HOUSTON – National Rifle Association members are fighting a “culture war” that stretches beyond gun rights, the organization’s incoming president said Friday.
First Vice President James Porter will take over the top job Monday. On Friday, he gave short speech to a grassroots organizing meeting at the powerful gun lobby’s national convention in Houston.
“This is not a battle about gun rights,” Porter said, calling it “a culture war.”
“(You) here in this room are the fighters for freedom. We are the protectors,” said Porter, whose father was NRA president from 1959 to 1960, according to the organization’s website.
The NRA is fresh off a huge victory over President Obama on gun control, defeating a U.S. Senate vote on a major gun control bill that was introduced after December’s mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school.
Organizers anticipated a rollicking, Texas-sized party – both to celebrate the victory in Washington and recharge for more political struggles as gun control advocates tally their own successes in states around the country.
More than 70,000 people are expected to attend the three-day “Stand and Fight”-themed convention, which includes a gun trade show, political rally and strategy meeting.
Rob Heagy, a former parole officer from San Francisco, is one of them and was in lockstep with Porter.
“It is a cultural fight on those 10 guarantees,” referencing the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution. “Mr. Obama said he wasn’t going after our guns. As soon as the Connecticut thing happened, he came after our guns.”
NRA Executive Director Chris Cox bragged about the organization’s efforts to defeat the gun control bill.
“It was great to see the president throw a temper tantrum in the Rose Garden,” Cox said.
Debbie and Daniel Ferris of Gun Barrel City, Texas, also agreed with Porter’s assessment.
“It’s about fighting tyranny,” said Debbie Ferris, who has been an NRA member for five years. Her 35-year-old husband is a lifetime member.
Texas is one of the strongest gun rights states in the country, and more than 500,000 people are licensed to carry concealed handguns, including Gov. Rick Perry, who once bragged about shooting a coyote during a morning jog. Concealed handguns are allowed in the state Capitol, where simply showing a license allows armed visitors to bypass metal detectors.