The National Rifle Association is gearing up for a major campaign push to defeat President Barack Obama, who leaders say is just one Supreme Court justice away from a liberal majority that could sweep aside Second Amendment rights.
Christopher Cox, the executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, told attendees at the association’s annual gathering this weekend in Pittsburgh that the Supreme Court decided the landmark District of Columbia vs. Heller case by a vote of 5 to 4.
“What if he appoints just one more anti-gun justice to the U.S. Supreme Court and we go from one-vote victories to one-vote defeats for generations to come?” he told one audience. “My friends, praying for the health of five Supreme Court justices is not a strategy you want to stake your freedom on.”
Though Cox and other leaders said there’s no budget for 2012 political spending yet, they made it clear that the NRA will strongly back a gun-rights Republican going into the presidential campaign. They see a competitive GOP nomination process as beneficial to the extent that it results in helpful one-upmanship, with candidates trying to outdo each other’s on-the-record promises, Politico reported Sunday.
“In Barack Obama, we have a president who is more opposed to gun ownership than any in our history and who still believes he’ll prevail,” said conservative activist David Keene, the NRA’s incoming president.
“Make no mistake about it: Barack Obama, his minions in the Justice Department, his allies in the Congress, and his friends in the media would take our guns if they could and they will if they can.”
Before the NRA Annual Meeting formally convened on Friday in Pittsburgh, Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre told The Associated Press that the NRA would "actively oppose" President Barack Obama's re-election in 2012.
Even LaPierre admitted the group's opposition to Obama is "no surprise," but he felt a need to come out early and strongly to galvanize Second Amendment advocates to begin preparing for the election now.
There is some fear of complacency, considering how considerable legislative, judicial, and popular momentum now favors Second Amendment initiatives virtually nationwide.
But LaPierre, Cox and other officials attending the annual meeting blasted the incompetence of the administration’s enforcement of existing gun laws. They said Attorney General Eric Holder should step down for allowing an operation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to occur on his watch that involved the sale of guns to suspicious customers with ties to Mexican drug cartels.
The ATF allegedly encouraged gun dealers to sell multiple firearms to known and suspected criminals as part of a broader sting operation to crack down on gunrunning. In a speech to thousands of gun activists here, LaPierre said two assault rifles that the ATF "let walk" were found at the crime scene where a border patrol agent was gunned down in December.
"Operation Fast and Furious may have gotten one or perhaps two federal agents killed, and countless other innocent victims have been murdered with the illegal guns that our own government allowed into Mexico all to advance a political agenda," he said.
The longtime NRA leader played clips of Obama saying neither he nor Holder authorized the operation.
In an interview with NewsmaxTV, Cox said: “One or two guns being allowed to walk into Mexico is an outrage, thousands of guns is borderline criminal.”
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He said the investigation has to be taken out of the hands of both the Justice Department or the ATF.
“That’s the fox guarding the henhouse,” he said. “We’ve called on Congress to go forward with full investigations. Let’s get to the bottom of this. Gun-owners deserve the truth and the American people deserve to know the truth.”
“Fast and Furious,” was started by the Bush administration and expanded under Obama. Up to 1,700 guns were allegedly allowed to go to the cartels so they could be tracked. But when Border Agent Brian Terry was murdered in December along the Arizona border, some of the weapons were found at the scene.
“This does not look good,” Cox said. “People need to be held accountable and we deserve to at least know the truth. There’s been a lot of stonewalling. There’s been a lot of lying going on.
“This isn’t a new concern that we have with Attorney General Holder. During his previous life in the Clinton Administration, he was a vocal supporter of gun control, a vocal supporter of dismantling our Second Amendment freedom.”
Cox also addressed calls to outlaw assault weapons in the light of the January Tucson shooting in which six people were killed and Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was seriously injured. He called gunman, Jared Loughner “a mad man.”
“The truth is we need to have a discussion about mental health in this country,” said Cox. “You have a guy who had some kind of shrine set up in his parents’ back yard. There were red flags everywhere.
”We need to take these threats seriously. If someone’s acting like they’re a danger to themselves or others, people need to speak up.
“But the answer’s not one more gun law. You have a mad man who is willing to break dozens of laws at the state and federal level and to suggest that if we just pass one more, maybe he would become less crazy and maybe he would become a productive citizen is asinine.
“We’re willing to have a serious discussion about crime policy with anyone anywhere, but when you start talking about one more gun control law to stop a mad man it’s not a serious discussion.”
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