Last Saturday, during a yard sale stop, I got a taste of how the debate over federal gun control laws is affecting grass roots Americans.
The elderly man who had the sale had been a hunter all his life, evidenced by the impressive trophy mounts decorating the walls of his home. While showing me his rifles, he said he was surprised when a woman who had been there just before me bought all three of his handguns with no hesitation.
Since Barack Obama has controlled the White House, stories like this are not unusual. About a month earlier I went to a gun show and before the doors opened, long lines stretched far into the parking lot.
Inside, some dealers had the famous poster of Obama, with the message "Salesman of the Year." It's true that Obama has inspired more gun sales than anyone. I saw persons leaving the show with new firearm purchases as well as boxes of ammunition, some requiring a hand truck.
Another sampling of the mood of Americans concerned about their Second Amendment rights was evident at last Saturday's NRA convention in Houston, Texas.
In an emotional speech, television and radio talk show host Glen Beck, who sold out his show at Penns Peak in 2009, got the crowd going when he recalled how this president vowed to "fundamentally transform our country" immediately after taking office. Beck spoke about the importance of keeping the Second Amendment free from any federal gun control laws.
"They feel they must regulate us until we comply," he warned.
In stressing personal responsibility of gun owners, Beck said that a gun is only a reflection of the people who use it" and that "weapons will always find their way into the hands of bad people.
"We must declare that guns remain in the hands of good people," he stated.
Other speakers at the convention warned that even though the president's recent gun control measure failed to muster enough votes in the Senate, the Second Amendment fight is far from over. Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA, called the vote only "one skirmish in what can only be defined as a long war against our constitutional rights." He promised that whether "it's round 1 or 2 or 15, this NRA will go the distance" and "will never give up or compromise our constitutional freedom, not one single inch,"
David Keene, NRA president, agreed, stating that gun rights advocates must never confuse winning a battle with winning a war. He said NRA opponents are as focused as ever to consign all those who believe in the freedoms guaranteed by the this nation's founders "to the outer darkness."
LaPierre brought the crowd to its feet by stating that the anti-gun proponents "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. And we will never surrender our guns never."
He also told the crowd that the NRA is stronger and larger than ever before and that its "commitment to freedom is unwavering, our growth unprecedented."
James W. Porter II, who is expected to be named president by the NRA board of directors this week, set the tone by rallying the crowd for the 2014 midterm elections and the 2016 presidential race. He said that with the Senate and House seats up for grabs, NRA members should direct their energy and gain the political high ground.
"We do that and Obama can be stopped," he said.
There's no denying that the NRA presents a formidable force to candidates who support anti-gun legislation and no one knows that better than this president.
By Jim Zbick