Tens of thousands of gun owners and Second Amendment activists were sent a message by Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) on Saturday that was eerily reminiscent of what other civil rights advocates were told when they visited the South two generations ago: “You are not welcome here.”
If the late Charlton Heston, past five-term National Rifle Association president were still alive and present, as he was in 1999 in Denver following the Columbine tragedy, he might have told Lewis, “We’re already here.”
Lewis, the veteran congressman who was and remains a civil rights icon, was talking to a relatively small crowd of gun prohibitionists, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. That’s when he reportedly said this:
“I must say to the NRA that you are not welcome here in the 5th district, you are not welcome here in Atlanta. We need to make our cities, our states, our neighborhoods free of gun violence.”
It evidently doesn’t matter that NRA members may have just added several million dollars to the local economy, or that for this weekend the area around the convention center was filled with legal, law-abiding gun owners who didn’t harm a soul.
The final attendance figure will not be available until Monday morning’s meeting of the NRA Board of Directors. The pre-convention estimates ranged between 70,000 and 80,000, which seems fairly typical for an NRA annual members’ meeting and exhibition in recent years.
Lewis’ political party — Democrats — has made it tough on gun owners for the past couple of decades. It is not that all Democrats are anti-gun — they’re not — but the party’s elitist leadership has made it pretty clear they have an animosity toward the right to keep and bear arms. The 2008 Heller ruling and 2010 McDonald decision that affirmed the Second Amendment delineates an individual civil right and then incorporated that right to the states via the 14th Amendment seems to stick in the party’s craw.
At Saturday’s members’ meeting, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and chief lobbyist Chris Cox repeated their remarks from the previous day’s leadership conference. In their opinion, now is the time for gun owners to take the offensive and work toward rolling back the restrictions on gun ownership that have been legislated over the past several years.
This is definitely not the time to “roll up your tent and go home” was the message.
President Donald Trump’s appearance Friday to a much larger crowd than those who attended the Saturday meeting clearly energized gun owners.
They have seen some advances, some ground regained, but they want more of their rights returned and they want it to happen sooner than later.
High on the list: National concealed carry reciprocity and passage of the Hearing Protection Act, which would make suppressors (“silencers”) more accessible to the general public.
These are two issues that Democrats have vowed to fight vigorously, and that have the gun prohibition lobby getting hysterical in their fund-raising messaging.
The NRA convention wraps up today and those activists will be returning home to keep the activist torches burning. They have ground to regain in their effort to, as Alan Gottlieb with the Second Amendment has been repeating, to “make the Second Amendment great again.”