NRA de­ter­mined to turn elec­tion wins into ac­tion

Ex­pect re­sults from Trump sup­port

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVID SHERFINSKI

AT­LANTA | Gun rights back­ers need to make sure that elec­tion vic­to­ries trans­late into ac­tion on Capi­tol Hill and ex­panded sup­port in the states, the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion’s leg­isla­tive chief said Thurs­day, a day ahead of Pres­i­dent Trump’s speech at the NRA’s an­nual con­ven­tion.

En­act­ing con­cealed-carry re­ciproc­ity, which would al­low per­mit hold­ers from one state to carry their weapons any­where else in the U.S., is a top pri­or­ity for the NRA now that the or­ga­ni­za­tion has a friendly Congress and a pres­i­dent it ea­gerly backed.

But Chris W. Cox, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the NRA In­sti­tute for Leg­isla­tive Ac­tion, told The Wash­ing­ton Times that NRA mem­bers can’t be­come com­pla­cent in the post-Obama era.

“We’ll leave At­lanta with a de­ter­mi­na­tion to make sure that Novem­ber wasn’t a tem­po­rary mo­ment but a per­ma­nent po­lit­i­cal red line,” he said. “Amer­i­can free­dom and in­di­vid­ual free­dom is too im­por­tant to suf­fer due to ap­a­thy. NRA mem­bers know that, and I think you’re go­ing to see a re­flec­tion of that this week­end.”

Mr. Cox said the NRA is ex­cited to have Mr. Trump in the White House but that the work isn’t done.

“This is an im­por­tant time in Se­cond Amend­ment his­tory,” he said. “It was a crit­i­cal bat­tle that was won, but the war rages on and we’re still get­ting up and fight­ing ev­ery day to pro­tect the rights of our mem­bers, and it’s go­ing to be a big cel­e­bra­tion of that this week­end in At­lanta.”

Mr. Cox said ex­ec­u­tive ac­tions such as the se­lec­tion of Neil Gor­such for the U.S. Supreme Court and rolling back an Oba­maera rule on So­cial Se­cu­rity and gun back­ground checks give Mr. Trump a solid A thus far.

“Across the board, we are see­ing mea­sur­ables and de­liv­er­ables from Pres­i­dent Trump as it re­lates to the Se­cond Amend­ment,” he said.

“Now, does that mean ev­ery­thing’s done and we need to all stop wor­ry­ing? Of course not. The fight’s still there; we have to con­tinue to push the ball for­ward,” he said.

At the top of the list at the fed­eral level is get­ting the na­tional con­cealed carry re­ciproc­ity bill through Congress and onto Mr. Trump’s desk.

“The ex­pan­sion of self-de­fense will re­main our No. 1 leg­isla­tive pri­or­ity un­til the rights of lawabid­ing Amer­i­cans are re­spected,” Mr. Cox said.

“We’re work­ing hard to ed­u­cate and en­cour­age co-spon­sor­ship and work through the ap­pro­pri­ate leg­isla­tive process, and at the same time lever­ag­ing our great­est as­set in this fight, which are NRA mem­bers all across this coun­try,” he said.

“So we feel good about our chances, but there’s a lot of work to do, ob­vi­ously,” he said.

All 50 states al­low some kind of con­cealed carry, but they have dif­fer­ent rules and re­quire­ments about how peo­ple ob­tain per­mits and which out-of-state per­mits are rec­og­nized.

Gun rights ad­vo­cates say a na­tional stan­dard should be set, but op­po­nents of such a move say a fed­eral bill could un­der­mine states that have im­posed stricter rules.

“Get it passed — I don’t care how they do it,” said Paul He­im­bach, 78, a re­tired Air Force of­fi­cer from Florida. “The Democrats are go­ing to be against it re­gard­less.”

Erich Pratt, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Gun Own­ers of Amer­ica, said he has no doubt that con­cealed carry re­ciproc­ity will pass the House but not nec­es­sar­ily the Se­nate.

Repub­li­cans con­trol 52 of the 100 Se­nate seats but would have to at­tract some Demo­cratic sup­port to meet the 60-vote thresh­old needed to thwart any fil­i­buster.

“Get­ting the bill through the Se­nate will be a lit­tle bit tougher,” Mr. Pratt said. “We have a clear ma­jor­ity of sen­a­tors sup­port­ing the bill, and we are work­ing to make sure there are enough to break a fil­i­buster.”

Be­yond Congress, though, Mr. Cox said the NRA is en­gaged at the state level as well.

“We saw in Iowa a com­pre­hen­sive pro-Se­cond Amend­ment bill signed into law,” he said. “We’ve seen in state af­ter state more pro­gun laws. No anti-gun leg­is­la­tion has been signed into law this year, but ob­vi­ously we’re work­ing hard to make sure that holds.

“Whether it takes us into the Congress or onto the air­waves or into state leg­is­la­tures or into court­rooms, that’s where you’ll find us,” he said.

The NRA en­dorsed Mr. Trump at its con­ven­tion last year in Louisville, Ken­tucky, months be­fore the he for­mally ac­cepted the Republican pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion. Mr. Cox said the pres­i­dent’s at­ten­dance this year in­di­cates that he knows how crit­i­cal that sup­port was.

On Fri­day, Mr. Trump will be­come the first sit­ting U.S. pres­i­dent to speak at the con­ven­tion since Ron­ald Rea­gan.

“We made that com­mit­ment early,” Mr. Cox said. “We were con­sis­tent. It was a lonely sum­mer. There were times when we were the only group in Amer­ica with the guts to sup­port him.”

“But we never wa­vered be­cause the stakes of the elec­tion and con­se­quences of [the] elec­tion never changed,” he said.

Gun con­trol ac­tivists are plan­ning to protest in At­lanta this week­end af­ter Mr. Trump’s ap­pear­ance and have tried to or­ga­nize ag­gres­sively on lob­by­ing ef­forts in re­cent years as well.

Mr. Cox said the NRA can’t go “dol­lar for dol­lar” with some­one like for­mer New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who helped found the group Every­town for Gun Safety.

“But what we’ve been able to do is beat him vote by vote,” he said. “So if he wants to en­gage in this is­sue, we wel­come the fight.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Gun rights loom large at the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion’s con­ven­tion this week in At­lanta, where mem­bers are pleased with Novem­ber’s elec­tion re­sults. Pres­i­dent Trump will key­note the lead­er­ship fo­rum on Fri­day.

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