Remarks by President Trump at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum Indianapolis, IN
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana. 12:18 P.M. EDT. White House reports 4.27.2019 – THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) Well, I want to thank Chris and Wayne. I’m thrilled to be here in Indiana with the men and women of the NRA. You are great American patriots. (Applause.)
Chris Cox, Wayne LaPierre, Oliver North — I’ve been following Oliver for a long time. Great guy. Three extraordinary champions for the Second Amendment. And I’m a champion for the Second Amendment and so are you. It’s not going anywhere. (Applause.) It’s under assault. It’s under assault but not when we’re here. Not even close.
I also want to thank our tremendous Vice President and Indiana’s native son. Mike Pence has done a fantastic job. (Applause.)
And we’re grateful to be joined by a number of terrific leaders from the Hoosier State: Governor Eric Holcomb. Where is Eric? You can’t miss Eric. He’s so big. (Applause.) Thank you, Eric. Senator Todd Young, terrific guy. (Applause.) Thank you, Todd. Senator Mike Braun. What a job he’s doing. (Applause.) And Representative Greg Pence — familiar name. Thank you, Greg. (Applause.) Jackie Walorski. Jackie, thank you. (Applause.) Jim Baird and Jim Banks — great representatives. Thank you all very much. (Applause.) Tremendous help. Tremendous.
I also want to recognize Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. What a job he’s been doing. David, thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
A great friend of mine, Kentucky Governor, Matt Bevin. (Applause.) Thank you, Matt.
And the House GOP Whip — a man with more courage than most of us here today. He took some very, very severe shots — you know that — by a madman. And he’s stronger and better. I actually told him backstage, I said, “You’re much more handsome than you were two years ago.” I don’t know what’s going on. And he is. Steve Scalise. A lot of courage. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, Steve.
Most importantly, I want to thank all of you, the proud, card-carrying members of the NRA. (Applause.) Every day, you stand up for our God-given rights without exception, without fail, and without apology.
Together, we are fighting for the timeless values that have built and sustained our nation. And our nation is greater today than it has ever been. Stronger, richer. We’re doing better than ever before. We are great Americans. You’re doing a great job. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you.
We believe in the rule of law. And we will always protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. (Applause.) And there are some people that are running right now; I don’t think they have that number one on their list.
We believe that children should be taught to love our country, honor our history, and always respect our great American flag. (Applause.)
And we believe in the right to self-defense and the right to protect your family, your community, and your loved ones. We believe in the wisdom of our Founders. And we believe in freedom and liberty and the right to keep and bear arms. (Applause.)
We know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of American life. And above all else, we know this: In America, we don’t worship government; we worship God. (Applause.)
Every day of my administration, we are taking power out of Washington, D.C. and returning it to the American people, where it belongs. (Applause.) And you see it now better than ever, with all of the resignations of all of the bad apples. They’re bad apples. They tried for a coup; didn’t work out so well. (Applause.) And I didn’t need a gun for that one, did I? (Laughter.)
All was taking place at the highest levels in Washington, D.C. You’ve been watching, you’ve been seeing. You’ve been looking at things that you wouldn’t have believed possible in our country. Corruption at the highest level — a disgrace. Spying, surveillance, trying for an overthrow. And we caught them. We caught them. (Applause.) Who would have thought in our country?
But it’s called what we all together have done — started two and a half years ago on that great November 8th. That was a great day. Remember that day? (Applause.) Great day. And in a year and a half, we have one called “November 3rd.” It’s November 3rd this time. Get ready to vote. You better. You better get ready to vote. But it’s all called “draining the swamp,” and we are doing it faster than anyone ever thought possible. Very proud of that. (Applause.)
And around the world, America is respected again because we are finally putting America first. Been a long time.
Our economy is now the hottest anywhere on the planet Earth. Just this morning, we learned that the GDP smashed expectations, with the economy growing at an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the first quarter — always the worst quarter for whatever reason. 3.2. (Applause.)
And if we kept the same interest rates and the same quantitative easing that the previous administration had, that 3.2 would have been much higher than that. But they hadn’t hit these numbers in 16 years.
We had a tremendous increase in inventory investment. You know what that means. And — listen to this — a very big increase in net exports. Isn’t it about time? Isn’t that nice? (Applause.)
We’ve added almost 6 million jobs since my election. And if I would have said that during the campaign, all of those people back there — we call them the “fake news” — they wouldn’t have believed it. They’re fake.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: They’re fake.
Blue-collar jobs recently grew at the fastest rate in more than three decades. Nearly 5 million Americans have been lifted off of food stamps since our election. (Applause.)
Wages are rising fast, and the lowest-paid workers are making the biggest percentage gains of all. And that’s nice to hear. It’s about time. (Applause.) Unemployment recently achieved its lowest rate in 51 years, and very shortly, it should be its lowest rate in the history of our country. (Applause.)
African American, Asian American, Hispanic American — have reached the lowest levels of unemployment in our history. (Applause.)
America’s future has never been brighter, and yet Democrats have never been angrier, especially now that their “collusion delusion” has been exposed to the world as a complete and total fraud. (Applause.) It’s been the greatest political hoax ever in our country.
Instead of working with us to rebuild our infrastructure, lower drug prices — which, by the way, this year, for the first time in 50 years, drug prices went down. (Applause.) They’re going to go down a lot lower. And instead of working with us to fix our trade deals — which I’m doing without them — and continue creating millions and millions of new jobs, which we’re doing at a level that people have not seen before, that people don’t even believe, Democrats are obsessed with hoaxes, delusions, and witch hunts. It’s what they’re obsessed with. That’s what they want to do. And we can play the game just as well or better than they do. (Applause.)
Far-left radicals in Congress want to take away your voice, your jobs, your rights, and they especially want to take away your guns. You know that. They want to take away your guns. You better get out there and vote. You better get out there and vote. It seems like it’s a long ways away. It’s not.
I was saying to Melania, our great First Lady, whose birthday it is today. Happy birthday, Melania! (Applause.) I remember standing, two and a half years ago, in the same hallway where Abraham Lincoln and so many others have stood. My first night in the White House and I said to Melania — I said, “This is incredible.” And four years seemed so long away. And now here we are. We’re getting ready to start up the campaign again. Start up the campaign again. (Applause.) I never want to do anything with MAGA because MAGA country and MAGA — “Make America Great Again” has been great, but we’ve really made it great. We’ve made it great. We’ve brought it back.
And we’re thinking about — slogan: “Keep America Great.” Because you have socialists and far-left Democrats that want to destroy everything that we’ve done. Your 401(k)s are going through the roof. Your stock market, since the election, has hit a record high. Almost a hundred different records I’ve broken. Record high.
But everyone is like a genius now. They buy stock and they’re all up. Everybody is benefitting and jobs are benefitting. But it can all be taken away when you start putting the wrong people in office. We’ve cut regulations more than any President in the history our country. And that’s in two years.
In two years, we did more to regulation — (applause) — think of that — than any President in the history of our country. It’s one of the reasons our jobs are booming; one of the reasons the economy is booming. We gave you the largest tax cut in the history of our country. The biggest, ever. (Applause.) And we got ANWR approved. And we got the individual mandate, the absolute worst part of Obamacare, eliminated. Now we’re going for the rest. (Applause.) And we had it done except for one vote. You know what I’m talking about. One vote.
In recent days, leading Democrats have proposed banning new guns and confiscating existing guns from law-abiding citizens. What they don’t tell you is the bad guys aren’t giving up their guns. And you’re not going to be giving up your guns either. (Applause.)
At the same time, House Democrats recently voted against notifying ICE — these brave, great, talented, brilliant patriots — when an illegal alien attempts to buy a gun, which is a felony. Democrats also support sanctuary cities that release thousands of dangerous criminal aliens onto our streets.
In fact, they like the criminal aliens and aliens so much that when we’re forced to release them into our country because of the horrible immigration laws that the Democrats refuse to give us the votes — we need some of their votes to change — we give them as many as they can handle. (Applause.) And they’re not too happy about it, folks. They’re not too happy. They said, “Who came up with that idea?” (Laughter.) They said, “Only Trump could come up with that idea.” (Laughter and applause.) We give them as many as they can handle.
In other words, Democrats want to disarm law-abiding Americans while allowing criminal aliens to operate with impunity. But that will never happen as long as I’m your President. Not even close. (Applause.) I promise to defend the Second Amendment rights of every American, and I always will. I’ll never let you down. (Applause.) Never let you down. I haven’t so far, and I won’t. Because as the famous saying goes, when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. Very simple. (Applause.)
The Democrats are also working hard to block the wall, but we are building the wall. They’re not happy about it. And we will have over 400 miles of wall built by the end of next year. (Applause.) We’re building a lot of wall, and I want to thank Border Patrol. I want to thank our great military. And I want to thank the Army Corps of Engineers. They’ve been incredible.
And we are doing something that I could do very quickly, and we’re doing it very quickly. But dealing with these people is very, very difficult, if you haven’t noticed, okay? Any politician would’ve given up a long time ago. So we’ll have over 400 miles of wall built by the end of next year. It’s going up rapidly. Rapidly. (Applause.)
We’re also renovating tremendous stretches of wall. We have wall that’s in bad shape but it’s structurally sound. And rather than building new, we renovate it. We make it as good as new, save a lot of money, and we gain a lot of territory. So we have a lot of great things going. A lot of great things going. (Applause.)
Most importantly, Democrats must change our immigration laws right now. Right now. We can do it in — I used to say 45 minutes. We can do it in 15 minutes. It’s very simple. You know the programs; they’re horrible. The asylum — where rough, tough MS-13 gang members come in. You don’t want to meet with these people, but ICE doesn’t mind because ICE is throwing them out of our country by the thousands. And the Democrats want to eliminate ICE. Can you believe that? (Applause.) Boy, oh, boy.
But it’s incredible what they’ve done. It’s incredible what we’ve done. But they stand there — asylum — and they read a statement, “I am afraid for my life. I am afraid to go back to my country. I want to be an American!” And you look and you see a toughness that you don’t see. And you just see what happens with the mayor of Tijuana and others. They say, “These people, we try and help them, and they start hitting us. They start punching us.” We don’t want them in our country, and they’re not getting into our country. And when they have in the past — a lot of them have come in — we’re throwing them the hell out. They’re out. We’re getting them out. (Applause.)
But we can fix the problem so easy. And when we fix the problem — the wall is one thing. And that will have an incredible impact. But they won’t even be coming up if we change our old, broken, ridiculous, weak immigration laws. They won’t even be coming up. They won’t make the journey. The wall is still good to have. We need the wall.
But all of those people you see coming up — thousands and thousands of people — they won’t be coming because they’re going to say, “There’s no way we can get into the United States anymore, except by going through legal channels.” And what we want is we want people. We need them for all of the great companies that are coming in. But people have to come into our country legally and through merit. Through merit. (Applause.)
One of the gravest threats to the Second Amendment, and to American freedom itself, are activist judges. You see it every day. Every day. They almost always file in a certain little jurisdiction; I won’t tell you what it is, but you all know. Every time we get sued on the ban, which we ended up winning — you know, we have the ban. We lost in the Ninth Circuit; we shouldn’t have. We lost in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which we shouldn’t have. And we won at the United States Supreme Court. So we have the ban. Travel ban.
But the reporters — the other day, some reporter said, “Donald Trump, who lost the travel ban…” I didn’t lose it. Well, what he meant: I lost it in the Ninth Circuit. But he didn’t say we won at the United States Supreme Court. So everybody said, “Oh, that’s too bad. He lost the…” No, no. We won the travel ban in the United States Supreme Court. (Applause.) But they don’t say that.
So when we confronted them, they said, “No, we were referring to the lower courts.” I said, “What about the upper court? They ruled. It’s done.” “Well, we weren’t talking about the Supreme Court. We were saying you lost…” These are very, very dishonest people, okay? (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: Nobody gets it. Why? They’re opposed to strong military. They’re opposed to all of the things we’ve done, including making our nation wealthy, including high GDPs, including all of the security and all of the law enforcement, all of the things we’re doing. It’s incredible. Nobody understands it.
Someday, we’re going to figure it out, and I’ll feel much better about it. But why are they opposed to things that truly make our country great? Why? Nobody gets it. I don’t get it. The level of dishonesty and corruption in the media is unbelievable. (Applause.)
But we’re stuck with activist judges who seek to rewrite our Constitution to force their own radical views onto our country.
That is why my administration has led a historic effort to confirm fair and impartial and mostly conservative judges who will interpret the Constitution as written. (Applause.) And I’m very proud to announce that we will soon have 145 federal judges confirmed — a record number — including two great Supreme Court judges — (applause) — Justice Gorsuch, Justice Kavanaugh. (Applause.) Two fantastic justices.
In fact, next week, we will confirm our 100th federal judge. Nobody knows what that means. The percentage is incredible. Nobody knows what that means. And in the end, I expect to have the second-highest percentage of judges confirmed in the history of the United States — more than any other President, except one — I’ll never beat this one — percentage of judges approved. You know who the one is? Take a guess. George Washington. He gets 100 percent. (Applause.) No, he had 100 percent. He named every one of them. But you know what? We’ll have more of them. George Washington.
But we’re also defending free speech on our college campuses. (Applause.) Last month, I signed an executive order requiring public colleges and universities to respect the First Amendment rights of their students, or risk losing tens of billions of dollars in federal funding. If you don’t want to hear another voice, you don’t get all of this tremendous amount — in some cases, ridiculous amounts of dollars. (Applause.)
And we have shut down the previous administration’s massive abuse of power known as Operation Choke Point. (Applause.) Under this ill-advised program, government bureaucrats discouraged banks from making loans to gun retailers — a backdoor attack on private gun ownership that will never be allowed to happen on my watch. That’s step one, folks. (Applause.) Step one. You know what step two, three, and four is. Step four is: You don’t have guns. You don’t have any way to protect yourself.
Today, I’m proud to announce another historic step to protect your Second Amendment rights. And I didn’t tell Chris and Wayne and Oliver; I didn’t even tell them about it. So they’re listening in this big room someplace, and they’re saying,
“I wonder what he’s going to do.” The good thing with me: You never know. (Laughter and applause.) Never know. That’s why we’re making trade deals that are so good for our country.
So, in the last administration, President Obama signed the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty. And in his waning days in office, he sent the treaty to the Senate to begin the ratification process.
This treaty threatened your subjugate — and you know exactly what’s going on here — your rights and your constitutional and international rules and restrictions and regulations.
Under my administration, we will never surrender American sovereignty to anyone. (Applause.) We will never allow foreign bureaucrats to trample on your Second Amendment freedom. And that is why my administration will never ratify the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty. I hope you’re happy. (Applause.)
I’m impressed; I didn’t think too many of you would really know what it is. You what it is? A big, big factor. But I see a couple of very happy faces from the NRA over there.
And I am officially announcing today that the United States will be revoking the effect of America’s signature from this badly misguided treatment [agreement]. We’re taking our signature back. (Applause.) The United Nations will soon receive a formal notice that America is rejecting this treaty. (Applause.)
As part of this decision, I will sign right now, in front of a lot of witnesses — a lot — (applause) — it’s a lot of witnesses — a message asking the Senate to discontinue the treaty ratification process and to return the now-rejected treaty right back to me, in the Oval Office, where I will dispose of it. (Applause.)
By taking these actions, we are reaffirming that American liberty is sacred and that American citizens live by American laws, not the laws of foreign countries. Thank you. (Applause.)
[The President holds up document.]
They all want the pen. Can you believe these people? (Laughter.) Should I give it to them?
THE PRESIDENT: Famous pen.
As we protect gun rights for law-abiding citizens, we are also getting guns out of the hands of violent criminals.
When I took office two years ago, one of my highest priorities was to reduce violent crime. In the two years before my inauguration, the murder rate had increased by more than 20 percent, and the United States had experienced the largest increase in violent crime in over 25 years.
For this reason, my administration resurrected Project Safe Neighborhoods, bringing together prosecutors, police, sheriffs, and citizens groups to put the most dangerous offenders behind bars.
We funded 200 new violent crime prosecutors. We charged a record number of criminal offenders. And last year, we prosecuted the most violent criminals ever in our history.
And now, violent crime is way down. Murders in America’s largest cities dropped by 6 percent between 2017 and 2018. But I do have to ask you: What the hell is going on in Chicago? What is going on? (Applause.) We could solve that problem. We would’ve been down even a lot more. And it’s not a tough problem to solve. You got to let law enforcement do what they have to do. They’ll solve the problem very quickly. Very quickly. (Applause.)
We don’t think enough about the victims. They’re too worried about the people that cause the crime. It’s got to stop. That thought process is no good.
The number of police officers shot and killed in the line of duty last year, I’m so happy to report, is down 21 percent compared to the year before. (Applause.) And that was the year before I took office.
One of the reasons is that we are supplying police with surplus military equipment, supplies, and gears that the previous administration refused to give up. This is surplus. This is extra. We don’t need it. Great equipment. Sitting in warehouses all over the country. Billions of dollars of equipment that the military no longer needs or wants or uses, but the top of the line. Some of it has never been used — brand new — from vehicles to, essentially, supplies of all kind, including bulletproof vests. And rather than having it sit and draw dust, I had it distributed all over the country to our police departments. (Applause.) And that’s why you see these numbers. It’s a great thing.
You know, a lot of being President is common sense, right? Don’t you think? Right? Common sense. (Applause.) Have a good heart, but it’s common sense.
In this administration, we will always stand with the heroes of law enforcement. They’re heroes. (Applause.) They’re brave. They’re great. And they will tell you they haven’t felt so proud of themselves for many years, because they were abandoned by Washington. They were abandoned by our politicians. And not just the Obama administration — before that. They felt abandoned. Well, they know that I love them, and we’re going to protect them just like they protect us. (Applause.) Incredible people. Great people.
We’ve also taken critical steps to improve school safety. More than 30 states now allow teachers that are highly trained — highly trained, talented people — to carry guns in the classroom to protect themselves and to protect their students, who they love. (Applause.) Who’s better? Who’s better? I’ve been calling for that for the last two years, and I think we had a big impact. Some legislations passed, and they don’t have the few paragraphs, and the legislators actually go back to governors and say, “We’re not passing it unless you allow that to happen.” So we’ve come a long way. But who’s better to protect our students than the teachers that love them?
Through STOP School Violence grants, we are helping local schools and police departments to hire more officers, train more teachers, and address early warning signs of mental illness. (Applause.)
Every day, citizens across America exercise their constitutional right to defend themselves, their families, and their communities. That’s a constitutional right. (Applause.) They want to take it away from you. They will take it away. You let these maniacs get into office, they will take that right away. I mean, you see what’s going on. “Let the Boston bomber vote. He should be voting.” Right? I don’t think so. “Let terrorists that are in prison vote.” I don’t think so. Can you believe it? But this is where some of these people are coming from. And they’re the most popular ones.
When Bernie Sanders made certain statements the other day, I said, “Well, that’s the end of his campaign.” Then, what happened is everybody agreed with him. (Laughter.) Or most of them.
We know that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. (Applause.) Now, I wanted to be a little bit more original than to use a phrase that you probably heard a thousand times. But what’s a better phrase than that? We can’t do better. How simple is that?
Today, I want to give a few of these brave citizens the chance to share their stories directly with the American people. A lot of television back there. Of course, when I start going after them, you watch those red lights go off. They don’t want any part of it. They turn those lights. Then they come back. They need the ratings. (Laughter and applause.) They come back.
In fact, at a certain point, I think they’ll probably all endorse me, because would they be dead without me? Can you imagine? Can you imagine having some nice, boring person get up here? Well, they wouldn’t be up here. They would be as far away from you as possible. (Applause.)
April Evans joins us from Virginia. One night in 2015, she was home alone with her two-year-old daughter when an intruder broke into her home violently. April took care of it. April, please come up. Please, April. (Applause.)
MS. EVANS: My husband is a police officer and he works night shift. One night, he was at work, and my daughter and I were home alone. Someone started banging so hard on the door it broke in two places. He demanded that I let him in.
I called 911 and I went to my room to get the gun. I heard a loud crash, and when I came out to the hallway to see, he was running towards me with a look in his eyes that I’ll never forget. I shot him twice and I held him at gunpoint until the police arrived. (Applause.)
This event was something that changed my life. I’ve never been more afraid but I’ve been standing strong. And I’ve told my story again and again, because with each person I told, they stood a little taller knowing that if I could protect myself and my family, that they could too.
Protecting my family would not be possible without the right to bear arms. It’s an issue that’s obviously close to my heart. If these rights had been taken from us, I may not be standing here today and I may not have a healthy, now-six-year-old daughter.
I’d like to thank you, Mr. President, for your unapologetic stance on our right to bear arms. I truly believe those rights saved my life and the life of my daughter that night. (Applause.) Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, April. She was able to defend herself.
Also with us is Mark Vaughan, who owns a meat processing plant in Oklahoma. When an employee began attacking coworkers with a knife viciously and violently, Mark drew his gun and ended the assault immediately, saving countless innocent lives. Mark, please come up. (Applause.)
MR. VAUGHAN: Thank you, Mr. President. Welcome all.
I got a call late one Thursday afternoon while I sitting at my office. A frantic call from our customer service group said an attacker with a knife was victimizing people in our office. I ran to my vehicle, ran the 100 yards to the other end of our complex. It was a very chaotic scene: screaming, crying, blood everywhere. I immediately entered the building, ran down a hall — I immediately entered a building, ran down a hallway, and saw a man attacking a woman in the neck and head with a large knife.
I yelled. He stopped, paused for a moment, and ran at full speed toward me. At about 18 feet, I fired three rounds from my AR-15 Carbine — (applause) — immediately incapacitating the subject.
He was a determined attacker. Unbeknownst to me, moments before, he had decapitated a coworker and had targeted several others in our operation to be attacked that day. I was able to take that action because I had a gun and I was prepared to use it. These are central missions of the NRA. And I thank you, NRA, for that, and everyone here. (Applause.)
We have but one true thing — one true mission before us today, and that’s to come together like we never have before to preserve our foundational freedom to bear arms in the defense of ourselves, those we love, those we seek to protect, and most importantly, our liberty.
Lastly, I’d like to express gratitude. No other President in our lifetime has stood with us so strongly in defense of our Second Amendment rights. Thank you, Mr. President. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mark. I appreciate that. Thank you very much. Great job. Thank you.
Finally, Stephen Willeford joins us from Sutherland Springs, Texas — great state of Texas — (applause) — where a mass shooter opened fire at the First Baptist Church — you all read about it — in November 2017, taking many innocent lives. Wonderful, wonderful people. Stephen heroically risked his life to bring the horrible violence to an end.
Stephen, please come up and say a few words. (Applause.)
MR. WILLEFORD: I would like to thank, first, the NRA for this opportunity, and then I would like to thank our President for this opportunity.
On November 5th, 2017, I was home because I normally started — I was going to start my on-call at the hospital, where I work as an emergency plumber during on-call and could be called lot. So I stayed home from church that day because I wanted to get rest. It wasn’t to happen.
My daughter came into my bedroom and said, “Dad, doesn’t that sound like gunfire to you?” I ran to my window thinking it was someone tapping at the window. And she said, “No, come into the kitchen,” where I immediately said, “It is gunfire.” My daughter was an NRA distinguished expert when she was eight years old. (Applause.) All three of my children — my other daughter and my son — were NRA distinguished experts by the time they were eight years old. I was an NRA instructor.
I ran to my safe, and my daughter ran outside — ran out to her car, got in the car, and ran reconnaissance for me. She ran up to the corner and came back while I was getting a gun out of my safe and loading it.
And she said, “Dad, there’s a man in black tactical gear shooting up the church.” And I said, “Did you call 911?” And she said, “I did. They’re aware of it.” Right away, they told me police were coming but I couldn’t wait.
I couldn’t wait. Our police department in Wilson County has some of the best officers in this world and they were racing as fast as they could, but my community couldn’t wait for them.
I ran out the door and I told my daughter to load another magazine for me because I gave her busy work. I didn’t want her to be there if I failed. And I didn’t want her to be there for a target for him.
The Holy Spirit took over me at that moment. And as I ran across the street, I yelled out. The gunman heard me inside and so did some of the people from the church. So did my own daughter.
He came running out of the church and started shooting at me. I put two shots center mass. He stopped shooting at me and ran to his vehicle. The two shots center mass — he had class III body armor on — they made no difference. But when he ran and turned around his door to his vehicle, I put one in his side and one in his legs.
He got in his vehicle. He put two more shots through the side window. I put one where I perceived his head to be and shot through the window. He took off and ran away down the street, and I’m thinking, “Oh, my God, he’s getting away.” I ran out into the street and took one more shot that went through his back window, penetrated the driver’s side seat, and hit him just right of the left shoulder blade. He continued to run.
I met up with a man that was just parked and watched the whole thing. And everybody in this world would have just driven on. But this is Texas. We are known for our sanity. (Laughter and applause.) I found out later his name is Johnny. And I got in the truck with Johnny and we gave chase. And at the end, the gunman, being the coward that he was, took his own life.
Inside the church were more heroes than we can even talk about in our limited amount of time. But I’m here today to talk about the fact that I used my own AR-15 to confront a shooter that had dropped fifteen 30-round magazines in my church.
He murdered 26 people and injured 20 more. There were only seven people that walked out of that church without a gunshot wound. If it were not for our Second Amendment rights, and the right to carry an AR-15, the same style gun that he had, then I would have been outgunned myself. (Applause.) And if it were not for God covering me and protecting me, I would not have been successful that day.
I want to thank the NRA for being relentless in protecting our Second Amendment rights. And I would like to thank this President for defending the Second Amendment. And I would like to say today, he says, “Make America great again.” And he’s including you. You will make America great again with him. But he needs you. He needs your vote. And if you do not get out there and vote for this man, then it’s on you.
Thank you very much to the NRA and thank you for President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Wow, what a job. Thank you. Thank you. Can’t say it better than that.
But I want to thank you all for your courage, because you’re really living proof that law-abiding gun owners make a tremendous, tremendous difference. Tremendous difference.
You know, Paris, France, they say, has the strongest gun laws in the world. And you remember those maniacs, when they went into the nightclub. I use this example. There are many examples. But they shot one person, another person, another person, another person. Hundreds of people dead and horribly wounded to this day. That was five years ago.
If there was one gun being carried by one person on the other side, it very well could have been a whole different result. The shooting went on so long and there wasn’t a thing you could do about it. “Get over here.” Boom. “Get over here.” Boom. And then they left. They were captured later. If there was only one gun. If there were two, three, four, it wouldn’t have happened. Tiny percentage, by comparison. But it probably wouldn’t have happened because the cowards would’ve known there are people in there having guns. Wouldn’t have happened.
So people don’t really understand the other side of the argument. I have the debate a lot, and I win the debate all the time. And the next day, you see the same person who was so badly defeated in the debate going out and saying the same thing, even though he or she, I really believe, know that you can’t justify their side of the argument.
So, gun owners make our communities safer and they make our nation stronger. Americans have always understood this truth, going back to the earliest days of our nation.
Two months before the American Revolution broke out, with the shot heard around the world, a group of patriots gathered along a bridge in Salem, Massachusetts. In the preceding months, British soldiers had confiscated muskets in Boston. You know the story well. Gunpowder was seized in Somerville. And the patriots in Salem knew that the Redcoats would soon come for the town’s cannons.
But the Americans were prepared — they already loved our country — and they were determined to defend their rights to the death. When hundreds of British soldiers arrived at the bridge, the Americans stood firm, blocking their path. When swords were drawn, they didn’t flinch. When the Redcoats tried to steal American boats, the patriots sank those boats and sank them very quickly. When a British soldier held the tip of his bayonet against a man’s chest, that man — Joseph Whicher — tore open his shirt and dared him to do his worst.
Soon, the crowd grew larger, as civilians came from miles around to stand side by side with their great countrymen against tyranny. In the face of such unbreakable resolve, the King’s soldiers had no choice but to admit defeat and failure and retreat.
In the courageous actions of those early Americans, we see the defiant and determined spirit of patriotism that has always willed America to its greatest victories. It is a spirit that is passed down from generation to generation, from fathers and mothers to sons and daughters. It is the spirit that lives in each and every one of you.
Our duty, our responsibility, our sacred charge, is to preserve the freedoms that our ancestors gave their very lives to secure. Because no matter how many centuries go by, no matter how much the world changes, the central drama of human history remains the same.
On one side are those who seek power, control, and domination. And on the other side are patriots like those in this hall who stand upright and plant their feet in eternal defense of our liberty.
And with God as our witness, we swear today that we will defend our rights, we will safeguard our freedoms, we will uphold our heritage, we will protect our Constitution, and we will make America stronger, prouder, safer, and greater than ever, ever, ever before! (Applause.)
To all of our incredible friends at the NRA: Thank you for fighting the good fight. It is an honor to fight by your side, and it’s an honor to be with everyone in this giant hall today. I am with you. I will never, ever let you down.
Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
END 1:17 P.M. EDT