|Beck at NRA Rally: 'Freedom' Is at Stake|
|By SHUSHANNAH WALSHE (@shushwalshe) and MATTHEW LAROTONDA (@mattlarotonda)||May 5, 2013, 8:12 AM|
Television and radio host Glenn Beck warned NRA members that the "freedom of all mankind is at stake" and the "right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
"They want to fundamentally transform our country and they've just about finished the project," Beck told an audience of thousands Saturday evening at the NRA convention's Stand and Fight Rally in Houston, Texas. "They feel they must regulate us until we comply, but I will not comply."
Beck grew teary at times and used historically significant guns to talk about the importance of keeping second amendment rights free from any sort of federal gun control laws, stressing "a gun is only a reflection of the people who use it" and warning the audience "we cannot falter, we cannot fail."
"We have to admit two things," Beck added. "That weapons will always find their way into the hands of bad people, always…but we must declare this: that guns must remain in the hands of good people."
Beck's speech ended the second day of the NRA's annual convention where speaker after speaker warned the crowd of thousands of members that their second amendment rights were being attacked by the president specifically and Washington in general.
The leadership told the crowd they may have been victorious when the Manchin-Toomey amendment failed, but the fight is not over.
"Let's not fool ourselves it doesn't mean the war is over," NRA president David Keene told the crowd. "We must never confuse winning a battle with winning a war. We all know that as we meet here our opponents are regrouping and we know that they'll be back. They are as dedicated today as they've ever been to consigning you and me and all those who believe in the freedoms guaranteed us by these nation's founders to the outer darkness."
Wayne LaPierre, the group's executive vice president and face of the organization, focused the fight on President Obama saying "there is nothing the president will not do to get something, anything, through Congress to advance his agenda to destroy the Second Amendment. Nothing."
"So far, thanks to you and millions of Americans like you, that's exactly what President Obama has gotten — absolutely nothing," LaPierre said.
LaPierre said the failed background checks vote was "significant," but warned it was only "one skirmish in what can only be defined as a long war against our constitutional rights."
"We are in the midst of a once-in-a-generation fight for everything that we care about," LaPierre said. "We have a chance to secure our freedom for a generation, or to lose it forever. We must remain vigilant, we must remain ever resolute, and steadfastly growing and preparing for the even the more critical battles that loom before us. I am proud to report as I stand in front of you this morning that the state of our NRA is stronger and larger than it has ever been...Our commitment to freedom is unwavering, our growth unprecedented."
LaPierre continued saying "without that freedom, we aren't really free at all."
"They can try to blame and shame us with all their might, but when it comes to defending the Second Amendment, we will never sacrifice our freedom upon the altar of elitist acceptance," LaPierre said to applause. "And we will never surrender our guns — never."
LaPierre promised whether "it's round 1 or 2 or 15, this NRA will go the distance."
"And no matter what it takes, we will never give up or compromise our constitutional freedom, not one single inch," LaPierre bellowed.
LaPierre, as well as Keene, launched a rallying cry for the 2014 midterm elections as well as the 2016 presidential election.
James W. Porter II, who is expected to be named president by the NRA board of directors next week succeeding Keene as the group's next president said, "I hear some Americans say with the last election, the country is lost. No, no. An election was lost."
"There's another election more important for the second amendment right around the corner," Porter said to cheers. "With the U.S. Senate and the House up for grabs, we as individual NRA members can direct the massive energy of spontaneous combustion to gain the political high ground. We do that and Obama can be stopped."
It wasn't just the leadership and Beck that pushed the message of standing up to threats they foresee to gun rights during the second day of the convention. John Fafoutakis from Sheridan, Wyo. took to the stage with a message for "all those gun grabbers in Washington.
"And to the gun grabbers of the United Nations who want to disarm all law-abiding Americans, I have these kind words for you 'Fill your hand, you son of a bitch," Fafoutakis said -- reprising a famous John Wayne line from the movie "True Grit."
Victims of Gun Violence Talk to NRA Members
Outside of the convention hall victims of gun violence including family members of those killed in the Sandy Hook School shooting in Newtown, Conn. and the 2011 Tucson shooting were part of a group that held signs protesting the convention, some read "Protect Our Children."
Several tried to engage NRA members in conversation, mostly resulting in civil conversations with differing opinions.
Erica Lafferty, whose mother Dawn Hochsprung was the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary, joined Neil Heslin who lost his 6-year-old son Jesse.
They spoke to NRA member Jay Reid from McKinney, Texas and he expressed his deep sorrow at the tragedy noting he himself is a high school teacher and his own sadness when his daughter merely broke her leg, saying he could not imagine the grief they were going through.
"In the past ten years there's actually been two million gun sales that have been stopped because of background checks," Lafferty told Reid, but he disagreed politely saying a universal background check could infringe on his second amendment rights.
"I have a right to my Second Amendment. It's my property. I should be able to sell to whomever I choose," Reid said. "If kids want cigarettes, they're going to find them. If criminals want a gun, they're going to find them."
Patricia Maisch, who helped wrestle a fresh magazine of bullets away from Jared Loughner as he tried to reload at the Tucson, Ariz., shooting in January 2011 that killed six and seriously injured others, including former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was also outside the convention.
She spoke to Scott Madden from Orlando, Fla. about background checks and although he disagreed with a federal law he said he would support them if that was the will of the people and if there are background checks it's important that they are "reasonable."
"I would tell the senators to listen to their voters because they work for us," Madden told Maisch. "Listen to the people who elect them."
Other protesters, just across the street from the convention, read the names of those killed by gun violence.