By Nancy Keaton
Former NRA President, David Keene, has co-authored a book called Shall Not Be Infringed: The New Assaults on your Second Amendment. In addition to political consultant, former Presidential advisor, and newspaper editor, Keene was recently named the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Second Amendment Foundation at the Gun Rights Policy Council in Tampa, FL, on September 24. We took the opportunity to chat with him for a few minutes to find out more about his book and its importance in educating gun owners about what is at stake this election cycle.
Nancy Keaton: Why do you think it’s important to write the book at this time?
David Keene: The main reason I wanted to write this book is that this year, in this election, the Second Amendment is on the table in a way it hasn’t been for a hundred years. The candidates are running at a time when the Supreme Court has vacancies, and the next president will be able to determine whether American citizens have the constitutional right to bear arms.
This book is not just about the election, but about new kinds of threats including on the international scene. I was a delegate during the Bush administration to the United Nations during discussions about the Arms Trade Treaty. Even Canada refused to sign it because even they felt that it would interfere with their citizen’s right to bear arms, and they don’t even have a Second Amendment.
It’s very important for people to understand where we are. Hillary Clinton has said that the District of Columbia et al v. Heller a Supreme Court ruling that affirmed a person’s right to keep a firearm in his or her home for personal protection, was wrong. One would expect if she is president her choice for a Supreme Court justice would reverse, qualify, or remove a person’s right to defend themselves.
The differences of practicing the right to self-defense were recently noted by two incidents in two different states. In Illinois, the politicians pride themselves on being anti-gun. Thugs broke into a house and ending up killing a homeowner climbing out of his own window who died on his own front lawn. In Georgia, a woman was home when thugs broke into her house. She had a gun and one of the thugs died on her front lawn. That is the difference with the right to protect yourself, whether it is you that dies on your lawn or the thug.
NK: What are the takeaways you hope readers get from your book?
DK: What I hope people understand from my book is that there have been various times when firearms rights were under attack. The first time was during Reconstruction, after the Civil War. It was one thing to free slaves but another to let them have guns. Then during the 1930’s more laws were enacted because of mob wars. Then again in the 1960’s because of unrest and the spike in crime at that time.
Now liberals want to change everything fundamentally. They don’t like gun ownership because it symbolizes self-reliance and an America that these people would like to change. They want gun ownership to be unacceptable. Before Eric Holder was attorney general he said that we have to do the same thing with guns that we did with cigarettes. We have to change the culture to make them socially unacceptable.
So far, gun controllers haven’t been very successful because every time they try to pass a law that is supposed to reduce crime or school shootings, they get asked one question by gun advocates – “Let’s assume those restrictions were in place. Would they have prevented the shooting from happening?” And the answer is always no.
I think that deep within the DNA of Americans is a belief that a free population needs to be armed. Most people don’t realize that the fight that set off the American Revolution was when the British wanted to take all the arms and ammunition so that they could continue to control. But that created an appreciation of, and connection to, firearms and freedom that still continues today.
When the “assault weapon ban” passed in the 1990’s with Bill Clinton as president, it was easy for him to do because very few people owned an AR. No one really cared that much. Today about 4 ½ million people own them. When that many people own something it’s much harder to ban them.
Another tactic of the gun control crowd is try to divide hunters from shooters from collectors from other gun owners. That worked in the 90’s. This time when Obama tried to demonize the NRA and drive a wedge between different kinds of gun owners and sportsmen, it didn’t work. This became very clear when a British company in charge of one of the largest gun shows in the country decided three days before it opened to forbid any display of AR’s. Within a couple of days the entire show collapsed. The boating community, archery shooters, etc., sent a message that this time they were not going to be able to be divided. The collapse of that show killed that wave of gun control.
NK: How does all this affect women?
DK: Most women believe that they have the right to defend themselves. More women than ever are buying guns. I was president of the NRA from 2011-2013 and we saw the greatest growth in membership of women. Gun shows have reported that ten years ago about 8% of attendees were women. That has now grown to 40% as women are appreciating more and more the right and ability to protect themselves. Guns have been called “The Great Equalizer” and women know they at least stand a chance against a larger, stronger man if they are threatened. They will lose that chance if the gun control crowd has their way.
NK: What steps can we take?
DK: Buy my book to learn about the history of gun control and what is happening now. And then go out and vote.
Keene’s book, Shall Not Be Infringed: The New Assaults on Your Second Amendment is available on Amazon (to be released October 11, available for pre-order now.)