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Associated Press
Gov. Mike Pence waves to the crowd after addressing the leadership forum Friday at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Indianapolis.

Pence extols Indiana at NRA’s convention

– Gov. Mike Pence focused on promoting Indiana – with only a few nods to gun rights – while addressing the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting Friday.

“Firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens don’t threaten our families. They protect our families,” he said.

About 80,000 backers of gun rights descended upon Indianapolis for the NRA’s national convention. One of Friday’s highlights was a leadership forum featuring a cadre of conservative politicians.

Pence extolled Indiana’s educational choices, balanced budget, tax cuts and low unemployment while also acknowledging the 100,000 Hoosiers who are NRA members.

And he was proud to say that Indiana’s state parks were among the first in the country to allow concealed carry of handguns.

“We don’t just talk about freedom. We live it. We breathe it,” Pence told the crowd of about 1,000.

Pence – a possible 2016 presidential candidate – then spent several minutes talking about how Washington, D.C., is broken, reminding those gathered that the states created the federal government – not the other way around.

“We must demand the next generation of leaders to reduce the size and scope of the federal government,” he said.

He urged NRA members to “stay in the fight” and hold the banner of freedom high because “freedom always wins.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., gave a spirited speech that earned a standing ovation.

He said far too many voices in politics today view the Second Amendment as a relic of the past instead of “a fundamental right that every American deserves to have.”

Rubio said President Barack Obama thinks he can make firearm policy by executive order.

“Take comfort because in just 32 months, we will have a new president,” he said.

Rubio said the Second Amendment isn’t just words on a piece of paper.

“It’s a way of life, and sometimes responsibly exercising one’s Second Amendment right can be the difference between life and death,” he said.

Indiana Republican Sen. Dan Coats also addressed the crowd.

“I will continue to fight to protect our Second Amendment rights,” he said, adding that Indiana honors and respects the Constitution as intended and as written by the Founding Fathers.

Other speakers included Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri; Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La.; and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky.