A picture of Representative Chris Stewart
Chris S.
Republican UT 2

About Rep. Chris
  • Gop Freshman Class Hour: The Second Amendment

    by Representative Chris Stewart

    Posted on 2013-03-04

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    STEWART. I thank the gentleman from Indiana for yielding his time.

    I had the great blessing of growing up on a family farm. I know what it's like as a kid to be so excited to go hunting with my brothers and with my father that you can't sleep the night before. I also had the great privilege of serving for 14 years as a pilot and an officer in the United States Air Force. There I learned a little bit about defending our Nation through an adequate show of force. I also, by the way, qualified as an expert marksman in small arms.

    Recent and saddening events of violence have brought conversations about guns to the national stage. These acts of violence, as terrible as they are, should not be used by the White House as justification to revoke the rights outlined in our Constitution.

    The Second Amendment clearly states that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Our Founding Fathers created this amendment to protect the citizens from government tyranny. In 2008, the Supreme Court emphatically stated that the right to bear arms is an individual right. Today, it continues to ensure Americans' right to defend themselves against the evil in the world.

    Based on a survey as recently as 2000, U.S. civilians do use guns to protect themselves and others from crime at least 990,000 times a year--almost 1 million times a year. It's critical that we continue to protect this personal and absolute right.

    While gun-related violence is indeed tragic--and we all know that it is; as my friend, the gentleman from Indiana, has so eloquently stated, we bleed for those who suffer from this--it's important to note that it only accounts for a small portion of the violent crimes that are committed in the United States.

    As an example, the U.S. Department of Justice has said that of the roughly 5 million violent crimes committed in the United States during 2008, only 8 percent were committed by offenders who visibly were armed with a gun. Most of those crimes were committed with guns that were already illegal. Even the U.S. Justice Department conducted a survey in the 1990s and found that approximately 79 percent of the State prison inmates that carried a firearm during an offense that sent them to jail received their gun either through an illegal source or from one of their friends or family.

    Stricter laws to ban guns will not solve any of these problems. We already have many laws in place; but instead of creating new and harsher laws, we need to do a better job of enforcing the gun laws that we currently have.

    Finally, let me say this: I believe that the timing of this proposal and these bills, it just isn't right. At a time when sequestration just went into effect and our country is on a path towards bankruptcy, it's unacceptable that the White House continues to push its gun control agenda.

    We need to be focusing on getting our country back on a path of fiscal sanity. We need the President and his administration to show leadership. We need to ensure that America maintains its leadership role in the world. To do that, we need to budget and to spend responsibly. We need to replace President Obama's sequester--and it is this President's sequester--with commonsense spending cuts and reforms.

    Most importantly, we need the President to demonstrate an understanding of the Nation's need to balance our budget and get us back on a path towards fiscal sanity. That is the great fight of our day. That is the great challenge that we are facing.

    My heart bleeds for the victims of gun violence--whether they're in Newtown or in New York or in my home district--but the President's proposals will not help.

    {time} 1920 They aren't designed to address the core problems of mental health or a culture that is steeped in violence, violence that is thrust upon our children through media that are bent upon making more money through the violence that they propagate. Mr. Speaker, let's concentrate our attention on the greatest challenge of our day, not on a Band-Aid of additional laws that are designed to do nothing but to make some liberals feel better.

    To the gentleman from Indiana, I yield back and thank you for this opportunity to address the House.

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