OK, I’m not afraid to say it: At 72, Tom Selleck still has the elusive “it”—that characteristic that can set hundreds of women’s hearts to throbbing from across the room. So it makes perfect sense that he was one of the featured guests at the Women’s Leadership Forum (WLF) during this year’s NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Atlanta. The WLF's mission is to unite women of influence to defend our Second Amendment freedoms, and to help guarantee the future of the NRA through philanthropic leadership.
And in the vein of the family dinner scenes that are so integral a part of “Blue Bloods,” his current TV series, Susan Howard—you probably remember her as a regular on “Dallas,” but she also serves on the NRA Board of Directors—and others affiliated with the WLF had a “come and sit a spell in my living room” chat with him, peppering him with questions about his work so he could regale the almost 1,000 luncheon attendees with behind-the-scenes anecdotes of his life in television.
Selleck, who has been an NRA member since he was eight years old, shared the WLF guest billing with President Donald Trump’s Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway, who earlier had provided insight into what it’s like to work on a national campaign and in the White House.
One of the big challenges for the Trump administration, she said, is that there is a “presumptive negativity” associated with this presidency. Despite the fact that his opponents have erected road blocks at every opportunity in an attempt to derail Trump, Conway said that millions of everyday Americans stand behind him. NRA members no doubt make up a good-sized bloc of that support, because the NRA was one of the few national groups that, once its endorsement of Trump was announced in May 2016, never wavered in its backing. The media bashing and general criticism aside, Conway said the goal—“and it’s all about making government less intrusive and less expansive”— is worth the fight.
Conway also reassured the WLF attendees that the Trump administration has not lost sight of what helped it get where it is. “We’re trying to focus on ‘real people impact,’” Conway said, doing things that will make life better for citizens. She ticked off how that was going to happen. By appointing Jeff Sessions, the United States can return to a state where the rule of law is carried out. With the confirmation of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke—who on his first day at the helm reversed the ban on lead ammunition at national lands—shooters will have fewer restrictions on the hunting they enjoy. And Justice Neil Gorsuch will re-establish respect for the Constitution.
Selleck’s opening comments touched on why the NRA and its mission are so vital. “We are living in troubled times, times of partisanship and a toxic political environment,” he said, and this country needs activists who stand behind the values we hold dear.
Selleck, of course, has portrayed several well-loved characters—Police Commissioner Frank Reagan on “Blue Bloods,” Jesse Stone on a few made-for-TV movies and Thomas Magnum on “Magnum, P.I.”—which begged the question from Howard: How is he greeted or treated when he is recognized on the street? Not too surprisingly, he replied the Magnum character is one many people still link him to, but continued that when he’s spotted by police officers in New York, he is more likely to receive a salute because that’s how they greet their police commissioner.
It was inevitable that some questions related to firearms would arise, not just because of his TV history but also because he is a gun aficionado—after all, he donated six of his Smith & Wesson revolvers for auction at the event. At one point Howard asked why his character carries a Colt Fitz Special. Selleck’s character Reagan actually explains in one episode that he carries it because it was the sidearm his father, Henry Reagan, used. Given the family history of the gun in the show, Selleck told the audience that he hooked up with NRA Director Lance Olson to get a period holster to use as a prop in “Blue Bloods.”
Aside from the informal chats by the special guests after a luncheon at the Georgia Aquarium, WLF attendees participated in a live auction of about 15 items, a silent auction of hundreds of items and got to watch President Trump’s speech—which was given concurrently during the NRA Institute for Legislative Action Leadership Forum—via live-streaming.