“Our Founding Fathers enshrined the Second Amendment for one purpose: survival. Survival of each citizen. Survival of a nation.” With those words as his theme, the longest-serving head of the National Rifle Association (NRA)–CEO Wayne LaPierre–trumpeted unity for all conservatives going into the 2012 presidential election.

The NRA held its 141st Annual Meeting in April in St. Louis. Over 70,000 members of the oldest and largest civil-rights organization in America gathered from across the nation. They heard speeches from presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Perry, as well as other political heavyweights, shopped through over 300,000 square feet of guns and gear, and heard speeches from the officers of the most-feared political juggernaut in America.