Right to life was among the main issues at Monday evening’s Sweet Freedom Celebration, hosted by Holt for House campaign, but it was the Second Amendment – the right to bear arms - that was broached first.
District Rep. Steve Holt (R-Denison) said he had been inundated in the 24 hours before the event with media requests to cancel this year’s event (it was the seventh annual).
Two days before the Sweet Freedom Celebration, a mass shooting had taken place at an El Paso, Texas, Walmart - 22 people were killed - and the day before the event, nine were killed in a shooting in Dayton, Ohio.
The Holt for House event took place in the classroom/meeting room at the Crawford County Shooting Sports range located east of Denison. In addition, those who attended had the opportunity to try on two firearms and fire them on the range after paying $25 to a representative of Foxhole Armament, of Harlan, who had a display of weapons on hand.
In response to the requests to cancel the event, Holt responded, “I will not and I could not disagree more with that idea.”
He characterized attacks on Second Amendment rights as a continuation of a decline of morals in the nation.
“I know our thoughts and prayers go out to the families, friends and victims of these vile acts along with our deepest gratitude and respect for those heroic first responders who bravely ended the carnage,” Holt said.
He charged that those who seek to destroy the Second Amendment will use the shootings as a reason to take away the right to keep and bear arms.
“The very people who now cry for the destruction of the Second Amendment advance an ideology that is at the core of our nation’s moral decay,” he later added.
“It is a loss of our value system brought about in part by far-left ideology that pulled typical values from our schools, the media and the public that brought our nation to this point, not the Second Amendment.”
The issue is not the gun but the character of the person holding it, he continued.
“Law-abiding citizens do not commit these heinous acts and we must fight now more than ever for our Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms,” Holt said. “If America really wants to get serious these tragic attacks, then let us address the decay of the values on which our nation was founded.”
Turning to right to life, Holt quoted the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator by certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
“The fight is far from over,” he added.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, a guest speaker at the event, called for prayers for the victims of the shootings and their families and friends.
“Only someone consumed by hatred could commit theses despicable acts that we saw in Ohio and Texas,” he said. “The hate and the lack of respect for the sanctity of human life that led to these attacks has no place in America.”
Grassley continued that it is the responsibility of Americans to condemn bigotry and hatred and said those responsible for the acts of violence should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Grassley spoke about mistrust between gun rights activists, Second Amendment followers and those who favor gun control.
“That’s led to a stalemate that’s made it difficult,” he said, adding that the disagreements won’t go away soon.
“But tonight we talk about something we should be able to agree on,” he continued. “We as a society must be better equipped to recognize the warning signs that almost always precede these tragedies.”