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Public Statements

Second Amendment Rights

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WALBERG. I thank the gentlelady, my friend from Missouri, for holding this opportunity for us to speak on the Second Amendment.

I've often said at town hall meetings that we're talking about the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights, that namely speaks to the issue that was declared so strongly in the Declaration of Independence, that document, one of two documents that could be considered the greatest manmade documents ever penned, the Declaration of Independence and then the Constitution.

The Bill of Rights understood what the Declaration said, that all men are created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights, namely, the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I think the Framers and Founders understood with the First Amendment, the right to free speech and the freedom of religion, but also that understanding that the right to life involved making sure that I could defend myself, protect myself, care for myself, feed myself with the use of a weapon in the field in hunting, but not simply that. Mr. Speaker, I will say, it was there to make sure that a citizen, a free citizen of the United States, was able to care for himself or herself, his family or her family, in any shape or form.

And so I see the First Amendment as important, but I see equally important the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms. And as my friend Ted Nugent says: ``Keep'' is defined as ``It's mine. It's not yours. You're not going to take it from me.''

Very simple. Very simple.

I think we need to understand as there are laws that are being thought of, well-intentioned even, and yet laws that really aren't based in reality of what takes place around civilization, when it understands that we need to make sure that we don't step on other people's rights and their freedoms and their opportunities, yet there is a place when we must be prepared to defend ourselves so that those rights can be carried on, not only for ourselves, but for those that count on us to care.

In a famous quote, Benjamin Franklin said it this way:

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither safety nor liberty.

Well said.

I think there are people with well-meaning intentions right now that aren't thinking of the fact that liberty comes with a cost, that it comes with the responsibility and an accountability to continue on to make sure that liberty continues, not only for me, but for you and everyone else, and that liberty is protected from those who would take away our freedoms, our rights, even our lives.

I like to hunt, and I love to trapshoot, and I love to shoot skeets, and I love to shoot sporting clay, and I love to target practice. On my farm, we have a target range, and my wife uses it as well. In fact, she uses it better than I do with a pistol. Yet with the fun and enjoyment that can come from being trained, we also understand the concerns that are there as with any tool, as my dad taught me. He taught me not only how to shoot a gun and about the inherent dangers that were there that also demanded my responsibility and accountability, but he also taught me how to use a radial saw. He said it would work very well in doing the things it was meant for, but you have to be careful with it.

So, yes, we who believe in the Second Amendment believe that there ought to be training and that people ought to care for how they use their weapons, but we believe they ought to be allowed for us to freely use as they were intended for all good purposes. I grew up on the south side of Chicago. Leroy Brown and Junkyard Dog were my neighbors. I love that area of Calumet City where I grew up, but I also know that there are dangers. I also know that protection is required and that the protection to fit the need and the concern is what must be there.

So I would say to my friend and colleague, as well as to the Speaker and to those who might listen to these words, that the Second Amendment is not the problem; and the law-abiding citizen who carries out the responsibilities of the Second Amendment is not the problem. Most of us fit in that category. Nothing in the bill that was put forth in the Senate, or any other thoughts, would take care of those criminals. It would not have changed the Boston bombers in their ability to get and to use for criminal, terrorist purposes any change or impingement on the Second Amendment. They would have still committed their atrocities, and they would have still gotten their weapons. The only negative impact would have been on law-abiding citizens, the ability to keep and to bear arms, to protect themselves--to carry out the constitutional right.

So I thank the gentlelady from Missouri for allowing us to speak on this issue.

Hopefully, some would hear the common sense of it all and not just hear what some would say: that if we appreciate weapons, we are warmongers or that we are living in danger and producing danger in other people's lives. The fact is just the opposite: we are there to ensure safety, ensure liberty and to make sure that people are protected against criminals who would abuse us regardless of what the law or the Constitution says.

I will defend that, and I thank my colleagues for standing for this reality and truth for the Second Amendment.


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