By Joe Saunders
President Ronald Reagan spoke the words almost 35 years ago, but they could have been part of an argument yesterday.
Because with the gun control movement galvanized by the Valentine’s Day massacre in Parkland, Florida, gun grabbers are trying to use the blood of innocent victims to open another front in their war on constitutional liberty.
But in a speech to the National Rifle Association in May of 1983, Reagan laid out the basic reality that every Second Amendment supporter understands.
“It’s a nasty truth, but those who seek to inflict harm are not fazed by gun control laws,” Reagan said.
Reagan knew what he was talking about – having felt the “nasty truth” personally when a madman trying to impress a movie star put a bullet in the president during an assassination attempt in March of 1981.
But he knew is more than just personally. As a former governor of California who signed laws that stiffened penalties for using a firearm to commit a crime, he knew it as a lawmaker who understood the Constitution as the framers wrote it.
And he knew the NRA understood that, too.
“You know, I’ve always felt a special bond with the members of your group,” he said in that speech in Phoenix, according to a transcript from the American Presidency Project.
“You live by Lincoln’s words, ‘Important principles may and must be inflexible.’ Your philosophy put its trust in people. So, you insist on individuals being held responsible for their actions. The NRA believes that America’s laws were made to be obeyed and that our constitutional liberties are just as important today as 200 years ago.”
Then he got to the heart of the matter:
“And by the way, the Constitution does not say that government shall decree the right to keep and bear arms. The Constitution says ‘… the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’”
Check out the video here:
And that’s exactly the argument the gun grabbers are trying desperately to avoid amid the ginned-up, media-fomented outrage over supposedly lax gun control laws in the wake of the Parkland massacre.
At its core, the gun control movement simply does not accept the fact that the Constitution guarantees the natural rights of American citizens to own firearms.
The American Civil Liberties Union makes the leftist position crystal clear:
”Except for lawful police and military purposes, the possession of weapons by individuals is not constitutionally protected. Therefore, there is no constitutional impediment to the regulation of firearms.”
In other words, for liberals, American gun owners are like teenagers constantly being reminded by vigilant parents that “driving is a privilege, not a right.”
Gun ownership, in this warped view, is not a fundamental right of self-defense against crime, or a right of preparation to defend the country against tyranny, as the Founders intended. It’s a hobby, for rural hicks who enjoy hunting, for instance – and it exists solely at the sufferance of those who rule.
After an atrocity like the Parkland massacre, the Democrats who want to rule the country are making it clear that their patience with what they consider the wayward children of the gun-rights movement is running out.
And the Democrats’ willing acolytes in the mainstream media are doing everything they can to manufacture the belief that the majority of the American public are behind moves to curtail a fundamental American liberty.
Ronald Reagan knew better — and the NRA does, too. Reagan was not the gun-rights absolutist many Second Amendment activists would prefer, or that gun grabbers would caricature. As Bearing Arms pointed out, he supported some gun control measures during his governor days amid 1960s social convulsions and the rise of the Black Panther movement.
But he knew that Americans have and support the individual right to bear arms. Remember, Reagan was also the president who, surrounded by the finest, deadliest security staff in the world, carried his own gun while in office, according to Brad Meltzer.
“It’s a nasty truth, but those who seek to inflict harm are not fazed by gun control laws,” Reagan said, in that speech to the NRA in Phoenix.
That speech was from almost 35 years ago.
But it could have been from an argument yesterday.
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