The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The head of the NRA defines his new enemies: The ‘violent left’ and judges who ‘do violence’ to the Constitution

Wayne LaPierre is executive vice president and chief executive of the National Rifle Association. (Adrees Latif/Reuters)

Few organizations did better under the Obama administration than the National Rifle Association. Leveraging the constant fear that the government would come confiscate Americans’ firearms, the organization and its chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, managed to bolster membership rolls and help power a massive surge in gun-buying. There was never any real risk to the country’s firearms, of course: President Barack Obama’s executive actions were tepid and legislative responses to mass shootings were non-starters on Capitol Hill — despite being fairly weak themselves.

For those wondering how the organization would respond to this new era in which there was no tangible political opposition to push off of, LaPierre answered the question in his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday. The new enemy? A nebulous and vastly overstated violent left, working in partnership with the “left-wing media” and a judiciary that does “violence to the Constitution’s separation of powers” by opposing President Trump’s executive orders.

That argument was previewed with a video the organization released Thursday.

A video says the National Rifle Association's executive vice president will lead the fight to support President Trump. (Video: NRA)

At the end of his speech, transcribed and annotated below, LaPierre made clear the two sides in his newly redefined conflict.

“If you are a member of the leftist media or a soldier for the violent left, a violent criminal, a drug cartel gang member or a would-be terrorist,” he said, “hear this: You’re not going to win and you will not defeat us.”

For the past eight years, the NRA’s opponent was an imaginary all-powerful Obama. Now it is an imaginary, massive, violent, wealthy left-wing, gauzily defined and described. Enemies cobbled together from disparate incidents and exaggerations have one advantage over an enemy who is a real person: Anything you want to loop into it can be made part of the opposing cabal.

LaPIERRE: What a difference a year makes. Are you ready to get your country back on the right track? Let me hear you. Are you ready to fight back for what you believe in? I’ve been watching on TV yesterday, and I’m glad you are pumped up, because we have a real fight on our hands.

The truth is the far left — they’ve turned protesting into what seems like a full-time profession. Seriously. You would think that for $1,500 a week, they would at least know what they are protesting. I mean, you’ve seen it. I mean, half of them, they can’t even tell you. But one thing is for sure, we’ve all seen just how violent they can be.

Just look at Inauguration Day. They disguised themselves with black bloc ski masks. They spit in the faces of Gold Star families. They tomahawk beer bottles and rocks at police, putting multiple police in the hospital. They smashed businesses’ plate-glass windows while customers cowered inside.

Ladies and gentlemen, have we ever seen such anger in this country?

In California, a high school girl was asked, “Do you hate Mexicans?” When she replied no, they said, “You support Trump. You hate Mexicans.” And then they beat her up.

In San Francisco, they attacked a group of Trump supporters. They pelted a woman with eggs. They stole their Trump hats and then they burned them in the street.

The left’s message is absolutely clear. They want revenge; you’ve got to be punished. They say you are what is wrong with America, and now you’ve got to be purged.

But maybe it is time these protesters took some advice from Barack Obama. The election has consequences and we won. That’s right.

Folks, our long nightmare, it may not be over. The fact is, it may be just beginning. Right now, we face a gathering of forces that are willing to use violence against us.

Think about it. The leftist movement in this country right now is enraged. Among them and behind them are some of the most radical political elements there are. Anarchists, Marxists, communists and the whole rest of the left-wing Socialist brigade.

Many of these people literally hate everything America stands for. Democracy. Free-market capitalism. Representative government. Individual freedom. They want to tear down our system and replace it with their collectivist, top-down, global government-knows-best utopia.

And they’ve got money. Billions from George Soros to a vast network of leftist organizations.

And they all have different agendas, complaints, motives for what they do. But they all share one thing in common. They are angry, they are militant and they are willing to engage in criminal violence to get what they want.

National Rifle Association executive vice president and chief executive Wayne LaPierre spoke about opposition to President Trump. (Video: Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post, Photo: AP/The Washington Post)

Here’s what is different from the leftist violence we’ve seen in the past. For the first time, we also face an enemy utterly dedicated to destroy not just our country, but also Western civilization.

We also face a national media machine that is not only biased almost entirely one-way, it also dumps gasoline on simple political disagreement to turn it into cultural IEDs. They dehumanize, they demonize us all by calling us every evil name in the book. And when the anger explodes, what do they do? They step back, catch it on video, replay it nonstop for ratings and outrage and more chaos tomorrow when you turn on your TV.

Meanwhile, crime is rising again in many U.S. cities. According to the FBI, drug gangs are expanding their networks all across the country. The FBI also says gang members are infiltrating law enforcement and even the military. In jails, they are working with extremist groups that go all the way from white supremacists to black separatists to Muslim prison gangs.

On the outside, gangs are committing more and more cross-border crimes. According to the FBI, Mexican drug cartels are working with 100,000 street gang members in Chicago alone. Think about that!

I think we all agree we live in a more angry, dangerous world than we’ve seen in a long time.

A lot of people for a lot of reasons want to blow it all up and tear the whole thing down. It’s in the Saul Alinsky strategy of sowing grievance and indignation to raise holy hell. It’s in the leftist radical plan to tax capitalism to collapse. And it’s in the Rahm Emanuel doctrine of, “never let a crisis go to waste.” And it’s in the ISIS dream of a worldwide caliphate.

So, what happens when it all collects and collides like a hurricane? What happens when the national media wind machine blows it up into a firestorm? And what happens if, God forbid, our enemies use that to their advantage?

Is it anything but a matter of time before the terror and bloodshed we’ve seen in Brussels or Paris come home to America? Do we need to look any further than Boston, San Bernardino or Orlando to know that time has already come?

With social media, it’s easy enough to find out where to go and when. So what happens when terrorists tag along with a flash mob protest at your local airport and gas the place like they did in Tokyo? What happens when some freeway Facebook protest on your interstate highway brings it all to a screeching halt? If you end up late for work, that’s one thing. But what if you’ve had a heart attack and you are in an ambulance and you’re only a mile away from the hospital?

Another definition of terrorism is violence in the name of politics, and criminal violence has no place in political debate. Those who incite it or engage in it need to be prosecuted and punished, period.

The left’s violence against America has taken many forms. For example, left-wing judicial activism can be a form of violence against our constitutional system. Look at judicial efforts to block President Trump’s executive order to take a longer look at people coming from countries that sponsor or harbor terrorists. Yet, the protesters show up, the media amplify their anger and the elites? They go into a total meltdown.

It’s not that the Constitution is unclear on the issue. The president handles the foreign affairs of the country. It is an executive function. And the U.S. laws on the issue, they absolutely couldn’t be clearer. The president has absolute authority to suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens that he may deem to be appropriate to protect the interests of the United States of America.

Folks, when unelected, unaccountable judges can take that clear, unambiguous language and then twist it and pervert it to make it mean whatever they want, they might as well throw a molotov cocktail at the U.S. Constitution. They do violence to the Constitution’s separation of powers and the U.S. Code and the Supreme Court precedent. And they do violence to the checks and balances that keep government under control.

Because by making the law mean anything they want, they make the law mean nothing. As even the liberals’ own Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black said, and I quote, “Our Constitution was not written in the sands to be washed away by each wave of new judges blown in by each successive political wind.”

Ladies and gentlemen, the leftist media is responsible for blowing the winds of violence as well. Think about it. It’s bad enough when CNN openly fantasizes about what happens if the president-elect is assassinated before he takes the oath of office on Inauguration Day. And it’s bad enough that the London Times journalists can fret that quote, “The assassination is taking such a long time.” It is shameful and it is wrong — and so are the media’s deliberate lies aimed at destroying our freedom.

At the NRA, that’s something we’ve been dealing with for decades. Back in 2003 when the 10-year Clinton gun ban was set to expire, CNN deliberately tried to mislead the public. I happened to be sitting there in their studio live, so I called them out.


The following Monday, CNN couldn’t even make an honest retraction. They ended up calling it additional information. Yet, they went on to prove exactly what I said was true. Their story was phony and deceitful.

But here’s the really sad thing. If I hadn’t been sitting there live in the studio and caught them like a bank robber with a bag of money, with the dye exploding all over him, they never would have run the correction.

Folks, our country is under siege from a media carpet-bombing campaign. And America knows it. You can hear it in their tone. You can see the disdain on their faces. Everything from their word choices to their inflection is trained on one target: purposely and maliciously destroying the Trump presidency. No matter what it takes and no matter what it costs.

Here is an example. For years, the media, they couldn’t have cared less about Vladimir Putin or Russia. Or Obama’s promise to go easy on him after he was reelected, remember that? Which led to Obama’s slow-motion foreign policy train wreck in the whole region.

But now, barely a month into the Trump presidency, oh my gosh, they’re horrified. They’re all afret over the Russian-American equation.

Even more alarming is they have apparently found willing co-conspirators among some in the U.S. intelligence community. If an American president can’t talk to his counterparts in Mexico or Australia on a line that he knows is secure, then folks? Our national security is at risk.

You know, a hundred years ago, if you use eavesdropped and published the affairs of the head of state, you would have been tracked down and hanged for treason. Yet, today, Obama can commute the sentence of a traitor like Chelsea Manning, and all the media want to talk about are Manning’s underwear choices and makeup routines.

Today, Barack Obama is giving explicit support to these protesters. In his first public statement since the election, Obama said he was heartened. That the anti-Trump protests were exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake.

I mean, American values, really? You mean, like freedom of speech? Or just speech you agree with, like the safety-pin censors on college campuses today. I mean, God help you if you are a conservative and you want to speak at a college today, anywhere in this country.

Did you see their night of tolerance at Berkeley this month? I mean, Berkeley, the supposed birthplace of the free-speech movement of the 1960s, is now where speech is silenced. And its defenders are beaten by mobs and the police are told to stand down. They call people fascists, yet they use the same brutal tactics that the fascists used in Europe in the 1920s and the 1930s.

But I’ll say this: If they think they’re going to crowbar and hammer and burn the foundations of Western civilization, they better bring a big stick and pack a lunch because they will have one hell of a fight on their hands.

November’s elections proved it. America wanted a fighter and we got one with President Donald J. Trump.

For the last three decades, fighting for our freedom is something the NRA has done every single day. All across this country, it was NRA members and gun owners who made a difference in states like North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Florida — NRA members and gun owners helped put President Trump over the top.

Folks, the media said we were arranging deck chairs on the Titanic by backing Trump. But we’re still standing and we are still here and we’ve got President Trump’s back — for the next eight years.

We’ve got 5 million active NRA members, 25 million more who consider themselves NRA members, and we have gun owners and Second Amendment supporters all over this country.

So if you are a member of the leftist media or a soldier for the violent left, a violent criminal, a drug cartel gang member or a would-be terrorist, hear this: You’re not going to win and you will not defeat us.

You know, with all the threats facing America today, your right to protect yourself and your family may be more relevant and more urgently needed than ever before. Americans know that in their heart. Americans can feel that in their bones. That’s why they joined the National Rifle Association.

We’re the nation’s largest gathering of lawful, peaceable, right-thinking people who are absolutely determined to live our lives without fear.

In our families, in our homes, in our communities and across this country, we stand ready and resolved to defend our freedom and secure our safety against any enemy.

Terror knows no more ferocious foe than freedom in the hands of we the people. To defend it, we’ll go toe-to-toe with them in any arena they threaten. We’ll fight the violent left on the airwaves, the Internet and on TV.

We’ll fight the violent left in Congress and in the Washington bureaucracy.

And we’ll fight the violent left in statehouses and courthouses from coast to coast all over this country.

Make no mistake, if the violent left brings their terror to our communities, our neighborhoods or into our homes, they will be met with the resolve and the strength and the full force of American freedom in the hands of the American people, and we will win because we are the majority in this country.

So, what do you say? Are you ready to take on the leftists and protect the foundations of American democracy? Stand up and show them you’re ready to fight and ready to win. Show them that we will not submit, we will not be intimidated, we will never surrender.

Stand up, speak out, be bold, fight back and stand with the NRA to defend the greatest expression of human freedom ever expressed, the United States of America!

Thank you very much and fight for your freedoms every day. Thank you.