Upholding our right to self-defense

Photo by iStock/StarkyTang

When Democratic Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke announced on the debate stage that “Hell yes, we are going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” he set off a media firestorm and ignited passionate gun owners all over the country. That firestorm in Texas included a response by one of our state representatives, who reminded us all that “Come and Take It” was not a polite invitation to those in authority. It was, in fact, a challenge to a dictator threatening physical violence on people who simply wanted to live freely and defend themselves against tyranny.  

Our Founding Fathers built this republic on a system of checks and balances, and the Bill of Rights protects the people's ability to rein in the government. History has shown us that when a government seeks to impose its will on people, the first step is to take away their right to keep and bear arms. The right to self-defense is a founding principle of our great nation and the core right that protects all other rights. 

The Republican Party has long fought for upholding our God-given right to self-defense. Our party’s principles include “the inalienable right of all people to defend themselves and their property” and “personal accountability and responsibility.” This is why, when those bent on harming others fail to follow laws that forbid murder or forbid guns in certain zones, our response is not to ask for more laws that will be ignored by criminals. Our response is to encourage personal responsibility for our families’ and communities’ safety. We want to see more law-abiding citizens exercising caution and their right to defend themselves and their property.  

The Democratic Party is racing to the extreme on limiting the right to self-defense that the Second Amendment explicitly protects, going so far that one of their candidates for president is openly advocating the confiscation of citizens’ guns. They are making it clear that on this important issue they stand against those trying to defend themselves and their families. 

Democrats have pushed false narratives that many firearms are obtained through the “gun-show loophole.” The U.S. Department of Justice determined that 77% of firearms involved in criminal activity were obtained from “street/illegal sources” or “friends and family,” which includes theft of firearms, black market purchases and straw purchases. Only 0.8% obtained a firearm from gun shows. Their focus on this false narrative is further proof that the left isn’t interested in stopping violence, just in limiting our rights.

The facts don’t support any efforts at limiting the rights of law-abiding citizens. Cities like Chicago and Baltimore have some of the strictest gun control policies, yet they also have some of the highest violence and murder rates in the country. 

At its 3rd quarter meeting this month, the State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) passed resolutions affirming our stances on the right to self-defense as protected in the Second Amendment. We remain firmly in opposition to “red flag laws,” which deprive individuals of their right to keep and bear arms without any measurable reduction in violence. This is not to say that suspicious activity should not be reported to and investigated by authorities, but that we oppose presumption of guilt and any requirement that someone be proven innocent in order to regain the ability to exercise a foundational right.

We also affirmed our opposition to costly mandatory Enhanced Background Checks (EBC). Not only do mandatory EBCs raise more false positives, effectively limiting law-abiding citizens’ right to keep and bear arms, but also they have been proven not to work. In Colorado and Washington states, for example, laws were passed that required universal background checks, including on private sales between individuals. Just three years later, researchers came to the conclusion that not only were those laws ineffective at reducing gun-related crimes, the lack of enforcement mechanisms resulted in citizens simply not complying. 

We stand by our party platform, which lays out several stances regarding the Second Amendment, including a core tenet of the Republican Party — personal responsibility. Individuals should take responsibility to safely store firearms and choose when and how to make them available to minors, and regulate themselves through safe handling procedures, voluntary training and safely carrying firearms to deter crime. 

The countless lawful gun owners of Texas are passionate about defending their rights, and we know that there will be constant attacks from the left to limit them. We will continue to reject that narrative and to work alongside our elected officials to pursue policies that increase safety by respecting liberty — including legislation that makes it easier for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their families from those who intend to harm them.

James Dickey

Chairman, Republican Party of Texas