National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre has a new rallying cry to spotlight the importance of every American’s right to keep and bear arms: “Remember New Orleans.”
In a speech earlier this week to the New York chapter of the Sportsmen’s Association for Firearms Education, LaPierre painted a compelling picture of New Orleans residents left defenseless by Hurricane Katrina – as one-third of the city’s police force deserted their posts and abandoned the streets to roving bands of looters and thugs.
Here is a partial transcript of LaPierre’s rousing address:
“Picture your beloved hometown, the neighborhood where you live. Hold that image in your head. Now imagine that a massive natural disaster has transformed your beloved neighborhood into a putrid soup of splinters, muck and corpses. A massive natural disaster has pounded and ground your town into an ugly gravy of dead, toxic garbage …
“There’s no power to run a single thing that makes a sound. There’s no water to bring in hydration or carry away waste. All life is stagnant around you – and dying.
You can’t call anyone. No one can call you. Phone lines and cell towers are down. 911 is gone. Police, fire, ambulance – the safety net of normal life – is completely gone. Think about what that would feel like. There’s no one but you.
The shadows of armed looters and thugs begin combing the streets with hard eyes and hungry looks. They take what they want. They rape who they want. They kill at will.
Every exit is impassable, so leaving is impossible. But staying is unimaginable. Life has been reduced to merely breathing, devoid of the barest essentials. Your throat throbs for water. Your gut aches for food. And both hungers are eclipsed by the inevitable fight for survival against those who would take your home, your wife and your life.
It’s a hellish nightmare of hopelessness, helpless terror – bigger than your brain can almost imagine … .
You hear nothing but the buzz of mosquitoes, occasional shouts for help – and gunshots and looting in the dark.
But you have a firearm.
At dawn, a few neighbors emerge from their houses. Some of them also have guns. And you get together with them and you agree to take a stand – just as good people have done since civilization was formed.
Until civilization returns, you band together to protect those who can’t protect themselves. You realize suddenly that you’re part of the militia in the truest historic sense of the word.
You’ve got a lot of single mothers with kids on your street … . Everyone’s doors and windows are wide open – they’ve been destroyed.
So you tell the single mothers: ‘If you have any trouble, just scream. We’ll hear you. We’ll be there.’
You spray-paint sheets of plywood with big red letters – ‘We are home. We have guns. We will shoot.’
And you know, because even the New York Times carried a picture of it – that’s exactly what they did in neighborhood after neighborhood all over the Gulf states. Not in some foreign country – here in the U.S.A. Roving gangs see your sign, they see your guns and what do they do? They stay away.
Those guns and nothing else during that time gave the hopeless hope … In the midst of all that misery you’re struck at that moment by the beauty and the salvation of second amendment freedom in the United States of America …
The armed authorities finally arrive. They blame a broken levee for your predicament. But then, something you couldn’t imagine happening, happens. They destroy the one thing that was standing there between you and anarchy – the second amendment.
They start confiscating firearms from the law abiding. Swat-style teams start swarming block-by-block as if on a war footing. They’re tense, they’re jumpy and they’re trained for urban warfare …
Keep in mind, these military folks, these police folks – they were on our side. They didn’t want to carry out this order that was given by the police chief of New Orleans … In fact, they were outraged over what they’d been ordered to do.
A reporter asked one of them – ‘You mean [you might have to] shoot an American?’ And the soldier said ‘yes.’
But the Americans he was talking about shooting, they weren’t criminals. They were brave people who were simply left behind when the hurricane hit in one of the most corrupt cities in the United States of America.
New Orleans was the first city in American history to disarm peaceable American citizens door-to-door at gunpoint. And I’ll tell you this as we sit here today – it must be the last … .
With your help, the National Rifle Association is going to make sure it never happens again. We’re going to go state-by-state and change every state law that has some type of emergency powers statute that allows authorities to regulate or confiscate guns from law-abiding citizens when an emergency is declared …
The example of New Orleans is going to become the worst fear of those who want to ban guns in the good old U.S.A. Never again can the anti-gunners claim that honest citizens don’t need firearms because the police and the government are going to be there to protect you …
And we’ve got a good slogan that you’re going to hear from one end of the country to the other. And that slogan is: Remember New Orleans …
The next time anyone says to you: ‘Are you just afraid or paranoid?’ Look them straight in the eye and say: Remember New Orleans.
If they ask you, ‘Why does anyone need to own a gun?’ Remember New Orleans.
If they say to you, “Why does anyone need a high-capacity magazine?” Look them straight in the eye and say: Remember New Orleans.
What’s wrong with a 15-day waiting period? Remember New Orleans.
What makes you think the government would ever confiscate your gun? Remember New Orleans.
Is the second amendment relevant in the 21st Century? Remember New Orleans.
That’s our battle cry and let’s never, ever let them forget it.”