Gerry Steckmyer and his wife awoke to a loud commotion and were shocked by what they saw out their bedroom window-a deranged man was shouting and jumping on the roof of their car. Police say that when Mr. Steckmyer opened the window and shouted at the man to get off the car, the man walked toward the house and started trying to break in. He kicked the home's front door and slammed his shoulder into it. Steckmyer repeatedly told the man to leave and warned that police were on the way, but there was no stopping the man's odd behavior. He grabbed a 5-gallon water cooler bottle, smashed in a window and entered the home. When the intruder neared the master bedroom, Steckmyer shot him with a handgun, killing him. (The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, CA, 12/18/06)
A 21-year-old man was eating pizza with his mother and a friend when someone knocked on the door. According to police, when the friend opened the door, two intruders burst inside and put a gun to his head. The man's mother sought refuge in a bedroom while he ran downstairs to retrieve a firearm. Confused, one of the intruders asked where everyone went, then said he'd kill anyone he found. In response to the threat, the 21-year-old reemerged, shooting and killing one intruder and causing his accomplice to flee. (Post Tribune, Merrillville, IN, 12/03/06)
Police say a 16-year-old gang member wearing a ski mask and toting a .22 rifle knocked on a front door north of Chicago one night. Inside, Saffiyya Darr and her husband called out to ask who it was, but got no reply. Several minutes later they heard a loud sound coming from their back door, and Darr ran to her bedroom to get a 9 mm pistol. When the suspect forced his way inside, she shot him twice. He died at the scene. "If you are sitting at home at night and someone kicks the door open, you have the right to defend yourself,” said Police Chief Douglas Malcolm. (Lake Country News-Sun, Waukegan, IL, 12/04/06)
There is a sign on Abel Sisneros' home warning, "Nothing inside is worth risking your life for. Owners of this property are highly skilled to protect life, liberty and property from criminal attacks.” Authorities, however, say an intruder failed to heed the warning. Sisneros heard a pounding at the front door and grabbed his 9 mm handgun as a precaution. He was at the top of the stairs when the suspect broke through the locked front door. Sisneros fired two shots. The wounded burglar groaned and ran to the back of the house until police arrested him. "He couldn't get out of the back [of the home], and he knew I was still in the front of the house, so he was trapped,” Sisneros explained. (The Fort-Worth Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, TX, 12/22/06)
Upon witnessing someone breaking into his neighbor's home, a man immediately called the couple who live there. Police say the couple immediately returned home and found the burglar inside trying to remove a television set. The male homeowner confronted the suspect, who drew a pocketknife and struck the homeowner's hand, cutting him. That's when the homeowner pulled a .22 pistol and fired two shots, wounding the intruder and causing him to flee. He was later apprehended. When a local reporter asked Knoxville, Tenn., policeman Mark Pressley the impertinent question of whether the couple would be charged in the incident, he replied, "They're kind of the innocent victims here. They've had enough problems.” (News Sentinel, Knoxville, TN, 12/30/06)
Police say a 17-year-old boy was home with his cousin when four armed men kicked in the door and started shooting. The teen rushed to grab his shotgun and fired at his assailants, killing two of them. The other suspects fled, but were later apprehended. "Truthfully, it was either them or me,” said the teen. "I'm thankful to be standing here today. I thank God.” (KHOU 11 News, Houston, TX, 12/28/06)
The ability of individual NRA members to convince others of the rightness of our cause always amplifies my faith in the real power of the NRA-you, your families and friends. The better we are informed, the better we can convince others. And sometimes those "others" are in the media, who in turn influence countless members of their audience. And when their message is clearly in support of the Second Amendment, it deserves repeating to yet others-in this case millions of others-the NRA membership.
My case is illustrated by a thoughtful January 9, 2007, piece in the Bucks County (Pa.) Courier Times by regular iconoclastic columnist J.D. Mullane headlined "Even Blue States Love Guns.” Mullane's revelations-and how they were inspired-are so important, they bear repeating at length.
Mullane opens by describing his initial suspicious reception at a gun show in the Philadelphia suburbs: "It didn't take the gun guys long to spot me wandering among the tables at the Gun and Knife Show in Bristol Township.
"Once confronted, I was certain I would be bounced from the place. To them, I am 'the media .. : Yet, they let me stay.”
Mullane said show organizer Bob Sarb told him, "Write whatever you want, but we never feel we get a fair shake from you people.”
"We chatted about law, order and gun rights. I told him I had been to Washington, D.C., last week to see the swearing in of the Congress and was in the company of many happy Democrats. Two were engaged in a lively discussion of gun rights.
"The pair concluded that the Second Amendment of the U.s. Constitution doesn't guarantee any Joe Six-pack the right to keep or bear arms. They agreed the Second Amendment is really about arming militias, that is, the government armed forces.”
Sarb's answer, Mullane reported, was that "They should look at Pennsylvania's Constitution and what it says about guns, because it is clear what we are guaranteed.”
"He quoted from article 21 of the Commonwealth's Constitution, which was drafted in 1790 when most of the Founding Fathers were still living: 'The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned:
Mullane admitted "I was unaware that the right to gun ownership in this state was so unambiguous.” As a result, "It made me wonder what other state constitutions ring as clear. I checked.
"Here's the red state of Texas: Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defense of himself or the State; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms, with a view to prevent crime.”
Then he sought out the "constitutions of the blue New England states? Certainly they would be as regulatory as Texas,” he wrote. He was surprised.
"Maine, Art. 1, Sec. 16: 'Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned:
"Vermont, Ch. I, Art. 16: 'That the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and the State .... '
"New Hampshire, Part I, Article 2a: 'All persons have the right to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves, their families, their property and the state:
"Connecticut, Art. I, Sec. 15: 'Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state:
"Rhode Island, Art. I, Sec. 22: 'The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed:
"Massachusetts, Pt. I, Art. 17: 'The people have a right to keep and to bear arms for the common defense:
Mullane's column is an extraordinarily clear refutation of one of the biggest lies in the arsenal of lies cached by the gun ban crowd: That the Second Amendment-nestled at the top of what the founders named, "The Bill of Rights,” which was guaranteed to individuals should be twisted into a "right" of government to arm itself. His citations of state Constitutions make it abundantly clear that keeping and bearing arms belongs to the people-each of us as individual citizens.
The power of persuasion of individual NRA members is remarkable. Perhaps Mullane's column would never had been written but for a very thoughtful answer by an NRA member to a wrong assumption.
With big national media seemingly in the pocket of the gun-ban crowd, it is easy to forget that much of the media in our nation is still localized and reachable.
With that in mind, I have instituted a blog based on a simple premise about the big media, "What they Didn't Tell You Today.” The new information you will find there daily is intended to help you convince others to separate the gun ban fiction from facts and give you grist for arguments for those who need exposure to the truth-especially local media. The Web address is www.nranews.com.
There were several recurring themes during my discussions with members of industry at this year's Shooting and Hunting Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show. NRA was there to showcase our shooting and hunting programs, highlight our legislative and political victories, and meet with friends in the firearm industry on matters of mutual concern.
One theme was the new challenges we face as gun owners and sportsmen in light of the dramatic changes in Congress. Leadership in the House and Senate has shifted from pro- to anti-Second Amendment. You've been reading about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her anti-gun allies, Charles Rangel, Rahm Emmanuel . and John Conyers. In the Senate, our old adversaries Ted Kennedy, Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton and Dianne Feinstein are increasingly working against the Second Amendment. These politicians are fiercely anti-gun, and they now wield tremendous power. With them in control, it will be extremely difficult to pass any proactive pro-gun legislation, like last year's Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.
In contrast to the anti-gun leadership, many of the newly-elected Democrat members of Congress campaigned on a pro-Second Amendment platform. We will soon see which of them will be true to their word. Over the next two years, we will count friends-and enemies-as issues relating to hunting and shooting come up for votes in Congress. That tally is critically important for the 2008 campaign for the White House, which is already underway.
Another subject of concern, that has been a central focus of our Executive Vice President, Wayne LaPierre, for several years now, is the ongoing effort by the anti-gun United Nations to ban conventional small arms-the type of firearms that you and I use for hunting, competition, recreational shooting and self-protection. With anti-gun leadership steering the new Congress, and without Ambassador John Bolton at the U.N. to protect our Constitution and Bill of Rights (his interim appointment ended without confirmation by the Senate), the U.N. forces believe that now is the time to advance their agenda to use international law and treaties to outlaw private firearm ownership in the United States. We must all keep a watchful eye on the U.N. and let our elected officials know that we will not tolerate any international legislation that compromises America's freedom.
Another recurring message in talking to industry was recruitment-how to attract new shooters and hunters to our sport, with particular emphasis on the next generation. If young people don't become passionate about the shooting sports and the Second Amendment, our cause will become extinct after a generation. And each and every one of those new shooters and hunters must be recruited to become NRA members.
Don't underestimate the power of a large and growing NRA membership. In politics, as in life, being big and strong has an enormous deterrent value. The more members NRA has, the bigger and stronger we are, the less likely it is that our enemies will want to take us on. And when they do-when we do fight for our freedoms, as NRA does across the country every day-the bigger and better informed our members are, the more likely it is that we will be victorious. We must start building NRA membership immediately, so that we have a large grassroots army trained and in place for the next election cycle.
Many of you reading this have friends who hunt and shoot but who are not NRA members. Some have neglected to renew their memberships; others have lame excuses for not joining at all. Either way, don't let your friends take advantage of you. As an NRA member, you are part of a grassroots army fighting for their rights. If they are your friends, they should stand beside. you and fight for your rights. Get them to join NRA today by going to www.nra.org and get as many of your family members and neighbors to join as well. If each of you reading this column recruited just one new NRA member over the next three months, we would have 8 million NRA members heading into 2008 and that would be a fearsome force. Make that your goal-one new NRA member in the next three months. Let me know when you've completed it by going to www.nrahq.org/contact.asp and sending me an e-mail.
I also spoke with members of industry about innovation and application of new technology to their businesses. Likewise, at NRA we've revolutionized our presence on the web at www.nra.org. Our new website portal is loaded with flash video, real-time information, pod casts and other features to give you the news you can use in the fight for freedom. Go there today to take a look, and stop by often to learn the truth the big media won't tell you.
NRA is facing a new spectrum of issues in a changed environment. We are evolving and adapting to meet these new challenges with cutting-edge technology while staying true to our core mission of protecting the Constitution and Bill of Rights. I'm proud to stand for the Second Amendment and proud to have you here beside me. There's a lot to do, so let's get to work.