CPAC 2018: Guns and Immigration
Last week, thousands of enthusiastic conservatives flew to Washington D.C. from across the world to experience the largest, most prominent conservative conference. CPAC, which stands for Conservative Political Action Conference, is an annual conference that attracts the highest-ranking leaders in the conservative movement. This year, renowned speakers like President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Senator Ted Cruz rallied and fired up the fervent audience.
Throughout the event, attendees had the opportunity to attend a variety of breakout sessions on all sorts of national topics, such as “Pot or Not?: A Debate on Marijuana Legalization” and “From Deployment to Employment: Reintegrating Veterans into Civilian Life.” However, the conversations revolved mainly around guns and immigration given the latest series of events.
Conservatives are Second Amendment zealots, emphasizing that the right to bear arms is an inalienable right that is embedded in our Constitution. National non-profit organizations like the National Rifle Association (NRA) and National Association for Gun Rights teach firearm safety, promote gun rights, and lobby in support for legislation that empowers the Second Amendment. However, after 17 high school kids were assassinated at a high school shooting in February 14, the debate on gun rights has once again risen to the main discussion in the political arena. In light of the recent school shooting, once again, people are asking, “What’s next?”
Despite President Trump reiterating his support for the Second Amendment during his speech at CPAC on Friday morning, he emphasized his support for robust background checks.
“There is nobody that loves the Second Amendment more than I do, and there is nobody that respects the NRA, the friends of mine, they backed us all, great people, patriots, but great people. But we really do have to strengthen up, really strengthen up background checks. We have to do that” President Trump said.
His proposals to introduce tighter gun restrictions and ending the sale of bump stocks were met with mixed responses—while some were sympathetic, others, such as the Gun Owners of America, vehemently opposed it and initiated petitions to denounce President Trump’s response. During his speech on Thursday morning, NRA’s Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre relentlessly attacked the rhetoric threatening to revoke firearms away from law-abiding citizens, claiming that politicians and the media are exploiting the tragedy to advance their political agenda.
While the discussion of gun control between speakers and attendees dominated the scene, another trending discussion echoed the voices inside the Gaylord Resort—immigration. Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, the niece of former French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, vigorously tackled Muslim immigration claiming, “France is in process of passing from the eldest daughterof the Catholic Church to the little niece of Islam, the terrorism is only the tip of the iceberg.” Le Pen backlashed not only Muslim immigration but the European Union, globalization, and political correctness, saying, “This is not the France our grandparents fought for.” Nigel Farage, the icon of the Brexit movement in the United Kingdom, sensationally energized the crowed with his speech before President Trump’s speech. Farage blatantly slammed “fake news”, the Russia collusion conspiracy, and immigration.
In addition, a panel that rapidly received negative reaction from the audience was dedicated solely to immigration. David Bier, an immigration policy analyst at the libertarian think tank Cato Institute, took the stage to discuss immigration with three other conservatives. Despite Bier’s research endeavoring to prove that immigrants are assimilating to the culture better than previous generations and contribute to the economy, he was met with hysteria by the crowd—shouts, boos, and insults. One woman vociferously yelled, “Sweetie, you’re too young to know” while another shouted “You’re a dreamer!” While the event was intended to be a rational discussion regarding immigration, it turned out to be the opposite—chaotic.
As the 2018 midterms loom in, immigration and guns will be on the foresight of American voters. Law-abiding gun owners and the lives of 11 million individuals will be facing uncertainty in what will be a challenge for the Republican Party this November, to remain in control of the House and the Senate.