Gun Laws & Legislation
National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre at this morning National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre at this morning's news conference in Washington, D.C.  

NRA leader criticizes Obama for attacks on ‘absolutism’

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Alex Pappas
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      Alex Pappas

      Alex Pappas is a Washington D.C.-based political reporter for The Daily Caller. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and the Mobile Press-Register. Pappas is a graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he was editor-in-chief of The Sewanee Purple. While in college, he did internships at NBC's Meet the Press and the White House. He grew up in Mobile, Ala., where he graduated from St. Paul's Episcopal School. He and his wife live on Capitol Hill.

National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre accused President Barack Obama Tuesday evening of making a mockery of the Declaration of Independence in his inaugural address, criticizing the president for saying, “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle.”

In a speech during a hunting and conservation award ceremony billed by the NRA as a response to the inaugural address, LaPierre also said of Obama: “He doesn’t understand you. He doesn’t agree with the freedoms you cherish.”

But the recurring theme of LaPierre’s response was criticizing Obama over “absolutism,” a word the NRA leader referred to more than 15 times in his response. He suggested Obama’s use of the word at his second inauguration was offensive.

LaPierre also criticized Obama’s proposal for a “massive federal registry” of gun owners.

“There are only two reasons for that federal list of gun owners — to tax them or take them,” LaPierre said. “And to anyone who says that’s excessive, Barack Obama says you’re an ‘absolutist.’”

Added LaPierre: “Mr. President, you might think that calling us ‘absolutists’ is a clever way of ‘name-calling’ without using names. But if that is ‘absolutist,’ then we are as ‘absolutist’ as the Founding Fathers and framers of the Constitution. And we’re proud of it!”

Below is the full transcript of LaPierre’s remarks before the 56th Annual Weatherby Foundation International Hunting and Conservation Awards:

Thank you for that kind introduction. And thank you for your warm welcome.

Yesterday in his second inaugural address, President Barack Obama quoted the Declaration of Independence and he talked about “unalienable rights.” I would argue that his words make a mockery of both.

I’d like to talk to you about one line near the end of Barack Obama’s speech where he said, quote “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle.” Let me quote the president again: “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle.”

So what is this “absolutism” the president attacks? And what are the so-called “principles” that he wants us to settle for instead?

Obama wants to turn the idea of “absolutism” into a dirty word, just another word for “extremism.” He wants you to accept the idea of “principles” as he sees fit to define them. It’s a way of redefining words so that common sense is turned upside-down and nobody knows the difference.

Think about it. As families, when we’re broke and all our credit cards are maxed out, we’re forced to tighten our belts.

But when the government is broke and our bond rating is tumbling and the president wants more new social programs, borrowing more money is supposed to be “principled.” And anybody who questions that is a no-good “absolutist” — Obama code for extremist.

We as gun owners face the same kind of false ultimatum. We’re told that to stop insane killers, we must accept less freedom — less than the criminal class and political class keep for themselves.

We’re told that limits on magazine capacity or bans on 100-year-old firearms technology — bans that only affect lawful people — will somehow make us safer.

We’re told that wanting the same technology that the criminals and our leaders keep for themselves is a form of “absolutism” and that accepting less freedom and protection for ourselves is the only “principled” way to live.

Think about what that means. Barack Obama is saying that the only “principled” way to make children safe is to make lawful citizens less safe and violent criminals more safe.

Criminals couldn’t care less about Barack Obama’s so-called “principles”! They don’t have principles — that’s why they’re criminals.

Obama wants you to believe that putting the federal government in the middle of every firearm transaction — except those between criminals — will somehow make us safer.

That means forcing law-abiding people to fork over excessive fees to exercise their rights. Forcing parents to fill out forms to leave a family heirloom to a loved one — standing in line and filling out a bunch of bureaucratic paperwork, just so a grandfather can give a grandson a Christmas gift. He wants to put every private, personal transaction under the thumb of the federal government, and he wants to keep all those names in a massive federal registry.

There are only two reasons for that federal list of gun owners — to tax them or take them. And to anyone who says that’s excessive, Barack Obama says you’re an “absolutist.”

He doesn’t understand you. He doesn’t agree with the freedoms you cherish. If the only way he can force you to give ‘em up is through scorn and ridicule, he’s more than willing to do it — even as he claims the moral high ground.

He said it yesterday! In the very same sentence that Obama talked about “absolutism” versus “principle,” he also scolded his critics for “name-calling,” as he called it.

He’s more than willing to demonize his opponents, silence his critics and slur the NRA — in the words of Senator Charles Schumer, as an “extremist fringe group.” And look at how he demonizes Republicans in Congress.

When Barack Obama says, “we cannot mistake absolutism for principle,” what he’s saying is that precision and clarity and exactness in language and law should be abandoned in favor of his nebulous, undefined “principles.”

I’ve got news for the president. Absolutes do exist. Words do have specific meaning, in language and in law. It’s the basis of all civilization. It’s why our laws are written down: So the “letter of the law” carries the force of the law.

That’s why our Bill of Rights was written into law, to ensure the fundamental freedoms of a minority could never be denied by a majority. Those are the principles we call unalienable rights.

Without those absolutes, without those protections, democracy decays into nothing more than two wolves and one lamb voting on what to eat for lunch. I urge our president to use caution when attacking clearly defined “absolutes” in favor of his “principles.”

Mister President, just because you wish words meant something other than what they mean, you don’t have the right to define them any way you want. Because when words can mean anything, they mean nothing.

When “absolutes” are abandoned for “principles,” the U.S. Constitution becomes a blank slate for anyone’s graffiti and our rights and freedoms are defaced.

Words do have meaning, Mister President. And those meanings are absolute, especially when it comes to our Bill of Rights.

Don’t take it from me. Take it from former Democratic U.S. Senator and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black. Fifty years ago, after he had been appointed to the Supreme Court by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, liberal Justice Hugo Black said, and I quote: “There are ‘absolutes’ in our Bill of Rights, and they were put there on purpose by men who knew what words meant and meant their prohibitions to be ‘absolutes.’” End quote.

Let me read that again. “There are ‘absolutes’ in our Bill of Rights, and they were put there on purpose by men who knew what words meant and meant their prohibitions to be ‘absolutes.’”

Justice Black understood the danger of self-appointed arbiters of what “freedom” really means — like President Barack Obama — who want to redefine freedom, whittle away freedom and infringe upon the freedoms that we the people reserve to ourselves.

They’re God-given freedoms. They belong to us as our birthright. No government ever gave them to us and no government can ever take them away.

Mister President, you may not like that. You may wish it were some other way. But you can’t argue that it isn’t true.

In that, the American people are, and will always remain, utterly absolute! We are not people to be trivialized, marginalized or demonized as unreasonable. We’re not children who need to be parented or misguided “bitter clingers” to guns and religion.

We get up every day, we work hard to pay our taxes, we cherish our families and we care about their safety. We believe in living honorably, and living within our means.

We believe we deserve, and have every right to, the same level of freedom that our government leaders keep for themselves, and the same capabilities and same technologies that criminals use to prey upon us and our families. That means we believe in our right to defend ourselves and our families with semi-automatic technology.

We believe that if neither the criminal nor the political class is limited by magazine capacity, we shouldn’t be limited in our capacity either.

We believe in our country. We believe in our Bill of Rights. And we believe in our Second Amendment, all of our Second Amendment. Because we believe in the freedom and safety that it, and it alone, guarantees absolutely.

Mister President, you might think that calling us “absolutists” is a clever way of “name-calling” without using names. But if that is “absolutist,” then we are as “absolutist” as the Founding Fathers and framers of the Constitution … and we’re proud of it!

Thank you very much!

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