One year ago today we solemnly reflected on our brothers and sisters who were lost, and those forever changed, at the hands of an evil and deranged man who methodically planned and executed one of the most horrific acts in our nation's recent history.
The past year has been, without question, a seemingly endless hurricane of government force brought to bear by unceasing political winds, funded and fueled into a cyclone of cynicism by billionaires and opportunists who seek to reinvent America in their preferred shades of authoritarianism.
But our positions and advocacy do not change according to political winds.
Rather than hiding behind ignorantly simplistic partisan rhetoric, or some unsubstantiated and uninformed hope that a political party or its leaders will save us from further constitutional injury, FPC and our supporters have consistently and tirelessly opposed legislation and regulations that would further separate the People from their rights, individual liberty, and the limited government that our national charter guarantees.
We refuse to accept the idea that bedrock principles of American constitutional law do not apply in the context of gun owners.
We reject the politically convenient but lawless notion that federal agencies have carte blanche authority to rule by fiat as they see fit.
We are not a frog; we do not offer quarter or compromise to scorpions.
We are not sheep, we are not subjects, and we are not political chattel to be used and discarded after the ballots have been counted.
Indeed, we do not consent to a unilateral elimination of constitutional safeguards, that due process is merely an annoyance that can be written out of our social contract by proclamation.
Our Constitution may in some ways stand today more battered that it did one year ago. But still it stands, in spite of hundreds upon hundreds of attacks at the federal, state, and local level, because courageous and fortitudinous people have take action and defend liberty and the Constitution from the actions of city council members of small American towns to Senator Dianne Feinstein and President Donald Trump, Democrats and Republicans alike.
The benefit of operating from principles, those philosophical underpinnings grounded in individual liberty and protected in our Constitution, is that what we said after the Las Vegas massacre and what we said after Parkland is still true today: "The American people will not be bullied by killers or politicians and neither will we cower against attacks on our most important civil rights. We reject the notion that good, peaceable people and our basic rights must suffer for the crimes of the wicked. . . . We are honor-bound to stand united in defense of fundamental, individual liberties, in all cases, and in spite of the incalculable grief we feel for the victims of Las Vegas as fellow human beings. Firearms Policy Coalition takes seriously our chartered duty to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially the fundamental, individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms."
As constitutional litigator Donald Kilmer has explained many times over the years, "If civic virtue does not reside in the people, no constitution, no bill of rights, no legislative body, and no court will be able to preserve our liberties."
We are both grateful and humbled to report that, at least among FPC's extraordinary members and supporters, civic virtue lives on.
O say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
It does. And with your support, it will continue to.
SACRAMENTO, CA (October 3, 2017) — Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) has issued the following statement concerning the shooting in Las Vegas:
Our hearts break for the victims of the heinous mass murder in Las Vegas and our prayers are with them, their families, and everyone affected by this incomprehensible act of evil. While it is impossible to measure the loss suffered in Sunday’s tragedy, the sting from this senseless violence will doubtless be felt for years to come.
We are deeply grateful for the law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics, nurses, doctors, blood donors, and countless volunteers who stood tall and delivered aid to the innocent in a time of great need, as Americans do.
Sadly, opportunistic politicians who prey on tragedies like this one have already begun to suggest that our response should be to abandon our constitutional principles in favor of policies that would ban more guns, disarm more victims, and further expand “gun free zones” — spaces shielded by nothing more than invisible lines and wishful thinking.
Such policies are not only irrational, but outright dangerous. As every attack in what was purported to be a ‘gun-free’, ‘bomb-free’, or ‘vehicle-free’ zone proves, there is no set of laws that will prevent evil people from monstrously plotting an effective means to harm others.
In a cruel and potentially dangerous irony, many—if not most—of the same people who assert that we cannot possibly trust the government under someone like President Donald Trump also claim that it is only the government that we should trust to safely and responsibly possess weapons like the most common semi-automatic rifle in America, the AR-15.
We know that the privileged and wealthy elite will purchase paramilitary protective teams armed with the very firearms they so desperately wish to put out of the reach of the common man, but the rest of us would be left to hope and pray.
That is why the Second Amendment’s guarantees are not a matter of convenience, nor of need, nor even of want. The basic human right to armed self-defense against unjust force is precisely why our Founders enshrined it into our Constitution—to protect it against the capricious nature of popular opinion, the momentum of the mob, and those who would seek to limit it to a watered-down, second-class privilege for some.
Thankfully, as the Supreme Court correctly noted in the landmark Heller decision, the “very enumeration of the right takes out of the hands of government—even the Third Branch of Government—the power to decide on a case-by-case basis whether the right is really worth insisting upon.”
Nearly 15 years ago, the Ninth Circuit’s then-Chief Judge Alex Kozinski aptly wrote that the “prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do. But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed — where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.”
Every day, evil people and governments around the world employ tools ranging from clenched fists to combat aircraft to perpetrate unspeakable and unjustified crimes upon others. But objectivity and reason compels us to recognize that those instruments are but the means to the end, and not the end itself. Indeed, the span of human history shows that such arms are also used to liberate the oppressed, establish order and justice from anarchy, and defend innocent life from cruel despots.
The American people will not be bullied by killers or politicians and neither will we cower against attacks on our most important civil rights. We reject the notion that good, peaceable people and our basic rights must suffer for the crimes of the wicked.
There is no more pure a victory for evil than for our society to assault or eliminate the rights of good people in response to things we did not do. And so a just world must hold accountable the writers of history for their deeds, not the mere quills through which it is written.
We law-abiding people of America do not accept responsibility for the evil, cowardly acts of the deranged and hateful among us, nor do we accept blame for their unconscionable and cowardly uses of instruments that can and do serve as instruments of self-defense and justice.
A great champion of individual liberties once said that if civic virtue does not reside in the people, no constitution, no bill of rights, no legislative body, and no court will be able to preserve our liberties.
That is why, in troubled and troubling times like these, we are honor-bound to stand united in defense of fundamental, individual liberties, in all cases, and in spite of the incalculable grief we feel for the victims of Las Vegas as fellow human beings.
Firearms Policy Coalition takes seriously our chartered duty to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially the fundamental, individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
FPC and our allies will continue fighting to defend and advance our Constitution’s protection of fundamental human rights.
Firearms Policy Coalition (www.firearmspolicy.org) is a 501(c)4 grassroots nonprofit organization. FPC’s mission is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially the fundamental, individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.