Vice President Mike Pence delivered a blistering speech to the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Dallas, Texas, on Friday, challenging the mainstream media to “tell the whole story about firearms in America.”
The speech, together with President Trump’s address to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center later in the day, both emphasized solidarity with the NRA after a political rift opened between the administration and the gun advocacy group in the wake of the Parkland shooting.
In the wake of the February high school massacre, which took the lives of 17, the president seemed to float several gun control initiatives as a response to the tragedy in Florida. The public proposals, which were vague at best, were vigorously and immediately attacked by the NRA.
If there were any doubts about where the administration’s sympathies were, however, Pence seemed to put them to rest with the first paragraph
“I’m a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order,” Pence said, according to the White House’s transcript of the speech. “And I’m a card-carrying member of the NRA.”
“You know, last year, President Trump spoke to this very gathering; the first president to do so in 34 years,” Pence told the audience to applause. “And he told you then, in his words, that, ‘You have a true friend in the White House.’ And I’m here today, as his vice president, to tell you that you have two friends in the White House.”
Pence directly addressed the issue of school safety, emphasizing the work that the Trump administration had done to push policies like “allow(ing) qualified school personnel on a voluntary basis to carry concealed weapons” and “pursuing new resources to ensure that those struggling with serious mental illness have access to the treatment that they need.”
“With the president’s leadership, we’ve joined the NRA to call on states to give families and law enforcement the tools they need to stop mass shootings before they happen, because we know we can protect public safety and due process at the same time,” Pence said.
However, he said, “the media won’t talk about it, and we all know why.”
The mere mention of the media brought out boos from the Dallas crowd.
“Most of the national media is working an agenda very different than most of us in this room,” Pence said. “I mean, not only does the media too often ignore what our president is accomplishing, but they also won’t tell the whole story about firearms in America … They focus on the tragedies and the heartbreak. And well they should. But too often, many in the national media all but ignore what happens when well-trained, law-abiding gun owners save lives.”
“Let me tell you a few stories that you don’t hear much about in the national media, but they prove the point,” Pence continued. “Like the off-duty Marine in Atlanta, in 2009, who was attending a party that was overtaken by two would-be murderers. After the attackers separated the men and women, Sean Barner was able to get to the concealed firearm in his backpack. He killed one and ran off the other, preventing a terrible tragedy.
“Or how about the passerby outside a Philadelphia barbershop in 2015,” Pence continued. “He heard gunfire inside, he rushed in, he shot the attacker in the chest. And the Philadelphia Police Captain said, ‘He saved a lot of people in there.’ And he did.
“Or how about the Uber driver in Chicago, the same year, who saw a man open fire on a crowd of people on a Friday night. He pulled out his concealed weapon, he engaged the shooter, he hit the attacker multiple times, and saved the lives of people on that street that he’s never even met,” the vice president continued. “Or the story from just down the road, in Arlington, Texas, where exactly one year ago yesterday, a crazed man entered a bar, killed the manager, was prepared to kill countless others, when he was stopped cold by another patron, a fella who took his wife to dinner that night and had a firearm at his side.”
That, Pence told the audience, is “the truth is that these are the stories we don’t hear much about, yet they’re the stories that America most needs to hear.
“And so today, I want to call on the national media,” Pence said. “Start telling the whole story to the American people about firearms in this country.”
Of course, I wouldn’t be holding my breath if I were Pence, and I doubt he is. However, opportunities like the NRA convention are opportunities for counter-messaging by the administration and other conservatives, speaking truths about the Second Amendment that are rarely heard otherwise.
Pence only provided four instances of the proverbial “good guy with a gun” stopping violent criminals. There are a multitude of others. The estimated number of annual defensive use of guns, according to a 2013 study, ranges from 500,000 to over 3 million a year; that’s compared with an estimated 300,000 gun crimes in 2008.
The Second Amendment remains of the most effective ways an American can ensure their self-defense, no matter what the media narrative may intimate — and if Vice President Pence’s speech was any indication, it’s going to be protected without reserve as long as he and Donald Trump are in the White House.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.