My topic was the importance of teaching our kids about the Second Amendment. Here's what I said:
Good Afternoon Gun Lobby!
Thanks for coming out on this beautiful day in the land of the free!
I think you all know that this is the land of the free because it's the home of the brave.
God bless our young men and women who sign that blank check and swear that oath to guard the gates of freedom. And while they're physically standing in the way of outside aggression against our nation, it's up to us to guard the ideals, principles, and promises of the founding documents of this great nation.
Just as “the Gun Lobby” is not a bunch of overpaid suits in Washington DC – sorry to disappoint Mike Bloomberg, Nancy Pelosi, Governor Cuomo, and the like, but if the NRA disappeared tomorrow, the Gun Lobby would still be just as powerful, because it's not the NRA, it's the NRA members and tens of millions of dedicated patriots just like you, scattered throughout this wide land. So too is the government of the United States not the overpaid suits in Washington, but rather we the people.
“WE THE PEOPLE of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
We've never been perfect in living up to the ideals expressed in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights. Even at the time of their writing, the Framers knew that the Constitution itself didn't live up to the ideals they were espousing. But that didn't keep them from expressing those lofty objectives as their – and our – ultimate goal. The target we should be shooting for. Perfection is not attainable in this world, but our charge is to do our best to strive for that unreachable goal, and not just for ourselves, but for our children, grandchildren, and generations to come.
If you look at the original copies of the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, which I just read, you will notice that there are various words in that short passage which are capitalized. “We the people” is written over-sized, with bold strokes, and all capital letters. The words “Order,” “Union,” “Justice,” “Tranquility,” “Welfare,” “Blessings,” “Liberty,” and “Posterity,” all begin with what would today be considered by our English teachers to be improper capital letters. But at the time, capitalization was commonly used as a way to add emphasis. These were words that the framers expressed with special significance, and one of the most important in that list is the last one: “Posterity.”
Posterity is a word that we don't use much anymore. It's very akin to the word “Ancestors,” except it is looking in the opposite direction. As our ancestors are the generations that came before us, our posterity are the generations that come after us, and we have a sacred obligation to those generations. My fear though, is that we have been doing a poor job of educating our children about the principles of liberty, and the ideals that our republic was founded upon.
The Blessings of Liberty are not reserved for old white guys, nor are they reserved for any other select group. They are the birthright of every American, and they are framed in the context of the smallest minority – the individual. It is incumbent upon each of us to know and understand the principles of liberty, and to pass that knowledge and understanding on to our children and our children's children for generations to come.
The Second Amendment says: “A well-regulated militia being necessary for the security of a free state, the Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms shall not be infringed.” What this means in modern language is: Since it's important that the people be able to come together in an orderly fashion (cooperatively or independently) to defend themselves, the country, and each other in times of need, the Right of the People (that's you and me and everyone within the jurisdiction of the United States) to keep (acquire, own, possess) and bear (carry and use) arms (guns, knives, tasers, pepper-spray, etc.) may not be restricted or curtailed.
There's no ambiguity about this short statement or its intent, and those who want to try and complicate and confuse it are simply wrong.
But here's something that's key to defending the Second Amendment: The right to arms – just like all of the Bill of Rights – belongs to everyone. It exists in great measure as a protection of all of the other rights we enjoy. We, as defenders of the Second Amendment, must also be defenders of the entire Bill of Rights, and all of the rights and privileges spelled out or implied in our founding principles, and we must defend them for everyone – whether Christian or Muslim, black, white, or brown, Republican or Democrat or Communist or monarchist. As long as they are not calling for violence or fomenting insurrection, their ideas and their philosophies are protected here – by us – including their right to espouse foolish or harmful ideas.
As Americans, we the people must do our best to live up to the ideals of our founding documents, and defend the rights of all to bring their ideas into the public square for open and honest discussion, protecting the liberty of those who might be marginalized or oppressed, to ensure that the smallest minority – the individual – can pursue their vision of happiness, unmolested and unafraid, as long as they are not trampling on the rights of others in the process.
We must live our values. Set an example, and share those values with our children, so that we might secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity far into the future.
It is a difficult charge and a lofty goal, so we must not flinch or falter, keeping our eye on the target as we aim for liberty and justice for all.
You are the Gun Lobby. We are “THE PEOPLE.” It is up to us to raise up our children in the ways of righteousness, so that they might never depart from it, and enjoy the Blessings of Liberty for generations forward.
I'm Jeff Knox of The Firearms Coalition. Thank you for being here. Thank you for your attention. Thank you for being the Gun Lobby. And God Bless America.
About Jeff Knox:
Jeff Knox is a second-generation political activist and director of The Firearms Coalition. His father Neal Knox led many of the early gun rights battles for your right to keep and bear arms. Read Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War.
The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition has offices in Buckeye, Arizona and Manassas, VA. Visit: www.FirearmsCoalition.