Two hundred and forty years ago this summer, in the Declaration of Independence, the framers of America’s Constitution said, “We hold these Truths to be self-evident that all Men are created equal that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
So: What exactly does “liberty” mean?
The simple definition is that liberty is the state or condition of people who are able to act and speak freely.
Liberty is the power to do or choose or decide for yourself.
But more and more in America today, the power to do or choose or decide for yourself is being taken away by elites who want to deny you the ability to define your own destiny.
These people say they’re smarter than you, more educated than you... they say their motives are more enlightened than yours.
And they think their self-assigned “moral superiority” gives them the right to dictate to you how you live your life.
And former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a perfect example.
He believes he should decide everything from how big a soda you can buy to how much salt you’re allowed to have in your food to what colors are acceptable for the new roof you want to put on your home.
Now Bloomberg’s pouring millions into trying to make the state of Maine just like New York City when it comes to gun control.
He’s starting by pushing a ballot initiative Question 3 this November.
Whether or not you own a gun, you need to know: Question 3 would be a nightmare for all of you.
Because it’s an unenforceable, unfunded mandate that won’t stop a single violent criminal from getting a gun.
But it will turn law-abiding citizens into accidental criminals overnight.
And it will cut another chunk out of your freedom.
Friends, if you have to consult a lawyer before loaning a rifle to your cousin during deer season you not that free.
If you make a new friend at the range and you want to ask to shoot his gun but you don’t, because you’re afraid you might be committing some crime... you are not that free.
If you have to drive to the gun store, stand in line, give up your personal information and pay a transfer fee just to loan your hunting rifle to your neighbor for the weekend and do it all again on Monday when he gives it back- is anyone safer for all your time and money? Of course not!
So why do Bloomberg and Obama and Hillary Clinton really want their so-called “universal background checks”?
Well, Obama’s own Justice Department said that for universal background checks to work… would “require gun registration.”
Folks, cities and states have used the scheme of gun registration for decades.
And so have other countries. If history teaches us anything, it’s that it’s useless for fighting crime. Because criminals don't register their guns.
The only thing gun registration gives government ... is a list… to tax ‘em or to take ‘em.
Folks, we here in this room know, just as Thomas Jefferson warned, that “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”
We also know that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
And in the scope of human history, Hitler and Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot are less than a blink of the eye in our past.
Those human tragedies might as well have been yesterday.
But too many people today say “The world is different now.”
The Millennial generation seems to believe that government is unerringly a force for good ...
and that giving up our freedoms on the promise of more security is the progressive thing to do.
But we know where the loss of liberty leads. The world has been down that road too many times before.
That road might be paved with the help of good intentions ... but it leads to a place of terror.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s been said that those who forget the hard lessons of history are condemned to repeat them. But young voters today can’t count on the media to tell the truth.
That’s why we’re taking those stories to the airwaves all across the country. Americans need to know the truth about what’s really at stake.
And the fact is, the debate over gun control in this country isn’t about “universal background checks” or bans on this gun, or that ammunition.
It’s about power.
It’s about control.
And it’s about a growing trend in this country where disconnected, uncaring elites – political elites, media elites, the rich, the powerful and the connected – want to dictate how you live your life.
They say they know what’s best for you.
So, you’d better just sit down, shut up and do as they say.
And it’s not just the Second Amendment they’re after. All our freedoms are under their axe.
Just look at Obamacare.
When a federal law says that you MUST buy some form of federally-approved insurance or pay heavy fines to the IRS… are you really “free” to do as you please?
You know, I might be the chief of the NRA’s lobbying arm.
And the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms may be the beginning and end of the NRA’s mission.
But our freedoms are all connected. They depend on each other.
And when one freedom is denied or restricted by the powers that be, all our freedoms are diminished.
When the Attorney General of the United States talks about using RICO organized-crime prosecutions to silence skeptics of global warming so Obama can wage war on coal or oil ... that damages your First Amendment right to free speech.
When Obama says he wants to use secret government “watch lists” to deny your Second Amendment right to own a gun even if you’ve never been accused, let alone convicted, of any crime that destroys your Fifth Amendment right to due process.
Your Fourth Amendment right to privacy is followed on the Internet, photographed at traffic lights, data-mined by marketers, and databased by Obamacare.
At college campuses across this country, our nation’s future leaders are being taught that the First Amendment right of free speech is dangerous- that the language is full of terrifying “trigger words” and that expressing a view that departs from the liberal orthodoxy is not only a good way to fail in school, it’s also a good way to get kicked out of school.
You think I’m kidding? In Maryland, they kicked a second-grader out of school for chewing his Pop Tart into the shape of an imaginary gun!
Whether it’s your First Amendment right to free speech, or your Fourth Amendment right to privacy, or your Fifth Amendment right to due process, or your Sixth Amendment right to be confronted with the witnesses who say you can’t be trusted to own a gun - our Bill of Rights today is being attacked on every front.
You know, it’s one thing to have your right to due process or free speech curtailed.
But it’s entirely different when your Second Amendment right to have a gun to protect yourself in your own home is denied…
and you’re forced to go to sleep at night in fear.
Put yourself in the shoes of someone who’s lived with that loss of liberty.
Imagine, you work hard. But you can't afford to live in a fancy neighborhood like Michael Bloomberg.
No…you live in the projects and it’s overrun with drug dealers and gang members.
You don’t feel safe in your own home. The police aren't there when you need them … in fact, they don’t really like to come around.
You heard that the U.S. Supreme Court said you can keep a gun in your home to defend yourself.
But it seems like that only applies to other people … rich people … because the Housing Authority says they’ll throw you out on the street if you do it.
Folks, Josephine Byrd didn’t know where to turn – so she turned to the NRA. We helped her sue the public housing authority to reclaim her right to feel safe in her own home.
That case was Jane Doe vs the Delaware public housing authority and it went all the way to the Delaware Supreme Court.
It was under “Jane Doe”, because Josephine Byrd was so scared that she would be thrown to the streets by the government.
And you know what? The Delaware Supreme Court agreed with Josephine Byrd and us, and found in her favor by a unanimous decision.
The right to feel safe in your own home, the right to survive, isn’t something that depends on your tax bracket or zip code.
It’s your right.
The government didn’t give you that right. It’s was yours at birth. Politicians have no authority taking it away.
And we’ll fight them every step of the way when they try!
That’s why this year’s elections are so crucial when it comes to your freedom.
Eight years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled – in a 5-to-4 split decision – that the Second Amendment protects your right to have a gun in your home for protection.
It was the first time the Court had ruled that the right to keep and bear arms is your individual right.
And in so doing, it put an end to the Washington, D.C. ban on handguns in the home for self-defense.
Two years later, in the case of McDonald vs. Chicago, the Supreme Court ruled that this right was fundamental, and that no city or state could deny it.
But do you know what Hillary Clinton has said about those decisions?
Listen to this:
[AUDIO OF HILLARY CLINTON SAYING THE SUPREME COURT WAS WRONG ABOUT THE SECOND AMENDMENT]
Folks, since Hillary Clinton’s comments came to light, her campaign has gone through all kinds of contortions to claim that Hillary didn’t mean what she said, or didn’t say what she meant.
But here’s the truth, you can’t say “the Supreme Court was wrong on the Second Amendment” without also saying “the Supreme Court was wrong to rule that it’s an individual right.”
That was the core of both the Heller and McDonald decisions!
Today, with the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court is split down the middle - four votes to four - on whether you have an individual right to own a gun in your home for self-defense.
And if Hillary Clinton wins the White House in November, you can bet she’ll stack the court with justices who share her belief.
I think Charlton Heston said it best when he said that the Second Amendment is… in order of importance, the first amendment. It is the one right that protects all the others. It is the one freedom that makes freedom, in any of its forms, defensible.
To quote St. George Tucker, one of the fathers of American constitutional law:
"The right of self-defense is the first law of nature… Wherever the right of the people to keep and bear arms is under any color or pretext whatsoever prohibited … liberty … if not already annihilated … is on the brink of destruction."
Why is that true?
Because the right to protect ourselves is the most fundamental right we have as living beings. That’s why self-defense is considered a “natural right.”
And it’s why we will never apologize for defending that freedom.
Americans know they can count on the NRA to stand on principle.
They know they can count on the NRA to tell the truth.
They know the NRA won’t hesitate to take on anybody be it President Obama, Michael Bloomberg, Hillary Clinton or anyone else to protect that birthright.
So if you want to know what it looks like to see that freedom slip away, talk to Josephine Byrd about what it was like to be disarmed and left defenseless.
For that matter, talk to Harvey Lembo - right here in Portland - whose home was broken into five times before he got a gun to protect himself – only to have the housing authority tell him, “Get rid of the gun or get out.”
That’s the ultimatum we face in this year’s elections.
Don’t wake up the morning after Election Day and realize Michael Bloomberg just bought a piece of your freedoms with Question 3. Don't wake up and face the reality of Hillary Clinton for the next four to eight years.
Don’t wake up and realize - too late - that the next two to four Supreme Court justices will be appointed by someone who says you have no individual right to a gun for self-defense.
Stand and fight to defend that freedom with the NRA.
Spread the word to everybody you know. Corner them at work, at church, in the grocery store or wherever you find them. Call ‘em! Email ‘em.
Contact them however you have to, and let ‘em know the truth:
This is a fight for freedom. In this election, we don’t have the luxury of voting on other issues. We no longer have a choice anymore.
So stand and fight for your freedom! Stand and fight for your safety! Stand and fight for the one essential liberty that protects us from the tyranny of surrender!
If you do, we will save the last great Bastian of freedom on the face of the planet.