President’s Column | Giving Thanks For The Gift Of Freedom

posted on November 21, 2023
Charles L. Cotton

As we gather for our holiday celebrations, I think it’s a good time to look back and give thanks for all the blessings that have been bestowed upon us. It can be easy amid all the holiday rush to lose sight of what really matters, but we all have been blessed. With family. With friends. With our freedom.

Some leftists try to blame America for every evil on Earth, but the truth is that, as Americans, we are uniquely blessed.

Our country is the first country defined by individual freedom, natural law and natural rights. Our Bill of Rights guarantees—in writing and with the force of law—several fundamental human rights, including your Second Amendment right to bears arms. Compare that with any other country, even the United Kingdom, whose unwritten common law has allowed for the ban and confiscation of all handguns, and where even the right to remain silent when accused of a crime in court—enshrined in our own Fifth Amendment—now carries a presumption of guilt.

We live in a country governed by the rule of law, not the rule of men. Compare that with countries around the world where dictators and nominal presidents “redefine” existing laws however they like to govern, without parliamentary authority, and weaponize the powers and agencies within their purview to oppress political opponents.

After life itself, freedom is possibly our greatest gift. It’s our duty to defend that freedom to preserve that gift of life.

Many of us are hunters, and here in the U.S., the wildlife we hunt belongs to all the people, not just to the king or some special set of the highborn and the elite. Compare that with the United Kingdom, where historically, game animals have been considered the property of landowners, and hunting laws have been used as a pretext to disarm the common people.

Many of the simple freedoms that many Americans take for granted are routinely denied to people elsewhere. So it’s no surprise that freedom-seeking people worldwide view the United States as a shining beacon of hope. As the old joke puts it, if you want to know where freedom thrives, compare the countries where the masses want to (and are often not allowed to) leave to the countries where people are waiting in line to get in.

I believe that, after life itself, freedom is possibly our Creator’s greatest gift. Accordingly, I believe it’s our duty to defend that freedom to preserve that gift of life. So, in this season of thanksgiving and gift-giving, I’m reminded of my own childhood. Many of us received our first firearm, air rifle or BB gun as a Christmas gift. Maybe that’s why the story of Ralphie and his Red Ryder BB gun—immortalized in the 1983 comedy movie “A Christmas Story”—brings back, for so many of us, our fondest holiday memories of growing up or raising youngsters of our own.

Anti-gun leftists never tire of lecturing us that giving a gun—even a toy gun—to a young person “promotes violence.” They’re also trying to deceive us into believing that gun accidents among children are supposedly skyrocketing.

“The death rate attributable to car accidents fell by almost half,” The New York Times claimed, “leaving firearm injuries the top cause of accidental death in children.” That’s a lie.

The truth is that The Times is mixing apples and oranges, comparing unintentional car accidents with intentional violent crimes. The truth is that gun accidents have been falling dramatically for more than a century. And the truth is that, if you compare apples to apples, accidental firearm fatalities among children under age 15 are outnumbered by drownings by 12-to-1 and motor vehicle deaths by 25-to-1, per CDC numbers. No wonder no one trusts the media to tell the truth anymore!

If you received your first gun as a gift in your youth, think back on how you felt that day. Receiving a gun as a gift is, in many respects, a rite of passage on the way to adulthood. It carries the implicit message that “I trust you to behave responsibly” in much the same way as getting the keys to the family car on Friday night. So you’d never think of violating that trust. If anything, being trusted made you want to live up to that trust.

So, as you give thanks for all our blessings this season, I hope you’ll consider the source of those blessings and the events in your life that gave rise to your most cherished beliefs. And from the NRA family to yours, I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


Joseph P. DeBergalis Jr.
Joseph P. DeBergalis Jr.

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