INDIANAPOLIS — Former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence were among the speakers to address the crowd at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Indianapolis on Friday.
Other Republican speakers at the 2023 National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action leadership forum were Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, U.S. Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott had made video messages for the meeting because they were unable to attend.
Of those who spoke at the event, several are considering a presidential run. They all expressed support for Second Amendment rights during their speeches.
NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre welcomed Pence to the stage, and booing could briefly be heard throughout the crowd as he stepped up to the podium in his home state of Indiana, where he was once the governor.
Pence replied, “I love you, too,” which brought some laughter, and then he said, “The introduction I prefer is a little shorter: I’m a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.”
He said it was good to be back with all of the patriots in the NRA, the men and women who stand on the ramparts of freedom defending all of the God-given liberties enshrined in the Constitution of the United States every day.
“With your support, Trump and his administration championed freedom for four remarkable years,” Pence said. “Every single day, we stood for the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.”
Later in his speech, he said it had been a long time since he had stood at the podium before the NRA, and two years ago, he and his family moved back to Indiana and bought 5 acres and a pond.
“Times have changed for us all, haven’t they? In many ways, our country is almost unrecognizable from what it was just a few short years ago,” Pence said. “Today, our borders are under siege, inflation is at a 40-year high, gas prices are through the roof, crime is skyrocketing in our cities and the national debt is piling into a mountain range for our children and grandchildren.”
He then addressed the tragic violence that struck recently at a Christian school in Tennessee and a bank branch in Louisville, Kentucky, and suggested President Joe Biden and gun control extremists to stop endangering our lives with bans and stop tramping on the rights of the American people every time tragedy happens.
“Instead, you could join us in doing things that would bring real solutions and enhance safety to America’s families,” Pence said. “Take steps to end violent crime in major cities, confront the scourge of mental health in this country that is claiming lives every year.”
He said we have to rebuild institutional mental health care in America.
At the conclusion of his speech, Pence thanked the NRA members for their strong and unwavering stand for freedom and said, “God bless you all.”
After other speakers and video messages, Trump made his way onto the stage with a standing ovation and the crowd chanting, “USA, USA.”
Trump thanked everyone and said he was thrilled to be back with the hardworking, God-fearing, card-carrying patriots of the NRA.
“As a candidate in 2016, I promised you that I would save your Second Amendment from absolute oblation. That’s where it was going, and as your president, that’s exactly what I did,” he said. “We saved our Second Amendment, and we’re going to save it for a long time to come. It’s under siege, but we’re going to save it for a long time to come. Forever, as far as I’m concerned, forever, and thank you very much.”
Trump said he is proud to be the most pro-gun, pro-Second Amendment president the United States has ever had in the White House.
“I think that has been acknowledged, and with your support in 2024, I will be your loyal friend and fearless champion once again as the 47th president of the United States,” he said. “We have to remember in 2016, we won. We won the first time, and we did better the second time, got a lot more votes. A lot of bad things happened, though, didn’t they, huh? A lot of bad things happened.”
He said for seven years, all of us here today have been engaged in an epic struggle against the corrupt forces and communist maniacs, and they’re all over the place absolutely trying to destroy our country.
“They want to take away your guns while throwing open the jailhouse doors and releasing bloodthirsty criminals into your communities,” Trump said. “They want to abolish your borders and impoverish your families while spending your money on endless and very, very stupid foreign wars.”
Trump said they want to demonize patriots and persecute Christians while pushing the transgender cult on children.
“Under my leadership, we will quickly restore the most secure border in U.S. history,” he said. “We had the strongest border in history, and now, we have, I think, the worst border in the history of the world because no country, even a third world country, would allow what’s happening right now to us to happen to them.”
He said last month, our hearts were shattered by news of the monstrous attack on a Christian elementary school in Nashville that claimed the lives of three adults and three precious children.
“Today, we wrap those beautiful families in our love, and we lift them up in our prayers,” he said. “We also salute the law enforcement heroes who ran into danger and took out that killer with speed and skill that made us all very, very proud. That made us all very, very proud.”
Trump explained how our country has been chock-full of guns for centuries, and there was no talk of massacres of schoolchildren until around the year 2000.
“That’s when it really started. They started talking about it,” he said. “This is not a gun problem. This is a mental health problem. This is a social problem. This is a cultural problem. This is a spiritual problem.”
Trump concluded by saying we are a failing nation and a nation in decline.
“With a very dark cloud hanging over our country, I have no doubt that we will, together as a group, make America great again,” he said. “I have no doubt. Thank you. Thank you very much. God bless you all.”