U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., is leading a “sit-in” on the House floor that he hopes will force a vote to restrict gun sales but conservatives say he has betrayed his own ideals of civil rights and liberties for all Americans.
Lewis, 76, was one of the original black civil-rights leaders who marched in Birmingham, Atlanta and cities across the South with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s, fighting for equal access to public facilities for black Americans.
When an NBC News reporter asked Lewis what rights he was fighting for now, he responded: “We are fighting for the rights of people to live without fear.”
The reference was to mass shootings, the latest of which was carried out June 12 in Orlando by Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old Muslim born in New York to immigrants from Afghanistan.
But gun owners say Lewis is being less than honest and fails to see the irony of his actions. What he’s really doing is fighting to take away the civil rights of law-abiding citizens to own guns and protect themselves from jihadists like Mateen, a right enshrined in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Among the measures Lewis and the Democrats are seeking is a ban on gun sales to Americans who are placed on the federal government’s terrorist “watch list.”
Jerry Henry, executive director of GeorgiaCarry.org, said that’s a bad idea because the watch list is arbitrary and secretive.
A constitutional republic doesn’t add citizens to a “secret list” thereby banning them from enjoying the rights of others without a jury trial.
There have been babies and self-proclaimed pacifists added to the FBI watch list by mistake, Henry said. And once you are on it, it’s often a lengthy appeal process to try to get your name removed.
“In this country you don’t get to take someone’s rights away without due process,” Henry said.
While Capitol Hill Democrats staged their symbolic “sit-in” to demand action on new gun restrictions, the Bellevue, Washington-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms issued a statement saying these lawmakers demonstrate by their actions how far their party has strayed from the ideals of liberty their predecessors stood for.
“Democrats in the 1960s used sit-ins to expand constitutional rights,” CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb said. “But today, they are using a sit-in to restrict those same civil rights.”
While Democrats professed to be interested in curbing gun-related violence, Gottlieb said, their true motives are aimed more at eroding not only firearms rights, but the right of due process.
Gottlieb says the sit-in is a carefully-choreographed attempt to fool the public into believing that it is right to pass legislation to strip someone of their rights without any criminal charge, much less a conviction, by placing them on a secret “watch list” without benefit of due process.
“Their party no longer represents the ideals of a free society,” Gottlieb said. “Democrats who are participating in this exhibition think they symbolize the frustration of American citizens. What they’re really symbolizing is the fact that they have been sitting down on the job rather than addressing the genuine threat of worldwide terrorism that has once again erupted in this country while Democrat Barack Obama sits in the Oval Office.
Distracting the public
Instead of demanding direct action against dangerous Islamic extremists,” Gottlieb continued, “they’re distracting the public by pushing gun control measures that they know would not have prevented Orlando, Boston or San Bernardino. But it creates the deceptive impression that they are doing something, when in fact they are doing less than nothing by trying to penalize the wrong people.”
While Democrats say the “common denominator” of all mass shootings is guns, Henry and other Second Amendment advocates say the true common denominator is “gun free zones.”
Henry said he didn’t think the measure would pass because most Americans are smart enough to see through the propaganda. They know that anymore bans or background checks would not have stopped the Orlando shooting by a radical Islamist.
The irony of it all
Henry noted that it was ironic the Democrats are holding a “sit in” on the House floor, reminiscent of the GOP sit in of 2008 over an oil drilling bill. When it was the GOP holding the sit in, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats called it a “stunt.”
“This is the people’s House,” Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich., told Politico at the time. “This is not Pelosi’s politiburo.”
Democratic aides were furious at the GOP “stunt,” and reporters were kicked out of the Speaker’s Lobby, the space next to the House floor where they normally interview lawmakers, Politico reported.
“You’re not covering this, are you?” complained one senior Democratic aide. Another called the Republicans “morons” for staying on the floor.
But now the tables are turned.
‘Soft on terrorism, hard on gun owners’
Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, which has endorsed Donald Trump for president, sent out an action alert to its members after the Orlando jihad attack reminding them that Democrats would be “soft on terrorism and hard on gun owners.” He also warned that “Some Republicans may cave.”
“The Democrat congressional sit-in is more dramatic than the Republican response to Orlando, but equally irrelevant,” Pratt told WND. “Neither party wishes to deal with the 800-pound gorilla in the room – the gun-free zones where virtually all public massacres in the U.S. take place.”
Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, where Mateen gunned down 49 people and injured 53, was a gun-free zone, other than one armed security guard who remained outside the club to call for backup after he traded fire with Mateen.
“It was gun-free at least for the victims,” Pratt said.
Many states provide for concealed carry where alcohol is served, he said.
In Virginia, for example, the person carrying concealed is not supposed to be consuming alcohol.
“Interestingly, in Switzerland, alcohol is served where machine guns are in use in national civilian competitions,” Pratt said. “Earlier this year an Ohio bartender with a concealed carry permit shot and killed an enraged customer who had been kicked out but returned shooting his gun. Good thing the bartender was not working in Orlando.”
Gottlieb said the Democrats’ stunt was “an insult to many of us that participated in sit-in demonstrations to extend civil rights a generation ago”
“Many of us were armed to protect participants from the Ku Klux Klan and other bigots,” Gottlieb said. “We were also armed with the facts, something that today’s gun prohibitionists know little about. This demonstration is a disgrace, but today’s crop of Democrats don’t seem to care.”