Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, addressed the National Rifle Association’s general meeting this afternoon, and delivered a passionate defense of both the Second and First Amendments. Informing the audience that he was a “proud lifetime member of the NRA,” McConnell suggested that the biggest risk that the gun-control movement currently poses is to privacy. “Look at what we saw in New York a little over a year ago,” he told the crowd, “when a newspaper published an interactive map of government data containing the names and addresses of law-abiding citizens with firearm permits.” In order to protect “the personal information of private gun owners,” McConnell explained, he had “supported legislation in the Senate last year that aims to prevent this kind of thing from happening again.” That legislation “would sanction any state or local government that publicly releases the personal information of private gun owners.” He wasn’t sure if it would pass.
McConnell also praised the number of jobs that the firearms industry is sustaining. “There are hundreds of Kentucky jobs generated by the firearms industry,” he confirmed. “I hope our vibrant Second Amendment culture results in even more job creation.”
Later, the senator touched on broader questions of constitutional integrity, reminding the crowd of his strong First Amendment record. “We’re here to talk about the Constitution,” he said. “And my message to you today is this: the Bill of Rights does not come a la carte. It’s not a pick and choose menu . . . despite what some in Washington may think.” That “some” in question was “the current Administration,” and, McConnell suggested, they “see things differently.” The Obama administration, he contended, has “betrayed a really nasty side,” trying “to curb the rights of those they disagree with, whether it’s your right to bear arms or whether it’s your right to speak up without fear of government intimidation” and revealing “again and again how determined it is to shut up its critics” — people whose only “sin” is “advocating for causes in which they believe,” and “promoting things like the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”
“If you believe in the Constitution,” McConnell reasoned, “you defend all of it — not just the parts that happen to be popular at Washington cocktail parties. That’s the oath we take. That’s the charge we’re entrusted to keep.” But, he suggested, the “IRS targeting scandal showed just how determined the enemies of free speech really are. It was the kind of thing you’d expect from a banana republic, not the freest nation on Earth — which is exactly why people were so shocked by it.”
McConnell finished with a promise to push back. “We know we’re on the right side here,” he told the audience, “so let’s keep fighting for all of our constitutional freedoms — the First Amendment, and the Second Amendment, and the full array of rights and liberties our Constitution guarantees.
“The Founders would expect us to do no less,” he said. “And I know we’ll ultimately prevail.”