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NRA president speaks at Franklin County (Pa.) Republican Committee dinner

David Keene accused President Obama's administration of turning the Newtown, Conn., school shooting that killed 26 into an opportunity

April 03, 2013|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com
  • The GOP hosted National Rifle Association President David Keene for its annual Lincoln Day Dinner Wednesday at Green Grove Gardens outside Greencastle, Pa.
Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

GREENCASTLE, Pa. — You can meet and talk with people who don’t share your beliefs, but never surrender your principles, the keynote speaker at Wednesday’s Franklin County (Pa.) Republican Committee dinner advised.

The GOP hosted National Rifle Association President David Keene for its annual Lincoln Day Dinner at Green Grove Gardens outside Greencastle.

Pennsylvania has more NRA members than any other state, Keene said.

“I thought this was a dinner for the Republican Party, but it’s actually a gathering of NRA members,” he said to laughter.

Greencastle resident June Finafrock is a registered independent voter, but she said she wanted to attend the dinner to remain active in politics. Finafrock said she was born in Washington, D.C., so she didn’t always have the right to vote.

Her son-in-law, Alan Kline of Chambersburg, Pa., was looking forward to hearing Keene speak.

“I’d like to hear the blueprint for the preservation of our Second Amendment rights,” he said.

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Keene told the crowd to tell their elected officials what is important to them.

“Because so many Americans out there share our values and concerns, they’re willing to step up,” he said of NRA membership approaching 5 million people.

Stephen Fedoriw of Quincy, Pa., exercised an option to join the NRA through his ticket price for the dinner.

“I’m a strong supporter of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution,” Fedoriw said. “The NRA is here as an advocate of the Second Amendment.”

Fedoriw was joined by his 14-year-old son, Daniel.

“I thought it’d be exciting to hear the people speaking,” Daniel said.

Past speakers at the Lincoln Day Dinner include presidential candidate Mitt Romney and GOP strategist Karl Rove.

“We thought with the timeliness of the Second Amendment issue with the Newtown massacre, we’d switch gears ... (and) we’d bring in someone like David Keene, president of the NRA. It gives people a chance to hear something on an issue that’s near and dear to them,” Republican Committee Chairman Dwight Weidman said.

The Lincoln Day Dinner also featured remarks from candidates for political office. About 325 people attended.

In his speech, Keene accused President Obama’s administration of turning the Newtown, Conn., school shooting that killed 26 into an opportunity. He said the president already wanted to infringe on gun owners’ rights.

“In Newtown, Conn., they thought they saw that opportunity ... to change the debate ... (and) to put Second Amendment rights back on the table and begin taking guns ...” Keene said.

The NRA commissioned a task force that recommended this week that at least one armed guard be stationed on every campus in America. Keene suggested that move could deter mentally ill individuals seeking to kill.

“The people engaging in this are not looking for a battle. They’re looking for a killing field,” he said.

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