The National Rifle Association's annual leadership conference is always a treasure trove of GOP smack-talk and an all-out constitutional liturgy — and if Friday night's viral talking points are any indication, this year's celebration ranks further right on the political spectrum than usual. Not that that's surprising: it is the run-up year to a presidential election cycle, which means that the Republican machine was churning out even more harsh allegations than usual. Of course, one of the biggest showboats of the night was Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who told political opponent Hillary Clinton to "come and take" away his guns, if she so dared.
"I’ll tell you, if Hillary Clinton is going to join with Barack Obama and the gun grabbers and come after our guns, then what I say is come and take it," yelled an impassioned Cruz to a delighted audience of Second Amendment enthusiasts. "If they are going to come after the Constitution ... we say together, 'Come and take it.'"
Cruz added, "Thanks to the passionate leadership of the men and women in this room, every single one of President Obama’s proposal to undermine the Second Amendment was voted down on the Senate floor."
The evening wasn't just about Cruz though (although he most likely would have enjoyed that). Not to be outdone, Cruz's fellow 2016 hopefuls and GOP comrades-in-arms took it upon themselves to make a few inflammatory comments of their own.
"The sins of the evil do not justify the restrictions of [law-abiding citizens]," said Florida Senator and GOP hopeful Marco Rubio, addressing the large crowd. "In fact, the sins of the evil make those rights more critical." Rubio has a track record of NRA friendly behavior: in 2005, Rubio voted in favor of the controversial Stand Your Ground law, which states that a citizen may legally use deadly force in self-defense if they perceive that someone is a threat. It's an opinion he shares with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a fellow potential candidate and political rival who also spoke at Friday's gathering.
"I have a message for the Obama administration," quipped Bush. "Why don’t you focus more on keeping weapons out of the hands of Islamic terrorists and less on keeping weapons out of the hands of law abiding Americans?" Bush then compared Democratic gun-control legislation to a breakfast buffet for reasons only known to Bush.
Rubio and Bush weren't the only two Republican hopefuls vying for the spotlight at Friday's conference — The New York Times reported that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had a few words for the president and his liberal opponents as well.
"Some on the left might call it a scarlet letter, but I consider it a badge of honor," said Walker of his A+ rating with the NRA. Walker, who owns two guns and spends various hunting seasons tracking deer, pheasants, and ducks with his friends.
Added Walker, to thunderous applause:
Sometimes I think that the current occupant in the White House forgets that when the president is sworn in he takes an oath to 'preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Well Mr. President, the 2nd Amendment is part of the constitution. You don't get to pick and choose which part of the constitution you support. Preserving, protecting and defending it is not optional. It's mandatory.
No matter who scored the most points last night in their respective stump speeches and barbed attacks on gun control was irrelevant. Because in the grand scheme of things, if pro-gun rhetoric like this continues without regard to the rising number of school and public shootings, everyone loses.
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