NRA Mourns Loss of Former President Ronald Reagan


PDA






Desertdog
June 9, 2004, 03:00 PM
I remember when he was shot, he didn't blame the gun.
He blamed Hinkley, the guy holding the gun.
That is the way it should be.
Dd

NRA Mourns Loss
of Former President Ronald Reagan
"We will never disarm any American who seeks to protect his or her family from fear and harm." -- President Ronald Reagan

American Rifleman cover, July 1983.
White House photo by Jack Kightlinger.

The heartfelt convictions behind those words demonstrate why, in 1980, for the first time in its history, NRA formally endorsed a candidate for President of the United States. The October, 1980 issue of American Rifleman left no doubt as to where NRA stood on Ronald Reagan: "Very clearly, Governor Reagan -- a long-time member of NRA -- shares our fervent belief in the absolute meaning of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: that the Right to Keep and Bear Arms applies to the individual citizen and that it is a right inviolate, which cannot be abridged."

As NRA members mourn the loss of this great champion of freedom, we look back with respect at the forceful speech President Reagan delivered at the NRA Annual Meetings in Phoenix, Ariz., as reported in the July, 1983 issue of American Rifleman:


PRESIDENT Ronald Reagan stood proudly beneath the official seal of the National Rifle Association in Phoenix, May 6, and in a 37-minute address left no doubt where he and his administration stood on virtually every issue of importance to the NRA - from gun control and federal firearms law reform to hunter ethics, wildlife management and the sale of M1 rifles.
"I've always felt a special bond with members of your group," President Reagan told the NRA Legislative Session. "You live by Lincoln's words, 'Important principles may and must be inflexible.' Your philosophy puts its trust in people. So you insist individuals be held accountable for their actions. The NRA believes America's laws were made to be obeyed and that our constitutional liberties are just as important today as 200 years ago. And by the way, the Constitution does not say Government shall decree the right to keep and bear arms. The Constitution says 'the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.'"

Mr. Reagan's speech marked the first time a President in office had addressed the NRA membership. Nearly 4,000 packed the Phoenix Civic Center for the event, while another 1,000 watched on special closed-circuit televisions.

"Good organizations don't just happen," President Reagan told the NRA. "They take root in a body of shared beliefs. They flow from strong leadership with vision, initiative and determination to reach great goals. And what you've accomplished speaks for itself ..."

As proof of the NRA's legislative success, President Reagan pointed to the overwhelming defeat of Proposition 15 in California.

"You shocked California last November when you mobilized to help send Proposition 15 down to defeat. You pointed out that police would be so busy arresting handgun owners, they would be unable to protect the people against criminals. It's a nasty truth, but those who seek to inflict harm are not fazed by gun control laws. I happen to know this from personal experience."

Looking fit and at home in front of an audience which had hung banners proclaiming him "America's Number One Sportsman," President Reagan told the national news media that, "No group does more to promote gun safety and respect for the laws of this land than the NRA, and I thank you. Still, we've both heard the charges that supporting gun owners' rights encourages a violent, shoot-em-up society. Don't they understand that most violent crimes are not committed by decent, lawabiding citizens, they're committed by career criminals? Hard-core criminals use guns, and locking them up and throwing away the key is the best gun control law we could ever have."

President Reagan, endorsed by the NRA in 1980, reiterated his administration's support for tough, mandatory jail sentences for persons who misuse weapons in crimes of violence.

"I've said many times before that our administration did not come to Washington to continue business as usual. Either we make fundamental reforms that change things for the better, or we aren't doing our job. We think it's time for our loved ones to walk the streets of America without being afraid."

President Reagan used the forum to discuss national and international issues ranging from peacekeeping initiatives in Lebanon to the need for a revitalized U.S. military force. But nowhere were his points more telling than when he said headway was being made in a crackdown on crime in America.

"We have declared war on organized crime and the career criminal in America. More than 100 prosecutors' offices are working with special teams around the country to throw the book at career criminals in court. And we are determined to cripple the drug pushers who are poisoning the minds and bodies of our children. We want mandatory sentences, we want firm and speedy application of penalties, and we want to abolish parole for federal offenses. But there is one thing we do not want: we will never disarm any American who seeks to protect his or her family from fear and harm.

"Longer prison sentences and tougher treatment are beginning to pay dividends," he said. "And make no mistake: this is happening because you, the people, are fed up with crime. You're the ones who are organizing your local police, insisting that justice be carried out - and every time you do that you keep the spirit of democracy strong in America."

Noting that National Police Week followed the NRA Annual Meetings and recognizing the NRA's commitment to law enforcement, Mr. Reagan said, "Men and women in blue across America (should know) that we stand with you, this week and every week of the year." He urged support for the administration's call for a minimum mandatory jail term for the use of armor-piercing ammunition during a federal crime of violence.

"As we crack down on criminals," the President told the crowd, "we are trying to move forward on another front: to reform the firearms laws which needlessly interfere with the rights of legitimate gun owners like yourselves. We are working closely with your leadership and congressional supporters such as Senator McClure and Congressman Volkmer. I look forward to signing a bill that truly protects the rights of law-abiding citizens, without diminishing the effectiveness of criminal law enforcement against the misuse of firearms.

"Your leadership's support has been important to us," President Reagan, a long-time NRA Life Member who was honored for his support at the Legislative Session by NRA Executive Vice President Harlon Carter. "Just last year I signed two amendments into law: one eliminated recordkeeping requirements for .22 cal. ammunition and the other saved many custom gunsmiths from ruin."

Mr. Reagan also said he emphatically favors the Civilian Marksmanship Program because of its effectiveness in training American citizens in marksmanship, that the sale of M1 rifles through the DCM program had been expanded during his administration, and that he had instructed the Department of Defense to explore ways sales might be increased even further.

There was a Presidential commitment to another group of gun owners as well - America's hunters, whom Mr. Reagan praised as being the country's "foremost conservationists. Our administration believes in the concept of stewardship, caring for the resources we have for the benefit of mankind. We favor economic development - but not within our national parks or our wilderness areas. We have not and never will propose that. What we do say is: when the last administration arbitrarily closed tens of millions of acres of Alaskan lands, telling sport hunters to stay out, then, yes, we think that was wrong and we're trying to correct it." The President was referring to a bill by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), which would reopen 12 million acres of Alaska lands to sport hunting and sport hunting only.

In his speech, President Reagan said the budget for restoration and improvement of the National Park Service and wildlife resources, cut drastically during President Jimmy Carter's term in office, has been doubled. And with the NRA, he noted, the administration actively is working to correct the past destruction of America's wetlands.

"The backbone of our conservation efforts begins with American sportsmen," the President said. "For more than 40 years, hunters have been paying a special excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition through the Pittman-Robertson Act - nearly $1.2 billion since 1939. State wildlife managers have used these funds to preserve and enhance valuable wildlife habitats. Such wild creatures as the whitetail deer, ruffed grouse, wild turkey and pronghorn antelope, which were threatened with extinction in many areas, have been brought back, in some cases to great abundance.

"The money (from Pittman-Robertson) will fund important studies of game and their habitat; it will provide food and habitat projects for wildlife and portions will go for hunter safety courses - where our youngsters will be taught marksmanship, firearms safety, and some of the values and ethics of hunting and the outdoors. I greatly appreciate your contributions to preserving our national treasures for the benefit of our people and future generations.

"The United States remains the last, best hope for a mankind plagued by tyranny and deprivation," the President told the NRA Legislative Session. "America is no stronger than its people, and that means you and me. I believe in you. And I believe that if we work together, then one day we will say: we have fought the good fight; we have finished the race; we have kept the faith; and to our children, and our children's children, we can say: we did all that could be done in the moment that was given to us here on Earth."



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On May 9, 1983, NRA named President Reagan an Honorary Life Member, a title bestowed to just 19 individuals in the 133-year history of NRA. The resolution to confer the title on the President, as it appeared in the August 1983 issue of American Rifleman, is reprinted below:

WHEREAS, Ronald Reagan has restored confidence in government and has again raised the office of President to its rightful stature by his character, personal integrity, leadership and devotion to fundamental principles of constitutional government; and
WHEREAS, throughout his entire public life, President Reagan has been steadfast in his defense of individual rights and freedoms as guaranteed in the Bill of Rights; and

WHEREAS, despite great personal adversity, President Reagan has forcefully stood by his convictions in support of the second amendment right of citizens to keep and bear arms for any legitimate purpose, including self-defense; and

WHEREAS, he vigorously rejects the myth that gun control is crime control but instead firmly believes in the reality that the most effective form of crime control is swift and certain punishment for criminals; and WHEREAS, President Reagan, as a hunter, rancher and outdoorsman, is a conservationist in the truest sense; and

WHEREAS, the National Rifle Association of America is proud and greatly honored to have President Reagan as a Life Member; and

WHEREAS, the membership of the National Rifle Association of America has been singularly privileged to have Ronald Reagan as the first sitting President of the United States to address them at an annual meeting and to have him there reaffirm his commitment to those rights and principles which he and we share; and

WHEREAS, Ronald Reagan so exemplified the values, beliefs, and views of the membership of the National Rifle Association of America that in 1980 he became the only candidate in its history to be endorsed by the Association for the office of President of the United States; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that President Reagan be highly commended for his steadfast defense of the right to keep and bear arms, as well as the other fundamental principles upon which this great nation was founded; and, be it further

RESOLVED, that President Reagan be congratulated for his contributions toward restoring the greatness and dignity of the presidency and confidence in our federal government here and abroad; and, be it further

RESOLVED, that the Board of Directors of the National Rifle Association of America on May 9, 1983, by this resolution convey to President Reagan this Association's highest recognition for exemplary service to our nation and our association - Honorary Life Membership, and, be it further

RESOLVED, that Ronald Reagan heed the call of his 2.6 million NRA member fellow citizens to continue his vital service to this nation and the free world by serving a second term as President of the United States of America.

If you enjoyed reading about "NRA Mourns Loss of Former President Ronald Reagan" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
If you enjoyed reading about "NRA Mourns Loss of Former President Ronald Reagan" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!