In full disclosure, I am a sitting Board Member of the National Rifle Association, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization. I want to share insights with you from this past week’s National Rifle Association Annual Meeting (“NRAAM”) and Convention held in Dallas, Texas.
For starters, you probably didn’t hear much about the NRAAM from the liberal, progressive media because there was just not much to report. One thing notable is that this year's NRAAM broke the attendance record previously held by Houston, Texas. Now, how could that be? I mean, after all, the NRA is supposed to be on the run after the Parkland, Florida, Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Yet, the month after that shooting, the NRA broke a 15-year fundraising record, and the membership numbers have only been increasing.
I do not suppose you are hearing much about this from the liberal, progressive media. The progressive, socialist left truly believed that they had delivered a death blow to the NRA post the February 14th shooting, au contraire. What has hurt the left, in combination with the “March for our Lives” rally, is that the leftist anti-gun movement, and their complicit media allies, cannot hide the truth.
Previously, I wrote a piece addressing the emotional abuse of the left in using these traumatized Stoneman Douglas High School students for advancing their ideological agenda. It did appear they were being successful, especially with the certain private sector companies who were cutting ties with the NRA. But something happened that truly turned the tide: young David Hogg and his “March for Our Lives” followers suggested that the NRA had blood on its hands. From that moment on, the anti-gun left began to lose the momentum, and certainly the issue. Anyone with a semblance of intelligence knows that the NRA had nothing to do with the Parkland shooting. And for there to be such an absurd assertion, opinionated, not grounded in truth, reversed the course for young Hogg and his compatriots, as well as their elitist anti-gun sponsors.
It is as if the left in America, along with the liberal, progressive media, thinks us fools, and that no one can reason, assess, and analyze on their own. The shooting in Parkland, Florida was the result of a cacophony of failures unimaginable, unconscionable, from federal and local law enforcement to the school district. For anyone to completely disavow – no, dismiss – all the present evidence, well, that is intellectually dishonest. Indeed, it was intellectually corrupt, since it was purposeful and intended. Rahm Emanuel’s mantra of “never let a good crisis go to waste” was prevalent in the aftermath of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, but we all know a better maxim: “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
The fact that the Parkland protest movement, to this date, has never focused on the FBI or the Broward Sheriff Scott Israel is telling. Why did the warnings go unheeded? Why after (45) domestic disturbance calls related to Cruz or his brother was there no official police report? Why was there only one School Resource Officer for over 3,000 students at Stoneman Douglas High School? And why were we not told immediately that there was no response from Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson … just a slight oversight by Sheriff Israel who was “hogging” up the TV? There has been no questioning, no rallies against, or town hall meetings by CNN putting Broward School’s Superintendent Robert Runcie to the test over the Obama-era “Promise” program, which allows violent, criminal behavior to go unreported on school campuses.
These are the very evident truths which the anti-gun left and the liberal, progressive media decided to dismiss. These are the facts that certain private sector companies have decided to ignore and cave to pressure. However, the rest of America has not – namely the nearly six million members of the NRA, and all other law-abiding, legal gun owners – dismissed these facts.
NRA members know that it was one of their own, Stephen Willeford, a resident of Sutherland Springs, Texas, an NRA trained firearms instructor who did what Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson did not. Willeford was alerted to the gun shots emanating from the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs by his daughter. He did not wait until after calling 9-11. He did not hide behind a barrier or wall. He did not ponder. He grabbed his own AR-15 and delivered accurate, precise fire, while under fire, and neutralized the assailant, an assailant who the U.S. Air Force and federal law enforcement had apparently failed to report for his domestic abuse felony offense and bad conduct discharge.
Stephen Willeford was at the 147th NRAAM.
NRA members have come to know and love young Kyle Kashuv of Stoneman Douglas High School. A few weeks ago, Kyle did as any red blooded young American boy would. He went shooting with his Dad at a firearms range. Kyle fired an AR-15, and he posted the video, with commentary, on his Twitter page. Sadly, Kyle was reportedly called into the Stoneman Douglas High School principals office and in turn referred to the Broward School Resource Officer, who interrogated, along with two other officers, and berated him for going to the firearms range with his Dad. These are members of the same Broward Sheriff’s Office School Resource Officer division who failed to protect those students on February 14, 2018. How brave of them to verbally assail young Kyle for the “crime” of going to a gun range with his Dad to enjoy his Second Amendment right.
Kyle Kashuv was at the 147th NRAAM.
The NRA is alive and very well because the NRA stands and supports the fundamental constitutional right to keep and bear arms, a right that “shall not be infringed.”
Progressive socialist members of congress like California’s Representative Eric Swalwell wants to implement a “military-style semiautomatic assault weapons” ban that forces individuals to sell their weapons. He disingenuously calls it an “assault weapons” buyback program, not realizing that anything can be used by an individual to assault another. Rep. Swalwell believes that anyone who does not participate in his buyback program should then be criminally prosecuted for keeping their weapons.
Rep. Swalwell, nor David Hogg, were at the 147th NRAAM, but the insidious beliefs, statements, and actions they represent, those of the anti-gun leftists, are why there were close to 85,000 that were.
That is why President Donald Trump, and Vice President Mike Pence, were at the 147th NRAAM, and President Trump reminded everyone that the words of Spartan King Leonidas, “Molon Labe,” means “Come and Take It” in the State of Texas!
Allen West is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army. Mr. West is a Senior Fellow at the Media Research Center to support its mission to expose and neutralize liberal media bias.
Editor's Note: This piece has been updated since published. The original piece noted that "this year's NRAAM may break the attendance record previously held by Houston, Texas." According to LTC Allen West, this year's NRAAM hit an attendance record of 87,154.