Bill Bachenberg, an NRA board member and a co-chair of an official Trump campaign group Sportsmen for Trump, laughed as audience members at a fundraiser event reacted to his speech with threats to shoot a Democratic politician.
The “Patriots for Trump” fundraiser event took place on October 9 and was held as part of the second annual Rod of Iron Freedom Festival. This festival is “a gathering of far-right ideologues and Second Amendment activists organized by the sons of the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the controversial Korean religious leader.”
The festival is connected to the Rod of Iron Ministries, a religious organization that emphasizes gun ownership, has some of its young members undertake “quasi paramilitary training,” and whose members sometimes hold AR-15-style assault weapons and wear crowns made of ammunition during worship. Rod of Iron Ministries founder Sean Moon preaches his belief that the current system of government in the United States will come to an end and he will be named king. The NRA Political Victory Fund, the gun group’s political action committee, paid $180 to rent a booth at the festival.
Bachenberg, who was most recently reelected to the NRA board in 2018, opened his remarks at the fundraising event for Trump by touting his personal meeting with the president and saying, “I bring pleasure and greetings from President Trump and the Sportsmen for Trump coalition.” (Brachenberg is a co-chair of the coalition.)
Bachenberg went on to criticize Joe Biden’s campaign platform on gun laws, taking particular issue with Biden having said he would put former member of Congress Beto O'Rourke in charge of gun issues and the fact that O’Rourke once said “hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15” in support of mandatory buybacks of assault weapons.
Bachenberg then began to say former NRA President Charlton Heston’s infamous “from my cold, dead hands” line, before stopping and saying, “You get the point, right.” An audience member yelled, “It will be unloaded when [O’Rourke] gets it,” leading Bachenberg to laugh. Another audience member pitched in that “the barrel’s going to be hot, though,” to which Bachenberg responded, “Yeah.” When another audience member made a reference to someone being turned into “swiss cheese,” Bachenberg finally said, “All right, let’s be civil here,” while continuing to laugh.
Bachenberg might have guessed what type reaction he would get. Moments earlier, he had told a story, with bizarre amusement, about when he was giving a speech at a 2016 Trump campaign rally and an audience member reacted to his “from my cold, dead hands” line by shouting “[fucking] bullet to her head.” He said a Secret Service agent turned around and smiled at him after the comment, causing some in the audience at the “Patriots for Trump” event to laugh.
During the “Patriots for Trump” event, the emcee claimed it had raised “up to, right now, $40,000” for the Trump campaign while asking for more donations.