E. F. Hutton may have coined the ad campaign, but these days, when Wayne LaPierre talks, people listen.

The most recent NASGW Annual Meeting and Expo Industry Breakfast was no exception – LaPierre was the keynote speaker and he had a powerful message of hope and responsibility to share with the record-breaking crowd in attendance. It’s possible to argue that he was preaching to the choir, but this particular choir was made up of industry leaders who left with a renewed sense of purpose and a clearer understanding of what we can do, both individually and collectively, to support the NRA and maintain our shooting sports heritage and businesses.

“It’s so important for us all, as individuals and as an industry, to protect our rights and shared heritage,” said Wayne Smith, NASGW President. “It’s about carrying the message of responsibility through action that will enable us to maintain our businesses, and continue our legacy with generations to come. The real bedrock of belief in freedom espoused by the NRA will resonate with so many Americans, and have the unifying ability to cross over party lines.”

One of the main components of LaPierre’s speech focused on dispelling the myths that have hovered around the NRA and its constituency for many years:

Myth #1–The NRA Is A Fringe Group Of Fanatics.
“The NRA is arguably the most mainstream group in the U.S., according to many comprehensive surveys,” said LaPierre. “There are 39.4 million registered voters that are either past or current NRA members, and more Americans today say that the NRA speaks for them more than any other group in the country.” As a matter of fact, a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation telephone poll of 1,002 U.S. adults was carried out in early December 2007, revealing that 65 percent of Americans believe the Constitution guarantees the right to keep and bear arms; including 72 percent of men and 58 percent of women polled.

Myth #2—Gun Control Laws Automatically Decrease Crime.
“Look at Washington D.C. and Chicago, where murder rates have doubled and tripled,” he pointed out. “And then consider Project Exile introduced in Richmond, VA in 1997. It resulted in 100 percent prosecutions, with 300 in the first year and ended up cutting gun-related crime by 60-percent.” The controversial program was designed to address gang violence which had been a huge issue for years in Richmond. Prior to its implementation, the level of murders and shootings had regularly increased each year, and the city ranked in the top five in national murder-per-capita rates.

The program’s premise was such that if police caught a criminal in Richmond with a gun committing a crime, the criminal automatically gave up his or her right to remain in the community — facing immediate federal prosecution and stiff prison sentences thereby being “exiled” to federal prison for years. This shifted the prosecution of illegal technical gun possession offenses from state to federal court, where they carried a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison under the federal Gun Control Act of 1968.

LaPierre also pointed out the positive impact that the NRA has had on our country over the years — an impact that is frequently overlooked by the media. The disparity in the portrayal of the NRA includes ignoring such contributions as the more than 20 million children who have completed firearm safety courses. LaPierre also noted that without the NRA there would be no interstate right to carry options, no large game hunting rounds, or pre-emption laws.

“We’re in this together, more than ever,” said LaPierre. To find out what you or your organization can do to support the NRA and its legislative efforts, please visit www.nra.org. To become a member of the NRA please visit www.insureyourgunrights.com