Kristi Noem Defends Gun Rights and Slams 'Woke Mob' at NRA Texas Event

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem defended gun rights during a speech at a National Rifle Association (NRA) event in Houston, Texas on Friday and strongly criticized what she called the "woke mob."

Noem, a Republican, made the remarks at the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) Leadership Forum just days after a mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas that left 19 children and two teachers dead.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott had been scheduled to speak just before Noem but decided not to attend the event personally and instead made a second visit to Uvalde on Friday.

In a speech lasting around 20 minutes, Noem strongly defended the Second Amendment and spoke about the history of gun rights in the U.S. She also appeared to criticize the French Revolution and compared the tearing down of statues in modern America to the "radical mob mentality" of 1790s Paris.

"The first 10 amendments—the Bill of Rights—were ratified effective December 15, 1791. But what else was happening in the world at that time? The French Revolution," Noem said.

The governor noted that the Declaration of the Rights of Man—the foundational document of the French Revolution—"does not include the right to bear arms."

"In Paris, which was the center of European learning and culture for a thousand years, mobs tore down statues and crosses," Noem went on. "Does that sound familiar?"

"They attacked religion, they desecrated churches, the mob consumed French society until a dictator could arise from all the chaos," she said.

Noem was referring to the events that began in 1789 and were partly inspired by the American Revolution. The French King Louis XVI was overthrown and later executed, while Napoleon Bonaparte eventually rose to power and declared himself emperor. The violence that took place during the revolution was criticized at the time and in the centuries since.

After a brief discussion of what the Founding Fathers might have been thinking at the time of the French Revolution, Noem turned to gun crime.

"When gang members kill innocent children in Baltimore or Cleveland, they might give it a passing mention on the local news, but when a deranged mentally unstable murderer who fits the left's political narrative kills innocent children and people, the media seized the opportunity to paint millions of law-abiding gun owners, and you and me as barbarians—monsters," she said.

Noem criticized Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and others for pushing for stricter gun laws and praised an increase in gun ownership before returning to 18th century history.

"We have seen the same type of radical mob mentality taking place on the streets of American cities that swept Paris in the 1790s," Noem said.

"Woke mobs are tearing down statues, and it doesn't matter who they are of. Our founding fathers, Catholic missionaries. They even wanted to come after Mt. Rushmore. Well not on my watch," she said.

Many statues of historical figures have been torn down or otherwise removed in recent years following the protests over the death of George Floyd in 2020, particularly those associated with the Confederacy and slavery. Many conservatives have criticized the effort to remove such statues.

The governor went on to discuss her own record, including a bill she signed allowing the carrying of firearms without a permit and changes to South Dakota's "stand your ground" law.

Kristi Noem Speaks at an NRA Event
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks during the National Rifle Association (NRA) annual convention at the George R. Brown Convention Center on May 27, 2022 in Houston, Texas. Noem criticized what she called the "woke mob." Brandon Bell/Getty Images