Speaking to a crowd at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Dallas, President Donald Trump sent attendees wild with four words every Second Amendment-loving Texan knows by heart.
During the speech, the president referenced the Lone Star State’s fight for independence from Mexico, telling the audience that the crowd wouldn’t be there “if not for a handful of determined and defiant Texans who refused to surrender their rights nearly two centuries ago.”
Trump referenced the 1835 Battle of Gonzales, the first skirmish of the Texas Revolution, which was precipitated by Mexican military marching into the small settlement of Gonzales to demand that the villagers surrender their cannon.
“They were not about to give up their only means of self-defense,” Trump said. “In response, (Mexican President) Santa Anna’s army returned with a large group of additional people.
“They had men all over the place, this army was big. This time they were met by dozens of Texans, soldiers, settlers and ordinary citizens, who had rushed to Gonzalez to defend their rights and their freedom as Santa Anna’s men watched from a distance, those brave Texans raised the flag for all to see.
“On the banner, they painted a cannon along with four words that echo through the ages,” Trump continued. “Come and take it.“
The crowd responded by cheering, followed by a chant of “USA! USA!”
“Like those early Texans, Americans will never surrender, ever, ever, ever,” the president continued. “We will never ever surrender. We will never give up our freedom. Americans are born free. We will live free and we will die free.”
“Come and Take It” — along with its ancient Greek twin, “Molon Labe,” which was popularized by the movie “300” — has become a sort of unofficial slogan of Second Amendment defenders, mostly for its association with the Battle of Gonzales.
In the end, the battle was a relatively minor skirmish; the Mexicans only lost one soldier and the sum total of injuries suffered by the Texan villagers was one, a broken nose when a man fell off a horse. In the end, however, the villagers kept their cannon and Texans eventually had their independence.
The president’s speech before the NRA’s national convention isn’t his first, but it is Trump’s first appearance before the group since a political rift opened between the NRA and the administration over the president’s apparent support of gun control measures in the wake of the Parkland shooting.
“Instead of punishing law-abiding gun owners for the acts of a deranged lunatic our leaders should pass meaningful reforms that would actually prevent future tragedies,” NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said after a February “listening session” by the president in which he seemed to express support for a multitude of gun control measures, including firearm seizures from persons deemed to be dangerous in which due process would be considered a secondary concern.
If those measures were still being supported by the president — or if there was any lingering animosity from NRA members over the adumbrated proposals for them — there was little evidence for it during Friday’s speech.
“Your Second Amendment rights are under siege,” Trump told the audience. “But they will never, ever be under siege as long as I am your president.”
Unambiguous language like that in support of the Second Amendment — along with the additional presence of Vice President Pence — was a definite signal of support on the part of the administration to the tens of thousands of NRA members gathered in Dallas, and the reaction of the crowd seemed to indicate that support was reciprocal.
Of course, it also probably didn’t hurt that he decided to put the spotlight on four words that reside in the heart of every gun-loving Texan.
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