Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Talking Shop with Majority Leader Bill Frist

Thursday, April 17, 2003

NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox recently sat down with the new Senate Majority Leader to talk about freedom, firearms, and even a little football.

Cox: Senator, in 1994 you became the first practicing physician to be elected to the Senate since 1928, when Calvin Coolidge was in the White House. How do you compare your twin careers as physician and politician?

Sen. Frist: At first glance, it would seem that being a physician and a politician hold little in common. That`s what I used to think. My life`s work was to help patients live and have better lives through transplant surgery, one patient at a time. As time went by, and the problems in health care multiplied and became ever more complicated, I came to believe that perhaps I could help more people have better and healthier lives by working directly on health care policies that would affect millions at a time.

That`s when I realized that being a physician and a politician are not mutually exclusive. If your bottom line is to do all you can to help people, there are many roads to take. Physician and politician are but two of them.

Cox: How would you describe your new job as Senate Majority Leader?

Sen. Frist: Well, as you know, Senate Majority Leader was not a position that I sought. I am here because my colleagues asked me to serve under special circumstances. It is a great honor--and a great responsibility.

The Senate is a great institution. And it`s important that each of us--each United States Senator- remember that we are here to serve, not be served. We have a real obligation to try to do the right things at the right times, so when our time here has passed, we will have left the world a little better place than when we arrived.

That is the goal with which I arrive at the Capitol each morning. It is not always easy, but these are complicated and difficult times that must be met knowing that every single American deserves the best we can possibly give.

Cox: In these times when our freedom is threatened, most Americans want their elected leaders to work together. Do you see partisan politics playing too big a role in the judicial nomination process?

Sen. Frist: I do believe that the judicial confirmation process has become too partisan. Nominees should be judged on their merits, period. When you have qualified nominees, the Senate should fulfill its constitutional role of "advise and consent" rather than "stall and obstruct."


"I personally believe that a law-abiding citizen should have the Right to Keep and Bear Arms with minimal interference from local, state, or federal government."
--Senator Bill Frist

Cox: When the Bush administration stated its position that the Second Amendment--we call it "America`s First Freedom"--guarantees individual citizens the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, some in the media and the anti-gun movement began having fits. What is your view of what our Founding Fathers intended?

Sen. Frist: I believe the administration has taken a reasoned and appropriate position on the Second Amendment. I personally believe that a law-abiding citizen should have the Right to Keep and Bear Arms with minimal interference from local, state, or federal government.

Cox: Senator, you have said in the past that "Congress has a role to play in restoring common sense to criminal law." What exactly did you mean by that statement?

Sen. Frist: Our criminal laws and policies should focus on deterring crime through prevention and through swift and certain punishment. That is what I mean by "common sense" laws. Some Members of Congress sincerely believe that passing more gun control legislation will reduce crime. I disagree with them.

Violent criminals are not deterred by gun regulations. And we need to remember that the criminals, not the firearms, are the enemy. Fortunately, crime rates declined in the 1990s, in large part because Americans did, in fact, go back to a common sense approach to law enforcement--vigorously prosecuting criminals and insisting on appropriate punishment for crimes committed.

COX: But there are those who claim firearms are the enemy. Anti-gun organizations responded to the September 11 attacks by immediately demanding legislation that would have effectively ended traditional gun shows. Your reaction was to cosponsor the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act, which President Bush signed into law. You obviously viewed this terrorist threat as very real.

Sen. Frist: That is why I worked so hard to pass the Act. We have made a lot of progress. Some of it you see, much of it you don`t, but real progress has been made. Does that mean we are where we need to be? No, not yet.

And it`s important to keep in mind that while we can never guarantee total protection against attack, we will never stop doing everything possible to make our communities safe. In addition, individuals and families should try to empower themselves with as much information as possible on what to do in the event of differing types of emergencies. After all, in a crisis, there is very little that is more important than good information.

Cox: Following another tragedy that shocked the nation--the senseless rampage at Columbine High School--you remarked that in light of school violence "we must continue to work to spread the message of good character." Could you briefly expand on that?

Sen. Frist: Respect and responsibility are just as important. And we need to make sure we`re teaching our children to be responsible citizens who have good values and ethics. That is why I have cosponsored legislation to create a character education program at the Department of Education. That program provided over $16 million in grants last year to states and school districts across the country to teach our children the importance of caring, civic virtue and citizenship, justice and fairness, respect, responsibility, and trustworthiness.

Cox: One of the best things about the shooting sports is that they teach kids many of the lessons you talk about. Our home state of Tennessee has produced some great marksmen, and it has a long and proud hunting tradition. Do you have any advice for folks on how best to protect that tradition for future generations?

Sen. Frist: Over the years I have come to love and appreciate hunting more than I would have ever imagined. This great tradition, passed down from generation to generation, has brought me closer both to nature--and to my sons, who also love to hunt!

The best traditions endure because they are nurtured and passed down through generations. And I have to say that folks in Tennessee and elsewhere have protected the tradition of hunting so well throughout the centuries that I doubt I have much wisdom to add on that front!

Cox: Speaking of Tennessee, let me ask one last question, and I`ll preface it by saying that I`m well aware that we`re sitting right now in the heart of Redskins country. What were your thoughts on the Tennessee Titans this season?

Sen. Frist: I, along with everyone else in Tennessee, was disappointed that the Titans didn`t make it into the Super Bowl. But I have every hope that they will be there next season. The Titans can count on my support despite the fact that I work, as you said, in the heart of Redskins country.

Cox: Senator, thank you very much for your time.

TRENDING NOW
Out of Style: Levi’s Fawns Over Shannon Watts in Pantmaker’s Latest Gun Control Effort

News  

Friday, May 17, 2019

Out of Style: Levi’s Fawns Over Shannon Watts in Pantmaker’s Latest Gun Control Effort

At the National Retail Federation’s 2018 convention in New York City, Levi Strauss & Co. Brand President James Curleigh told those assembled that the multinational pants manufacturer intends to be the “most relevant lifestyle brand.” Evidently, part ...

Gov. Abbott Signs NRA-Backed Tenants' Rights Bill

News  

Friday, May 17, 2019

Gov. Abbott Signs NRA-Backed Tenants' Rights Bill

The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) applauded Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday for signing NRA-backed legislation that protects tenants’ rights by prohibiting “no firearms” clauses in residential leases.   

Trump Administration, Other Pro-Gun Heavyweights Lend Support on Pending Supreme Court Case

News  

Friday, May 17, 2019

Trump Administration, Other Pro-Gun Heavyweights Lend Support on Pending Supreme Court Case

As NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox reported in March, the U.S. Supreme Court has taken up a challenge by an NRA state affiliate to a New York City gun control scheme that effectively prohibits lawfully ...

Retired Justice Stevens Continues Crusade Against Guns

News  

Friday, May 17, 2019

Retired Justice Stevens Continues Crusade Against Guns

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens does not believe a law-abiding citizen has a right to possess firearms under the Second Amendment, and he wants to make sure everyone knows it. He made his ...

NRA Supports Guns Save Life's Challenge to Illinois’s FOID Act

News  

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

NRA Supports Guns Save Life's Challenge to Illinois’s FOID Act

NRA is supporting a legal challenge to Illinois's FOID Act brought by Guns Save Life, an organization dedicated to defending the Second Amendment rights of Illinois residents. 

NRA Applauds Attorneys General and Governors Amicus Brief in Supreme Court Challenge

News  

Thursday, May 16, 2019

NRA Applauds Attorneys General and Governors Amicus Brief in Supreme Court Challenge

NRA Applauds Attorney General and Governors Amicus Brief in Supreme Court Challenge.

Governor Abbott Signs NRA-Backed Tenants' Rights Bill

Friday, May 17, 2019

Governor Abbott Signs NRA-Backed Tenants' Rights Bill

On Thursday, Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 302 by Representative Dennis Paul (R-Houston) & Senator Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), NRA-supported legislation that prohibits “no firearms” clauses in residential leases.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Only What We Want Ye to Hear

News  

Friday, May 17, 2019

Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Only What We Want Ye to Hear

Can we finally put the claim that “gun violence” research is underfunded to rest? The Bloomberg Professor of American Health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, Daniel Webster, and his colleagues at the Hopkins ...

Does Shannon Watts want a Ban on all Centerfire Rifle Ammunition?

News  

Friday, May 10, 2019

Does Shannon Watts want a Ban on all Centerfire Rifle Ammunition?

Shannon Watts has developed her persona as a “full-time volunteer” who wants nothing more than to bring “common sense gun laws” to this country. However, she once again reminded gun owners of her true agenda ...

Illinois: Committee To Receive Private Transfer Ban Legislation

Friday, May 17, 2019

Illinois: Committee To Receive Private Transfer Ban Legislation

On May 21st, the Illinois state House of Representatives Rules Committee will hear House Amendment 1 to Senate Bill 1966 and send it to the Judiciary Committee for further consideration.  HA 1 to SB 1966 would ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.