Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) vowed Friday that he would work to expand the rights of gun owners if he was “given the opportunity to lead a new Senate majority next year.”

Speaking at the National Rifle Association convention in Indianapolis, McConnell said he would work on behalf of legislation providing new privacy protections to gun owners.

For McConnell, the appearance seemed designed to boost his conservative bona fides ahead of his upcoming reelection fight.His speech was full of red meat, accusing the Obama administration of being “determined to shut up their critics.”

“These guys have shown a clear willingness to use the power of government to shut down anyone who disagrees with them,” McConnell said.

He said the White House tried to “curb the rights they disagree with” and only believed in the parts of the Constitution “that are possible at Washington cocktail parties.”

“The Obama administration needs to be made to understand that the American people are serious about protecting their rights,” the Kentucky lawmaker said.