A clip of Republican Governor of South Dakota Kristi Noem saying the National Rifle Association (NRA) is not “only made up of old white guys,” before another camera shot shows predominantly white men in the crowd, has gone viral on Twitter.
The governor was speaking at the NRA’s annual leadership forum, which took place on Friday at the Indiana Convention Center, in Indianapolis.
Gun control remains a divisive political issue across the United States, increasing in salience following mass shootings, such as Monday’s gun attack in Louisville, Kentucky, which left five people dead. The NRA generally opposes further gun control, arguing it would violate Americans’ Second Amendment rights, while supporters say it is needed to crack down on gun violence.
During her address, which was broadcast on C-SPAN, Noem said: “Now I probably don’t look like a traditional NRA member. The media would have us believe that the NRA is only made up of old white guys, and all you old white guys can be proud and raise your hands.”
This comment generated a wave of applause, causing the governor to briefly pause.
After this subsided, she continued: “But there’s a lot of other people, a lot of diversity within the NRA. Well let me tell you something, I may be a mom and grandma, but I am the NRA.”
At this point, footage from a different camera focused on the audience showed most of those in shot appearing to be elderly or middle-aged white men.
A 40-second clip of this segment was shared on Twitter by an L.A.-based social media user, receiving more than 1.1 million views.
Most of the comments mocked this reference to diversity, with one user in Kentucky commenting: “There’s white guys in hats, white guys not in hats, white guys with glasses, white guys with bifocals, white guys with tshirts, white guys with shirts that don’t fit. Tons of diversity.”
Vanity Fair special correspondent Molly Jong-Fast posted a screenshot of the crowd, sarcastically writing “Yes, very!” in response to Noem’s claim that the NRA is diverse.
Mitchell Robinson, a progressive member of the State Board of Education in Michigan, added: “That CSPAN camera operator deserves a raise—that was brutal.”
Another Twitter user, from Ashland in Oregon, pointed out there were some younger people, writing: “Yes, white guys old AND young.”
Newsweek has contacted the NRA for comment via the media contact form on its website.
According to its official website “firearms, firearm accessories, knives, and other items” were all banned from the NRA leadership forum, which was also addressed by former President Donald Trump.
Former Vice President, and also former Indiana governor, Mike Pence, who refused to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election results despite Trump’s insistence for him to do so, was met with a mixture of boos and cheers when he arrived to give his speech.