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2nd Amendment: Our right 'shall not be infringed'
My views and understanding of the Second Amendment have changed. Let me tell you why.
Growing up in Hawaii, we had very restrictive laws surrounding firearms. We still do. A lot of my friends who grew up in the mainland learning about firearms safety and how to shoot from a young age had a very different experience than I did. Aside from a handful of visits to the shooting range (the only one on the island) with my dad as a teenager, my exposure to firearms was extremely limited. Once I enlisted in the army because of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, it was in basic training at Ft. Jackson, SC where I would fire a rifle for the first time. We learned the basics — safety protocols, muzzle discipline and basic ‘shoot, move, communicate’ drills. But it was by no means extensive. (For those of you who serve in the military, you know how limited ‘range time’ is, especially for Guard and Reserves).
Given this background, when I went to Congress, ‘common sense’ gun laws, seemed to be just that — common sense. Nothing too extreme. When my Republican colleagues expressed concerns and opposition to adding more restrictions being touted as “common sense” to the Second Amendment, I was fairly dismissive. I didn’t understand what they were so afraid of. They argued these restrictions would inevitably lead to confiscation, and that as the power of government expanded, it was even more essential that we protect our Second Amendment. Mention of a ‘tyrannical government’ seemed so off-base to me, I didn’t give it much thought. I brushed off their objections and supported seemingly rational ideas like limited capacity magazines and banning assault rifles.
When I ran for President, I campaigned across the country and had the privilege of spending time with and hearing from fellow Americans in places like Iowa, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Georgia, and more. In many of these places, gun ownership was ingrained in the culture, a part of life growing up. Etched into my memory is a town hall event we held in New Hampshire, where a few seats away from each other sat an avid defender of the Second Amendment and a mother who was genuinely frightened over recent school shootings and worrying that one day it might her child killed in a tragic mass shooting. Emotions ran high as I heard from both of them, and a healthy tension filled the room as these two Americans of good faith with different views openly shared their concerns. I didn’t talk much. I listened carefully. We all did.
Ultimately, these two individuals walked out of that event in agreement – both acknowledging the importance of protecting our Second Amendment, while recognizing that we must do more to keep our children safe. It was not an either/or proposition. Two ordinary citizens without any hidden agendas were able to understand one another and reconcile their differences in the span of an hour — which really put into focus just how dishonest the conversations taking place in Washington had become. This issue had become a political football used for cheap talking points and fundraising.
One of the most common arguments used to undermine gun rights will usually sound like: “Our founders only had muskets; they never imagined the high powered firearms available to citizens today.” In fact, immediately following the Supreme Court’s ruling on the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, New York’s Democrat Governor Kathy Hochul immediately excoriated the decision at a press conference where she recited this tired talking point. However, it was what she said immediately prior to this that unmasks how many Democrats truly feel about the second amendment and our Constitution as a whole. Governor Hochul’s comments were as follows:
“And I’m sorry this dark day has come, that we’re supposed to go back to what was in place since 1788 when the Constitution of the United States was ratified. And I would like to point out to the Supreme Court Justices that the only weapons at the time were muskets. I’m prepared to go back to muskets.”
Let’s step back and dissect that for a moment. Governor Hochul considers it a dark day for her constituents in New York to reclaim the rights promised to them under our Constitution; ones that she and the Democrat controlled state legislature were infringing upon. These remarks were unprepared, as news of the ruling broke during an already scheduled press conference – and so thanks to this rare moment of unfiltered honesty, we now know her true feelings. Governor Hochul fundamentally disagrees with the original intent of the second amendment.
Despite what many Democrats would like you to believe, the original intent had absolutely nothing to do with hunting or hobby. Very simply, the second amendment exists for two reasons and two reasons only. First, every American has the inalienable God-given right to protect themselves and their loved ones from threats of violence. As crime continues to rise throughout the country and progressive DA’s refuse to take dangerous criminals off our streets, firearm sales, especially among first time owners have hit record highs. Even with the relentless attacks on our second amendment from Democrats and our national media, Americans innately understand that gun ownership, combined with proper training, offers an unmatched level of security.
Second, our founders had a profound understanding of human nature – and the ease with which power could corrupt. To safeguard the very freedoms they had fought so valiantly to obtain, they realized the American people would need to be well-armed; as this would be the single most effective deterrent against government tyranny. President Biden recently mocked this notion, claiming that Americans would need F-15 fighter jets to successfully fend off our government. The bone chilling casualness with which our President quips about deploying the military against American citizens aside, Biden is misreading the intent of the second amendment. It exists to serve as a check on the power of a tyrannical government. With more than 81 million gun owners in America, any path to dictatorship would be met with armed resistance and unimaginable bloodshed, and so, our government will be very reluctant to cross that line. That is the very definition of a deterrent. When you disarm the people, that deterrent no longer exists and it becomes much easier to succumb to the temptations of tyranny.
I used to think the warnings from conservatives, libertarians and gun enthusiasts about the ‘slippery slope’ were overblown.But I was wrong. As I look back over the past decade, I see that their warnings were justified. The Democratic party wasn’t against the second amendment when I joined — but they’ve since removed all mention of it from their national party platform. The Democratic Socialists of America, a faction which has become increasingly vocal through members like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cori Bush and Rashida Tlaib, published an essay in 2018 titled “The Second Amendment is a Threat to Us All.” Senator Elizabeth Warren is pushing for credit card companies to track and report all sales of firearms and ammunition, a backdoor effort to create a national gun registry, which would be unconstitutional and has so far failed to pass in Congress. President Biden relentlessly pushes for gun confiscation and reinstating the assault weapons ban. Meanwhile, they are politicizing Federal agencies like the Department of Justice and Homeland Security, and using them to target law-abiding Americans who oppose the radical so-called woke agenda of this Administration. They are dangerously showing their authoritarian instincts through their rhetoric, policies, and actions — undermining our God-given freedoms enshrined in the Constitution at every turn.
The actions of today’s Democrat party and the Biden Administration are proving how visionary our founders were in ensuring the Second Amendment came after the First Amendment. We cannot fold under the pressure of tyranny. Our rights shall not be infringed.
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You can hear more on this in my latest episode of The Tulsi Gabbard Show with a very moving conversation with Rep Steve Scalise on YouTube or anywhere you find your podcasts: