On Rights

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President Trump speaking at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum on May 4, 2018. Author’s own work.

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the 2018 NRA Annual Meeting in Dallas. Dad and I trekked to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center with tens of thousands of NRA members from around the U.S. and marveled at 15 acres’ worth of exhibitors. There were more guns than you could shake a stick at, and certainly many we couldn’t afford, but it’s cool to feel like a kid in a toy store again.

As if that weren’t good enough, we also had the great prvilege to hear President Trump, Vice President Pence, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox, and Sutherland Springs hero Stephen Willeford speak to the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum. All five gave fantastic, impassioned speeches about gun rights and the importance of the 2nd Amendment. It’s hard to rank one speech or speaker above another, because each was unique and addressed different aspects of freedom and the right to keep and bear arms. However, I walked out of the arena with a new and better understanding of just how important the 2nd Amendment is, and why we must protect it.

I will paraphrase the slogan I saw on an NRA shirt: the right to keep and bear arms is not the need to keep and bear arms. You don’t have to own a gun if you don’t want to, but you have the right. You don’t have to own an AR-15 if you dont want to, but you have the right. If you choose not to exercise that right, that’s fine. However, that does not mean that you can dictate how other people exercise their right, or whether they can at all.

That’s what the hysterical left is trying to do. They march, shout, and call law-abiding gun owners nasty names as they try to appear morally superior. They have weaponized the 1st Amendment against the 2nd, and seek to squelch gun rights activists’ own use of the 1st Amendment by dubbing what they say “hate speech” or something similarly stupid.

People need to realize that the mainstream media blames the NRA and its members whenever an incident of gun violence occurs. The perpetrators of these heinous acts are not NRA members, so why do the talking heads lash out at the NRA?

Here’s one reason why: the mainstream media is trying to dictate what is morally right and proper to Americans. Most news networks blast the same drivel about gun control and mass shootings day in and day out. They fixate on protests and walk-outs led by high schoolers. The media and the people whose opinions are provided by the media hate the NRA because they know that the NRA is right, that the NRA has the facts straight. They can’t use logic, so they use bully tactics such as name-calling and flat-out lying. (That could be said about the radical left on many other things.)

Realize this: the NRA doesn’t just stand for our 2nd Amendment rights as Americans. They stand for our other Constitutional rights and also what we might call “traditional American values” such as a strong family, respect for the flag, and loyalty to the country. They want to protect our gun rights while also addressing the nation’s mental health, which seems to be spiraling further down the tubes daily.

Chris Cox impressed me with his speech. He pointed out that, thirty, forty, fifty years ago, kids brought guns to school. They had rifle racks in their pickup trucks. No one got shot. Back then, it was a different world.

What changed? The respect for and dignity of human life.

He listed off several factors that undeniably point to this. There’s pornography, which degrades both men and women to objects, turning sex into an act rather than a sacred union. There are violent video games that encourage killing fellow human beings for no reason, or for the wrong reasons. There are movies and TV shows with live actors that portray graphic, realistic violence. There is a plethora of music, from rap to metal, that glorifies rebellion, killing police, raping women, and more.

The problem, Chris stated, is not that American adults can’t handle this stuff. The problem is that American children can’t.

Who do kids look up to? Inner-city kids might glorify the rapper who sings about gang violence, “conquering” women, and smoking weed. Kids who find solace in video games, movies, and television might respect characters who kill the most, whether they are good guys or bad guys. Additionally, there are the myriad of celebrities and public figures who say all manner of bass-ackwards things, all of which are funneled into these kids’ brains thanks to smartphones and social media. What is impressing our kids at these impressionable ages? How are they turning out?

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t believe all of these things need to be banned or censored. However, we as a nation need to be discerning about what we let influence our children. Tell me what’s okay about letting adolescent boys listen to music that praises violence against police and portrays women as sex objects. Tell me what’s okay about that music, period.

These things, more than anything, lead to mental health crises and explain a lot of why our society is the way it is. Parents who pick babysitters in mass media pick poorly, if they pick at all. Read about some of the perpetrators of recent shootings and you’ll start to see these trends.

Banning firearms, whether a sweeping or selective ban, is not the answer. Ask Chicago how their tight gun laws are working out. Ask London how their murder rate is after banning guns. Last I heard, there are at least 200 million firearms owned in America (probably more now), and who knows how many rounds of ammunition. If guns were the problem, we’d be having a whole lot more shootings than there really are.

Actually, there are a lot of shootings that we don’t hear about because a good guy with a gun stopped a bad guy with a gun. That’s what the 2nd Amendment is all about, but that’s not what the mainstream media wants to report, so those stories are swept under the rug.

In his speech, President Trump cited an example from my home town, just over a year to date. When a man walked into a sports bar and shot an employee, another patron with a license to carry a concealed handgun shot the attacker, fearing that there would be greater loss of life. You can downplay this all you want, if you want, but you can’t say for certain that no one else would have died that day, or in any similar circumstance.

To placate (or provoke) the mainstream media and gun-control advocates, President Trump proposed that we go ahead and ban all trucks, and even cars. After all, they kill people, too. In 2016, eighty-six were killed and 458 wounded in Nice, France by terrorists driving a truck through a crowd. Last year in New York City, a terrorist in a rented truck plowed into bystanders on the street and killed eight, wounding eleven. Ten were killed and fourteen injured just a few weeks ago in Toronto, Canada when a maniac did the same thing.

The problem is not with guns, but with evil. It takes good guys and gals with guns to stand up to bad guys with guns, trucks, and whatever else they decide to employ in order to carry out their evil intentions.

I could rant on, but it’s time to wrap this up. Whether you own a firearm or not, are a shooting enthusiast or not, are a hunter or not, if you support the 2nd Amendment, there has never been a better time, a more critical time, to show your support. I’m not being paid by anyone to write this, but join the NRA if you feel so inclined. Their membership is approaching 6 million people, the highest it’s ever been. And, while you’re at it, consider buying a firearm, be it for range shooting, hunting, or home defense (or all three). After all, it’s your right.

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Vice President Pence speaking at the NRA-ILA Leadership forum on May 4, 2018. Author’s own work.

Finally, as Vice President Pence encouraged, bow the head and bend the knee in prayer. At this point in history, our nation is divided and desperately needs healing. There is a lot of evil out there. God knows this and listens to His people’s prayers, and we Christians are His people.

May God bless America, may our hearts turn back to Him, and may we Christian men and women stand up against the forces of evil in all shapes and forms, bearing arms if necessary. As Stephen Willeford, the hero of the Sutherland Springs massacre, encouraged, let us fight the wolves as the sheepdogs of the Good Shepherd.

And to those on the left who would take Americans’ firearms if they had their way, this Texan has four words to say:

come_and_take_it

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