View Full Version : Meet the congressman who wants to protect your 2nd Amendment rights

01-23-2017, 11:49 AM


Rep. Massie proudly sports this bumper sticker on the back of his car.

In the final days of the 114th Congress, while most members were looking to end the last session of the Obama era, Congressman Thomas Massie, R-Ky. (A, 94%) was looking toward the 115th Congress, the Trump presidency, and the need for a knowledgeable voice on Second Amendment concerns.

Rep. Massie revived the Second Amendment Caucus, which had been spearheaded by former Georgia Rep. Paul Broun but had atrophied in Brounís absence the past two years.

Massie sat down with Conservative Review to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment Caucus, what its legislative priorities are, and the importance of gun rights to the American identity. Below is a transcript of his interview with Conservative Review, edited for length and clarity.

How did you first become interested in Second Amendment issues?

I got my first gun when I was 12 years old, and that was a rite of passage where I grew up in Kentucky. My dad took me hunting with it and I learned that this gun actually kills things, and when it happens itís not pretty. I learned the awesome responsibility that comes with owning a gun.

When I was 18, I went to school in Massachusetts [Massachusetts Institute of Technology], and I realized there were actually people on the face of this planet that wanted to ban guns. I had heard about them but hadnít met one. And now I was surrounded by them. It blew their mind that I had a gun when I was 12 years old. They would break out in hives to see a gun, and they couldnít believe someone would give a 12-year-old a gun. So it was like taking a hot piece of steel and putting it in cold water. It forged me on this issue. Second Amendment issues were what really got me interested in politics. I started paying attention to politicians, what their position was on the Second Amendment, and how they parsed their words on the Second Amendment.

Why start a Second Amendment Caucus now?

Some things catalyzed here in the last six months that really made it obvious we needed to do it. First, Trump won. Second, the Democrats staged a sit-in on the House floor last summer. The speaker [Paul Ryan] seemed amenable to bringing some very light gun control to the floor for a vote after that. I was concerned we were going to deprive people of their Second Amendment rights without due process.

So those were a couple of the reasons why I formed this caucus. I saw a voice missing in the House ó a pro-Second Amendment voice to counteract the whims of congressmen when they feel the political winds blowing. The winds were blowing strongly last summer and our leadership wasnít willing to say, ďNope, weíre not bringing these things to the floor.Ē

Our leadership felt the political pressure of the upcoming November elections and literally told us in conference that those members who are in difficult districts, ďweíll get you a vote on this so you can go back home over August and be safe because you got a vote on [gun control].Ē

No! Thatís a bad idea. Giving four to six people political cover in exchange for giving up part of the Second Amendment is not OK. Because our leadership was willing to do that, I thought we needed a voice of authority in the House to speak on these issues when they come up.

What are the legislative priorities of the caucus?

Well, I want to build consensus and listen to the membership about what our legislative priorities should be. I want the caucus to have informal hearings on bills. There is a lot of pro-Second Amendment legislation in the hopper. But the entire time Iíve been here weíve never had a hearing on one of those bills, which prevents us from improving the legislation, overcoming objections, and gaining cosponsors.

In a way, a caucus can serve as an informal committee. So Iíd expect weíll look at the Hearing Protection Act, national reciprocity bills, and bill to repeal the Gun-Free School Zones Act, among other legislation.

One of the things on my mind is that I remember talking to [Justice] Antonin Scalia once about the incorporation doctrine ó about whether the Bill of Rights applies to the states or not. Liberals use it happily to advance their agenda at the state level but I think conservatives are more hesitant because of statesí rights. Thereís a balance here, and thatís one of the things weíll talk about in the caucus Ö about how to address that.

What did Scalia say?

[Justice Scalia] understood concerns about the incorporation doctrine, but he didnít think you would go back and unravel all of the precedents. He thought it was a settled issue and you had to move forward, whereas Justice [Clarence] Thomas might be more aggressive in undoing previous rulings he thought were wrong.

But the incorporation doctrine is definitely something that has a lot of momentum now in jurisprudence. Iím torn on the issue myself. Itís sad, but in California you get the government you elected, and thereís really horrible infringements on the right to keep and bear arms there. But the question is: Do states have the right to do that? I think the best answer is when a state legislature comes to realize that its people are less safe under onerous gun restrictions than they would be if they were allowed to carry guns more freely.

Has your opinion on Second Amendment issues changed since youíve been in Congress? Have the bureaucratic minutiae changed the way you think about gun legislation?

My view on the Second Amendment hasnít changed, but Iíve been shocked to find how little time or attention the Republican caucus has paid to this issue. Republican leadership seems not to want to give us a vote on pro-gun legislation. Maybe thatís because there are some legislators in the conference who would be put in a difficult situation in more blue districts.

For most people in Kentucky, Second Amendment issues are one of their top three priorities. When I came to Congress, I realized we havenít even had a vote ever on the Second Amendment. So, in four years, an issue that is in the top three for many of my constituents has never even been discussed, debated, or voted on with the exception of the one time I got this issue to the floor through a parliamentary procedure. And 20 Democrats voted for it.

I think when you go on the offensive and offer something pro-gun, there are still Democrats that are with us on this. I believe that.

In your mind, is the Second Amendment primarily about self-defense from robbers and thieves or more about defense against tyranny? Thereís also a lot of debate about what the term ďmilitiaĒ means. What do you think it really means?

In my opinion, the Second Amendment is not about duck hunting. Itís not even about protecting yourself from a mugging, unless the mugger is your government. Itís about protecting yourself from a government thatís gone off the rails.

The militia is every able-bodied person in the country. Some people would try to tell you, ďOh, itís just the National Guard.Ē But if you look back at what the Founding Fathers meant, they didnít mean for the government to have guns or for people to have government-issued guns; they meant for the people to have guns. Iím actually glad they put that clause in there, because that tells me that theyíre talking about weapons capable of challenging a tyrannical government ó not a target pistol, or shotguns. I think thatís how you know that the AR-15 fits into the definition of the Second Amendment. I mean, youíre not going to defend a free state with a shotgun. I would though, if thatís all I had.

Do you think the idea of the Second Amendment was something we inherited from the British, or something uniquely American?

I think what prompted it to be in the Bill of Rights as No. 2 instead of No. 10 is that it was fresh in their memory that they had just taken up arms against their government. They knew that for any legitimate government ó i.e. government that rules through consent of the people ó that the people would actually have to be armed to ensure that consent.

I think it is uniquely American in concept. But our Founding Fathers borrowed their ideas from philosophers everywhere. They were well read. The right to self-defense they believed fundamentally was a God-given right. They werenít the first ones with that notion, but they were definitely the first ones to say weíre founding a government based on this concept that the people can be armed, not just the king.

So in other words, the Founding Fathers viewed this as a natural right, and not just a contrived legal convention?

Correct. And Iím sure they found evidence that it was natural right in all their readings of philosophy. But the fact that they would guarantee it shows that the people were in charge of setting up this government ó not the king.

Itís no mistake that the United Nations is so anti-gun. Most of its membership is dictators and tyrants who have no vested interest in their people having the ability to overthrow an illegitimate government.

Whatís the most important thing for Americans to know about the Second Amendment?

The Second Amendment safeguards the entire Bill of Rights. If you take out the Second Amendment, itís not possible to safeguard the other nine.

01-23-2017, 12:35 PM
Beat me to it! Front page.

01-23-2017, 03:11 PM
I'm curious what car that is. I have never heard of Cobra (not sure if the model or the maker). The styling we can see looks 80s-ish to me...but I'm no expert. Others here probably know and can inform me. Regardless, I get a kick out the idea that he has an older car like that and keeps it going.

01-23-2017, 10:29 PM
I'm curious what car that is. I have never heard of Cobra (not sure if the model or the maker). The styling we can see looks 80s-ish to me...but I'm no expert. Others here probably know and can inform me. Regardless, I get a kick out the idea that he has an older car like that and keeps it going.

That's a fox body Cobra (Ford Mustang,) made only in 1993. I don't know if that's actually Rep. Massie's car as I've only seen him in a Tesla and a Suburban, but it wouldn't surprise me if he had an old Fox Cobra too.

Anti Federalist
01-24-2017, 02:20 PM
That's a fox body Cobra (Ford Mustang,) made only in 1993. I don't know if that's actually Rep. Massie's car as I've only seen him in a Tesla and a Suburban, but it wouldn't surprise me if he had an old Fox Cobra too.