order, you may want to head to the doors.” Then showing an unflattering photo of Bill and Hillary Clinton, he said, “If this is your definition of bliss . . . then I don’t know what to tell you.” He concluded with a photo of the United Nations flag, declaring, “If this is the flag that holds your loyalty, you’re not even in the right country.”

Larry Potterfield, CEO of Midway firearms manufacturer & NRA donor: “The election isn’t until next year, but I can’t wait.”

NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, usually among the conference’s most strident speakers, actually avoided any mention of the 2012 elections. Instead, he obliquely addressed the widespread tsk-tsking about “extreme” and “inflammatory” rhetoric after the Tucson shooting.

“We know how to play their game. President Obama or Michael Bloomberg or some other official trots out on television to scold people to watch their words, that they might pose some threat of violence. And Chris Matthews, Lawrence O’Donnell, and Diane Sawyer, they drive home the story on the networks. We know every word spoken today and throughout the weekend is going to be scrutinized by our opponents. We will choose our words carefully and appropriately,” he declared (with perhaps a wee bit too much confidence that Uncle Ted won’t go off message). “Let me make this perfectly clear: We will never back away from our resolve to defend the rights of all law-abiding gun owners in this country!”

So far three governors have issued video greetings to the convention, Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett, Texas governor Rick Perry, and Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, who addressed this conference in person last year. By far the most eye-catching came from Perry, who began and closed his remarks by firing a rifle at the LaRue Tactical gun range.

Tags: NRA Convention , Rick Perry , Sarah Palin

Eleven Booths You Might Not Have Expected to See at the NRA Convention


Obviously, the NRA convention is more than guns; the gathering in one place of 70,000 to 80,000 firearms owners, who are generally more politically active than the average citizen and tend to lean to the right, attracts numerous lawmakers and aspiring presidential candidates. But it also attracts some companies you might not expect:

  1. Better Garden Tools, Booth 3815.
  2. First National Bank of Omaha, Booth 3920.
  3. Hillsdale College, Lobby.
  4. LifeLock, Booth 3922 (identity theft protection).
  5. Marathon Seat Covers, Booth 2427.
  6. Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism, Booth 113.
  7. NRA Wine Club, Booth 3924.
  8. Original S.W.A.T. Footwear, Booth 2008.
  9. Ram Trucks, Booth 3531.
  10. Ruffled Grouse Society, Booth 3626 (dedicated to preserving wildlife habitats).
  11. Yamaha Motor Corp., Booth 117 (featuring ATVs).

Tags: NRA Convention

The Steel City? Also the Stain City, I Find


Over on the home page, my curtain-raising piece on this year’s NRA convention.

Separately, a quick observation on this fine city of Pittsburgh: Clearly, this is a city with no time for side dishes. “French fries? Cole slaw? Don’t put that on the side of the plate! Put them IN THE SANDWICH, I tell you! I want as much debris flying in as wide a dispersal range as possible when I bite into this! Sandwiches were just too unlikely to spill and stain in their previous form!”

Tags: NRA Convention

Charlotte Observer to NRA Members: Please Spend Money, You Extreme Right Wingers


The editors of the Charlotte Observer welcome the NRA convention to town:

Because of its robust lobbying and politicking, the NRA has become synonymous, in many eyes, with extreme right-wing Republicans.

The conference schedule does not belie that impression: Speakers include Sarah Palin, Fox entertainer Glenn Beck and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

I wonder what they think of Rep. Heath Shuler, the Democrat who represents the not-terribly-far-away 11th district of North Carolina.

And while I think the likes of John Thune, Richard Burr, Haley Barbour, and Mike Pence are clearly conservative, I would dispute the label “extreme right wing.”

UPDATE: Another “extreme right wing Republican” appearing at the convention today, North Carolina governor Bev Perdue, Democrat.

Tags: NRA Convention

What Will Mike Pence Say About Elena Kagan?


Later today at the NRA convention, Rep. Mike Pence will address the attendees, and he is expected to talk about Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. At first glance, it might seem surprising that a House member is talking about a potential justice, instead of one of the senators in attendance (Thune, Burr). But the senators probably need to appear open-minded on Kagan, while Pence can articulate all of the concern about her meager, and not promising, comments on the Second Amendment.

The NRA scored the vote to confirm Sonia Sotomayor, meaning that it counted towards the organization’s annual “grades” of candidates and potential endorsements. Pence has already compared Kagan to Harriet Miers (and he didn’t mean it as a compliment), and if he really hits Kagan hard today before an audience of tens of thousands of NRA members, he may make it difficult for the NRA to not score the Kagan vote.

One other wrinkle? As I noted earlier this week, the Florida Senate race represents a unique headache for the NRA, since their longtime ally Charlie Crist has alienated many conservatives and Republicans but been solid on the gun issue. Meanwhile, while many conservatives enthusiasically back Marco Rubio, the NRA was underwhelmed with Rubio’s effort on a bill that gave employees the right to keep guns in their cars when they park in workplace lots. The NRA is “evaluating the race”, and on paper, they appeared set to be Charlie Crist’s last ally . . . except that the Florida governor just declared about Kagan, “I think she’d do a great job.”

Tags: Charlie Crist , Marco Rubio , Mike Pence , NRA Convention

Gunning It


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In past years, some cities have faced a bit of controversy about hosting the National Rifle Association’s annual convention. Of course, those who hesitate cut off their noses to spite their wallets: “Organizers say they expect at least 70,000 visitors. Hotels are booked, restaurants will be packed, and the entire event is expected to pump $20 million into the local economy.” So far, from the crowds I’ve seen in the neighborhood around the convention center, it’s younger than you might picture — a lot of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, I suspect — and more women than you might expect. I’m told some folks make this their family vacations.

Cam had told me it was a big event, but the scope of it is really expansive; more than 500 booths with every possible product, service, and business relating to firearms, hunting, and personal protection. If you’re not a diehard gun guy, the sheer volume and variety of firearms and related equipment at the NRA convention is jaw-dropping. For example, there are booths for African Elephant Hair Bracelets, “The Concealment Shop,” Hillsdale College, and the “North South Skirmish Association,” booths dedicated entirely to “custom-fit hearing protection,” booths devoted entirely to binoculars, safaris to every corner of the world imaginable, and of course, an NRA Wine Club. (Perhaps you’re looking for a vintage of a higher caliber.)

While I’m not a diehard gun guy, I am a diehard 24 guy, and tomorrow in Booth 701 I can check out the model that is Jack Bauer’s gun, the Sig Sauer P229. I suspect each time you fire it, a voice shouts, “Who do you work for?” and the round tortures answers out of your target.

Sarah Palin is the headline speaker tomorrow; and no, she’s not taking a fee for this address. The other current and former GOP officials who are speaking — and whose appearance gives off a whiff of 2012 ambitions — include Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, and former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who appears Sunday. As far as I can tell, Rep. Heath Shuler, North Carolina Democrat, is the lone representative of his party speaking. Sean Hannity was also scheduled to speak this weekend but had to cancel at the last minute; fellow Fox News host Glenn Beck will appear in his place.

By the way, for those mainstream-media folks looking for a quick and easy way to demonize all conventiongoers and NRA members as dangerous insurrectionists, an ad in the program for the new Benelli Vinci 12-gauge shotgun shows a masked man in camouflage holding the product beneath the slogan “LET THE REVOLUTION BEGIN.” Of course, they pretty obviously mean a revolution in their product, and the ad print says “the new Benelli Vinci places the shotgun revolution in your hands.” But the facts have never meant much to those determined to paint gun owners as dangerous extremists, so I wanted to give you a heads-up on the next smear coming down the pike. The guy’s eyes look like they could belong to Texas governor Rick Perry, anyway.

Ironically, Charlotte is going to use its performance hosting this convention to help bolster its bid to host another big convention, a perhaps ironic subsequent event: the Democratic National Convention in 2012. Maybe Wayne LaPierre will leave a note at the convention center podium for President Obama.

Tags: Haley Barbour , John Thune , Mike Pence , Newt Gingrich , NRA Convention , Sarah Palin

Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review