Liberty, Endowed by Our Creator and Assured by the Second Amendment
"The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end." —Donald Trump
“The ultimate authority … resides in the people alone. … [T]he advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation … forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any…” —James Madison (1788)
I don’t often escape our publishing deadlines, but I managed to slip out of town last Wednesday for five days to meet up with 100,000 of my best friends — friends of Liberty. It was my annual trek to the Leadership Conference of the National Rifle Association, this year held in Atlanta.
As has been the case with every city hosting the NRA’s annual meeting, the concentration of guns on the streets of Atlanta last weekend went up 100-fold — and crime went down accordingly. If you read no further, read this: In the inimitable words of economist and former Yale researcher John Lott, “More Guns, Less Crime.”
Atlanta had no so-called gun-free zones last weekend. The town was teeming with firearms, including CNN Center, where some of the NRA events were held. (Memo to Ted Turner: It’s always great to carry concealed at CNN!) As National Review editor Jim Geraghty noted prior to the convention, despite the howls from “gun control” cupcakes, “Not only has there never been a shooting at an NRA Annual Meeting, crime in the city usually goes down during that weekend. (If you were a mugger, would you try robbing NRA convention attendees?)”
Indeed, street thugs might be dumb, but they aren’t stupid!
Of course, most of my colleagues understand that “gun control” actually means a tight pattern at 1,000 meters!
Notably, while we were convening, The Washington Times cited a study finding that the majority of homicides nationwide occur in only 5% of the nation’s counties, those urban poverty plantations where millions of impoverished Americans live under the thumb of their Democrat Party masters. It’s also notable that most of those urban centers have the most restrictive gun regulations in the nation — if only those pesky criminals would obey the law.
Patriots, here’s what the gun-confiscating Democrats and their Leftmedia dezinformatsiya propagandists don’t want you to know: If you’re not involved with drugs or gangs, the probability that you’ll be the victim of violent crime drops to the same levels as those in Western European nations with the most restrictive gun regulations in the world.
So why are the statists constantly endeavoring to infringe on “the right of the people to keep and bear arms”? Because the first and last defense “necessary to the security of a free state” is that which is affirmed by our Constitution’s Second Amendment. And because your right to keep and bear arms encompasses your right to defend yourself against the tyranny of the state.
As I have often written, Justice Joseph Story, appointed to the Supreme Court by our Constitution’s author, James Madison, wrote in his “Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States” (1833), “The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of the republic; since it offers a strong moral check against usurpation and arbitrary power of the rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”
Which brings me back to the NRA and its noble mission.
While the NRA was founded in 1871 to promote marksmanship, its mission has shifted in recent decades as the right of the people to keep and bear arms has come under relentless assault by statist leftists, particularly those in the judicial branch. As summarized from its bylaws today, “The purposes and objectives of the National Rifle Association of America are: 1. To protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially with reference to the inalienable right of the individual American citizen guaranteed by such Constitution to acquire, possess, collect, exhibit, transport, carry, transfer ownership of, and enjoy the right to use arms, in order that the people may always be in a position to exercise their legitimate individual rights of self-preservation and defense of family, person, and property, as well as to serve effectively in the appropriate militia for the common defense of the Republic and the individual liberty of its citizens…”
That mission is inspired by the timeless wisdom of our “Founders on Firearms and Freedom,” undergirded by the unalienable rights of all people to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” and best assured by the palladium of all rights outlined in the Second Amendment of our Constitution. Today, the NRA and its five million members are devoted, first and foremost, to that core mission.
It would be difficult to settle on a single highlight of the five days I spent in Atlanta.
One was stepping onto an elevator and running into my friend, Medal of Honor recipient Sammy Lee Davis, and his lovely wife Dixie. Another was being joined in the festivities by my daughter, who graduates from college next week (and has a job!). Yet another would be reconnecting with my East Tennessee friend Gary Harrell, who’s now retired as commanding general of Delta Force. Gary is probably best known as commander of our forces in Mogadishu in 1993 during the bloody “Black Hawk Down” battle, in which our warriors were hamstrung by restrictive rules of engagement under former President Bill Clinton.
There were other friends — Ronnie Barrett, founder of Barrett Firearms Manufacturing and maker of one of the best long-shooter military rifles in history, the M107 .50 BMG, the military version of the M82A1. (As it happens, the M107 has been my personal favorite since I first experienced its recoil “nudge” 10 years ago.) It is always a treat to be with Ronnie, and especially his chief administrator (wife), Donna.
I rarely miss an opportunity to talk to strangers, anywhere and everywhere. Outside the NRA venues, while in constant transit around town, whether on the MARTA underground train platform with a group of young law students, or visiting with street vendors, or stuck in traffic with Uber drivers, I didn’t run into anyone who had a negative view of the NRA or our constitutional right to keep and bear arms. Frankly, I think there were a lot of people in Atlanta last weekend who felt much safer than they usually do.
Most of the NRA members would likely say the highlight of their week was the address by President Donald Trump, the first sitting commander in chief to keynote an NRA event since Ronald Reagan in 1983. Of course, President Reagan’s remarks resonate as if they were spoken just yesterday.
Ahead of President Trump’s remarks, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre set the tone: “It’s up to us to speak up against the three most dangerous voices in America: academic elites, political elites, and media elites. These are America’s greatest domestic threats.”
For his part, Donald Trump was on target with every word, and his remarks could be summed up in a single line: “The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end.” (Watch his speech.)
Fact is, the NRA was instrumental in the election of Donald Trump, and it endorsed his candidacy early in the campaign. Despite my own concerns about Trump at the time of that endorsement last May, as I’ve written repeatedly, Trump’s appointments are as conservative as those of President Reagan in his first administration, and despite all the 100-day hand-wringers, Donald Trump has accomplished more than a few things. Most notably, he delivered on his biggest commitment when he selected Neil Gorsuch to fill the pivotal Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Antonin Scalia.
My tour in Atlanta ended with yet another Tennessee friend, Joe Gregory, who has devoted much of his adult life to the preservation of Liberty and extending that blessing to the next generation.
Joe is a charter member and chairman of the NRA’s Golden Ring of Freedom, and in that capacity, he hosts a great event — inviting young Patriots on the convention floor to ring a large reproduction Liberty Bell. He notes, “I do this because I believe what Ronald Reagan said about Freedom: ‘Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same…’”
The historic Liberty Bell rang above the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall) after the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence on July 8th, 1776.
Joe notes that the inscription on the Liberty Bell is, “Proclaim LIBERTY Throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants Thereof” (Leviticus 25:10), and in keeping with the spirit of that passage, he asks each of the young people to introduce themselves and shout out, “Let Freedom Ring!” The bell can be heard throughout the convention halls.
Joe also hosted an outstanding prayer breakfast Sunday morning, featuring a keynote from Allen West, who also delivered an address the previous day.
Allen’s focus was, “Make Ready Men and Women of Christ,” basing his remarks on Jeremiah 1:17: “Therefore prepare yourself and arise…” Allen, who is from Atlanta (though gets credit for being a University of Tennessee graduate), told me, “There is a fitting parallel between the minutemen of Lexington and Concord making ready the path for our Liberty on earth, and Jesus Christ, who made ready the path for our eternal spiritual Liberty.”
The bottom line: When debating the Second Amendment, there are three points that are often neglected.
First, possession of firearms is a deterrent against countless millions of crimes, as made clear in studies of convicted felons, who tell researchers that they choose victims who are least likely to be able to defend themselves. Second, there are more than a million crimes thwarted every year by those who defend themselves with a firearm.
And finally, the Second Amendment is, first and foremost, about protection of our Constitution and the Liberty it enshrines. As I have oft noted, handguns are for personal and home defense. But semi-automatic rifles, mislabeled by Socialist Democrats and their Leftmedia propagandists as “assault rifles,” are for protection of those who would infringe on the “right of the people to keep and bear arms.” If you find that notion unsettling, then you need to learn more about the history the constant assault of statist tyranny on Liberty.
Again, “The ultimate authority … resides in the people alone. [T]he advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation … forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any…” –James Madison (1788)
And a final note: As it does our soul good to be in faith fellowship with others, it is likewise, good for us to be in Patriot fellowship with others. I encourage both forms of fellowship with Patriots whenever possible!
Footnote: You can view all the speakers and proceedings here or on the NRA YouTube Channel. You can also view NRA advertising clips here. Finally, in advance of the Trump administration’s push for national right-to-carry reciprocity, the NRA announced a new insurance program for gun owners. You can find out more about that here.
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776