The National Rifle Association’s 2018 Leadership Forum kicked off in Dallas, Texas on Friday with anticipated speeches from President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and more.
Guns.com will keep you informed with a live stream of all the speeches. Check back for updates soon.
Chris Cox, NRA’s chief lobbyist, opened the forum with a rallying cry for the association’s five million members. “They cant beat us on the facts, but if they can shame us out of the fight, they will win,” he said of the fervent gun control movement gaining steam after the Parkland massacre. “In the face of their bitter hatred, there’s never been a more critical time for us to stand tall and, by God, to stand proud.”
Cox then handed the stage over to Stephen Willeford, the NRA member credited with interrupting a shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas last year.
Some 26 parishioners died and another 20 were injured when a former Airman opened fire with an AR-15 during a late morning service. Willeford, a nearby resident, heard the gunfire and rushed across the street to intervene.
“He had an AR-15, but so did I,” he told the crowd gathered at Friday’s forum. “I’m not the bravest man in the world or anything, but I was there and I could do something. And I had to do something.”
The gunman fled the scene and Willeford pursued, eventually leading police to the suspect about 10 minutes down the road from the church.
NRA leadership presented him with a lifetime membership Friday, saying Willeford embodies the association’s “force of good” in the world.
“He is no anomaly. He is not one in a million,” Cox said. “He is one of five million. He’s one of us.”
Vice President Mike Pence
Vice President Mike Pence took the stage first, describing himself as a card-carrying NRA member and dedicated conservative.
“I’m here to tell you you have two friends in the White House,” he said. “The right of the people to keep and bear arms will not be infringed.”
Pence touted the president’s policy victories since taking office last year — boosting defense spending, funding the beginning of a border wall, protecting the balance of the Supreme Court and appointing Constitution-friendly federal judges across the nation — before promising a solution to mass shootings mindful of the Second Amendment.
‘These and too many others acts of violence shatter our families and leave our nation searching for answers,” he said. “We will continue to bring American solutions to this crisis. We will end this evil and protect our civil liberties at the same time. That’s the American way.”
He capped off his speech encouraging Cox’s rally cry, saying “Stay in the fight. Exercise all of your fundamental rights. Live out your citizenship in all the ways that make NRA one of the potent forces of good in America.”