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Jeb's Remarks to the NRA's Annual Leadership Forum

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Location: Washington, DC

Thanks Chris Cox and Wayne LaPierre. Thanks to my friend Marion Hammer -- she's back in Tallahassee. She is in the Florida Women's Hall of Fame in the capitol in Tallahassee. And she should be in the gun rights Hall of Fame for the good work she does!

I'm very excited to be here, talk about the need to change the direction of this country.

How we tax is stifling the next generation of businesses and workers and keeping them from rising up…Education system is broken and in need of reform…The DC deficits and debt are out of control…In the face of rising danger from Russia… and Iran … and ISIS -- among others -- our president is indecisive and weak… he's making bad deals and leaving America exposed.

Today I want to focus on a challenge at the heart of the Age of Obama: The government is too big… too powerful… and too intrusive: Regulating Internet with a law written in 1934; Government takeover of your health care; Greatest boon to our economy and national security is fracking -- hydraulic and horizontal drilling -- and Obama wants to regulate it and choke it. It's a world view.

It's the liberal-progressive world view of Barack Obama and Eric Holder and all the other people who want to take guns out of the hands of the good guys…the hands of law-abiding citizens. But the Second Amendment is one area where the Obama administration has run into a wall. And that Kevlar covered wall is the NRA. Because you've stayed informed on the issues… organized … made your voices heard… the Second Amendment is still safe. And that's a good thing…because the Second Amendment is the original Homeland Security Act.

Look: To the Obama Administration, the Constitution is like a breakfast buffet. They pick the amendments they like. And they leave the ones they don't like. The First. The Tenth. And the Second. But here's the thing: The Bill of Rights is an all-in set of rights. It's a package deal. You honor all of it… you protect all of it… because our liberty is diminished each time we don't. Now, we're seeing the Obama Administration take on gun rights wherever they can. You know what I'm talking about.

If they can't pass a law, they try executive orders. They try to ban certain guns. They try to ban certain bullets. They try to block banks from lending to small gun shops. It's almost like the Obama Administration doesn't realize that the best form of national defense is a nation of free men and women exercising their Second Amendment rights.

I have a message for the Obama Administration: Why don't you focus more on keeping weapons out of the hands of Islamic terrorists and less on keeping weapons out of the hands of law-abiding Americans. I'm not a newcomer to this issue -- I've been an NRA life member since 1986. I've been in the trenches with you. And when I was governor, we were passing laws and creating protections for gun-owners that set the bar for other states to follow. I will match my record against anyone else's when it comes to the support and defense of our Second Amendment rights.

When you're a governor for 8 years, you build a record. Here's mine: I earned an A+ rating from the NRA. I was proud of that one. Florida's pro-gun laws have been a model for other states. Today, there are well over 1.3 million law-abiding Floridians with valid concealed weapons permits. Most in the nation -- nearly double #2, Texas (700k)… Not that I'm competitive or anything…As governor, I had one year where I signed SIX pro-gun and hunting bills. That was a record for Florida, and the NRA gave it a good nickname: You called them the "Six Pack of Freedom."

Let me tell you about some of the laws we passed: There was an agenda to bankrupt gun manufacturers with frivolous lawsuits. The left-wing was brazen -- they talked about it openly. So we passed a law stopping these kinds of lawsuits -- because when a gun is used in a crime, the fault belongs to the criminal. We were seeing urban growth take away hunting lands. But hunting is a part of our heritage of independence. For many Americans, it's a sport shared by generations. So we passed the No Net Loss of Hunting Lands Legislation. This law required that the state replace lands lost to development with new lands in that same area. Since that law was passed in 2006, Florida has seen acreage for hunting increase by 159,221 acres.

We passed legislation to stop "name-and shame" campaigns to keep the government or media from publishing information about those with concealed weapons licenses. We had women who had good reason to want to keep their address secret. When you buy a gun, it's not an invitation for anyone-- not the government and not the media -- to name you and try to shame you. It's your home and it's your family. And it's nobody else's business.

We passed legislation to slam the door on gun registration -- so that state government agencies and private entities couldn't collect and maintain lists of law-abiding firearms owners. And if anybody tried to create such a registry, we created a fine of up to $5 million -- so that the law had some I'm-not-kidding-teeth.

Florida was one of the first states to make the Castle Doctrine the law of the land. If someone enters your home and you fear for your safety, you shouldn't have to try to escape first. You can use your weapon to defend yourself. Before the law was passed, juries were being told that you were supposed to run from your own home rather than defend yourself and your family. So we fixed that. And we built on that concept with the principle that you can Stand Your Ground.

In Florida, you can defend yourself anywhere you have a legal right to be if you reasonably believe you are in danger of death, or injury, or rape, or kidnapping. This is a sensible law that other states have adopted… because you shouldn't have to choose between being attacked or going to jail. The only thing you should worry about is keeping yourself and your loved ones safe. When I was governor, we were passing these laws and other states were following our lead. We were often the model. That's how it should work.

The Second Amendment creates a sacred right. But it's through the Tenth Amendment for each state to extend that right. What I know for sure is that it's not up to the federal government to centralize power in Washington D.C. When we protect your rights, we save lives. None of us want to see the loss of a single innocent life.

In Florida, we protected peoples' rights to defend themselves. And at the same time, we saw crime rates drop to levels we hadn't seen since the 1970s. And gun violence fell by 25%. Safety is always our top concern. Because life is precious, and the stakes are huge.

Last year, an armed thug burst into Foster and Pam Coker's home in Jacksonville, Florida. The man threatened Foster at gunpoint. He fired the weapon and Foster was grazed by a bullet. There was a struggle. Foster got his weapon. And you know what -- Pam got hers too. They both fired, and they stopped the intruder cold.

Before he could do any further damage. Before he could hurt the Coker's 7-year old grandson, who was asleep in the house that morning. Here's what Pam Coker said: "If we had not had a gun in our home, we would be dead. …Nothing was going to stop him." The sacred right to self-defense saved three lives that day. In one state. In one town. In one home. And that's just one story.

Every year, law-abiding gun owners are forced to defend themselves with a firearm more than 2 million times. That's a proven fact -- and it's the kind of evidence that we need to remember and repeat. But our work isn't done. We can't relax. Here's why: Eric Holder was asked what his greatest failure was as an attorney general. I can think of a few. But here's what he said: He was sorry he didn't impose enough gun control on America. If Eric Holder calls that a failure, I'll take it as a win. But this isn't just about the 2nd amendment. It's about individual freedom everywhere in this country. The freedom to defend liberty wherever it is threatened.

Right after the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution was in deep trouble. The Congress was run out of Philadelphia. Only 20 delegates were meeting. But one of them -- Sam Adams -- refused to give up. Sam Adams spoke to the delegates and said that Congress had a duty…To lift up the nation…And -- quote -- "encourage them to persevere in this glorious struggle, until their rights and liberties shall be established on a rock…."

The war turned, and our side started to rally. And later … during the debate over the Constitution, he proposed an amendment that would protect three big freedoms; the freedom of the press, protection against unreasonable search and seizures and I quote: the Constitution "be never construed to authorize Congress…to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms." That one sentence suggestion became the First, Fourth and Second Amendments to our Constitution. One man. One sentence. That's a good day's work for liberty.

We need that spirit: leaders who inspire us to come together and solve problems. If I go beyond the consideration of the possibility of running that will be my mission. I will do it with joy in my heart. Draw people to our cause… fix a few big things …I'm a happy warrior and I'll do it to win and bring about solutions that preserve all of our rights.


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