LINCOLN — Saying the National Rifle Association had been “vilified and unfairly attacked,” Gov. Pete Ricketts avowed his support for Second Amendment rights in a speech at the association’s annual meeting.

The governor spoke Friday at the NRA’s forum in Dallas to a crowd that earlier in the day heard from President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and others.

Second Amendment rights are fundamental to Americans, but those rights are under attack, Ricketts said to the crowd.

“How do we fight this tide of people who are trying to change our Constitution and take away our rights?” Ricketts said.

The governor said “the left is energized.”

Following the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people died, thousands of students in Nebraska and across the country have staged walkouts to protest what they see as lax gun laws.

But Ricketts also pointed to the more than 200 Kearney High School students who walked out of school this week to support their Second Amendment right to bear arms.

“When we see events, tragedies, like in Parkland, we all know that no parent should have to endure that, no child should be endangered at their school. Those are tragedies,” Ricketts said. “But the other side is using that to try to take away our rights by focusing on the wrong thing.”

Ricketts said taking away gun rights is not the answer. Instead, he suggested improving law enforcement and mental health care. He said one idea might be to allow off-duty police officers to carry guns onto school campuses.

The governor encouraged attendees to take their children shooting and hunting and teach them about the importance of the Second Amendment.

Then, Ricketts told the crowd, head to the polls and vote.


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