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Embracing Freedom In The Face Of Attack

Embracing Freedom In The Face Of Attack

The news of an attempted assassination of conservative congressmen, senators and their allies by a deranged liberal extremist as they honed their baseball skills came as a shock to all of us. The evidence indicates it would have been a true tragedy had it not been for some motivated good guys with guns who happened to be on scene because a handful of congressional leaders are provided small security details. Had that one leader who was present forgotten to set his alarm clock or been summoned to a last-minute meeting on Capitol Hill, the funerals would likely still be proceeding.

As a long-time lobbyist for the NRA, I would often be asked by travelers seated next to me on a plane or fellow beer connoisseurs at a local pub why the NRA supports more Republicans than Democrats. The answer was easy. I would simply refer the curious person to the two very different official party platforms available on their respective websites.

One reflects trust in the individual citizen and an appreciation for the fact that America has been the freest land in the world for more than two centuries largely because of our cherished individual right to arms. The other unabashedly expresses distrust in the citizenry and would like nothing more than to see this right abruptly extinguished. In other words, as a rule, the Republicans support gun rights and the Democrats vigorously oppose them.

The math just isn’t that difficult, and most who asked would come back a little later with a quick, “Got it.” Thankfully, there are still a few remaining pro-freedom Democrats, mostly at the state level, whom the NRA can proudly support come election time. Because of pressures within their own party, this species of politician unfortunately has something in common with the black rhino—we could see its extinction in our lifetimes.

Because of pressures within their own party, this species of politician unfortunately has something in common with the black rhino—we could see its extinction in our lifetimes.While not surprising, it was refreshing and encouraging to see the Republicans sticking to what they know is right and logical even after experiencing the overwhelming emotion associated with being the target of a madman with a rifle. Media from around the country expected them to finally “see the light” and join the gun control movement that promises a perfectly tranquil country if only a few more laws are enacted against killing people.

Those Republicans under attack saw a light, but it was the one impressing upon them the importance of the right of individuals to be able to carry defensive firearms in public in order to effectively defend against armed attackers. None of them was armed at their time of need because their next stop after the baseball field was their office in Washington, D.C. They would have violated D.C.’s still-draconian gun laws by merely transporting a firearm there.

Instead of doing what their counterparts do and screaming for more gun control, they doubled down on their support for national reciprocity legislation that, when signed into law, will negate the District’s effective prohibition of armed self-defense in public, where most violent crime occurs. These Republicans understand that no law endorsed by the gun control zealots is going to take the tools of death from a man motivated enough to drive halfway across the country to kill. They know that the only thing within their control is what the good guys are empowered to do. They don’t want anyone to have to rely on blind luck again.

The gun control nuts predictably didn’t waste any time coming out of the woodwork. They remind me of the hysterical online video where some less-than-brilliant people are stuck on an escalator because it stopped moving mid-ride. They stand there looking around helplessly. Like these prisoners of the bum escalator, gun control advocates find self-help impossible. They turn to the government for everything, including the most fundamental of all personal responsibilities—the protection of themselves and their loved ones.

One nut who is always in the game is Shannon Watts, who runs Michael Bloomberg’s vast gun control operation. The New York Times asked Watts about the Republican plan to further empower citizens to carry their self-defense handguns regardless of where their travels (or love of baseball) may take them. She responded by saying, “If more guns and fewer laws was the best solution, we would be the safest country in the world.”

I’ve heard a lot of really dumb things uttered by these people through the years, but this may take the cake. It shows how incapable they are of rising above the emotion and thinking in rational, moderately sophisticated ways.

Well, countless gun control laws have been shredded by the NRA in victory after victory at the local, state and federal levels since those days in the early '90s.Could it be possible that America is just different from other countries? Are there any other variables that might be at play when it comes to violence here? It couldn’t have anything to do with the exploding inner-city gangs or anything like that. Is it just a coincidence that 54 percent of the nation’s counties experience no murders in any given year, while gun ownership rates there are sky high? No, that’s right. America is exactly like every other country throughout the world, but for all the guns. That’s the kind of stuff that makes a thinking person’s head spin.

I regularly wonder how Watts explains to her hapless followers that Americans own more guns than ever before (350-400 million) while the FBI reports that the violent crime rate is at a 44-year low and the murder rate is at an all-time low. Would she let me tell them that the violent crime rate has been cut nearly in half since 1991, while my fellow freedom-loving Americans added 150 million firearms to their self-sufficiency tool bag? She probably would, because she’s confident that they are incapable of being influenced by the facts.

Watts mentioned fewer gun laws evidently being a big danger, too. Well, countless gun control laws have been shredded by the NRA in victory after victory at the local, state and federal levels since those days in the early '90s. I would argue that today we are freer to buy, carry and use the firearms we own than we have been in many decades.

The federal “assault weapons” ban met its well-deserved demise in 2004. A couple dozen states eliminated their prohibition of concealed handgun carry by citizens, inspiring tens of millions to engage in daily carry. The federal waiting period on handgun purchases was mercifully ended in 1998. Oh, and due to amazing innovation in the firearms industry, we happen to have more of the really cool guns that the nuts love to hate available to purchase than ever before! Some might say that freedom has been doing a lot of winning in the last quarter century or so.

We law-abiding gun owners can be proud of the Republicans for standing firm on their principles at a very difficult time when those who don’t know the meaning of the word “principles” expected them to react much differently. The Times writers shake their heads in dismay while they continue to give the approving nod to their ideological mates like Shannon Watts, no matter how silly and baseless their quotations.

Darren LaSorte lobbied with NRA-ILA for 14 years and now lives and works in Dallas. His passions are shooting, hunting and self-defense training.

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