This week, Representative Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) sent a letter to the anti-gun Brady Campaign’s acting President Dennis Henigan in response to a previous Brady Campaign release regarding the Congressman’s statements from an October 3, 2011 letter. In this week’s letter, Rep. Walsh was very critical of Brady Campaign’s release, saying “In your response to my recent letter, you have once again drawn false and illogical conclusions from my statements.”
The Brady release said, in part, “Rep. Walsh recently argued that concealed carry of loaded guns should be legalized in Illinois because the Second Amendment is 'the last line of defense between us and our government.' When I suggested he ought to explain why his words should not be read as a thinly veiled justification for violence against government officials, the Congressman responded to me with a letter that is nothing but an exercise in misdirection and obfuscation. The letter is a dutiful repetition of gun lobby talking points, but not once does it explain, or even refer to, Walsh's earlier statement that guns are ‘the last line of defense between us and our government.’”
Rep. Walsh, like anyone else who looks at the issue honestly, understands that recognizing the historical basis for the Second Amendment doesn’t imply overthrowing today’s government. However, surely, groups like the Brady Campaign can’t believe it would be illegitimate to resist tyranny in Hitler’s Germany, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, or more recently, Qaddafi’s Libya.
In his letter to the Brady Campaign this week, Walsh said, “I stand by my original statement, that the Second Amendment—now, and as originally intended—is the last line of defense between us and a tyrannical government. As James Madison wrote, it is this ‘advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation.’ Your sensationalist characterization of my statements as an encouragement of ‘resistance by force’ or to ‘engage in violent acts against government officials’ is not only a gross exaggeration, but also reveals your misunderstanding of American history and rhetoric.”
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Rep. Walsh went on to say, “But securing the rights of the people against a tyrannical government is not the only reason that the Second Amendment remains what I believe is the most important amendment. In fact, securing the freedom of the people to bear arms was understood from the beginning of our nation to include not just protecting liberty and the people collectively, but to also include an individual’s right to self-defense.”
Rep. Walsh closed his letter, saying “I hope that in the future, when you evaluate my remarks, you will consider the obvious: that we both have significantly different views of gun ownership and the rights guaranteed in that regard—but we need not exaggerate or contort those views in order to engage one another in political discourse.”
In a November 8 statement, Rep. Walsh said, “There has been a back and forth between myself and the Brady Campaign concerning the importance of gun rights and how they are being disregarded, particularly in Illinois. I stand by my original statements and want to give more detail and clarification in order to avoid further misinterpretation.”
Walsh concluded, “I believe in our democratic process and proudly serve as a Representative because of it. I believe in the rule of law, and the ability of our citizenry to effectively address our grievances within that rule of law.”
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To view Rep. Walsh’s statement, please click here.
To view Rep. Walsh’s recent letter sent to the Brady Campaign, please click here.