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Area officials voice support for gun rights during rally

Area officials voice support for gun rights during rally
Longview News Journal
Sunday, March 24, 2013 - 12:57pm

By Richard Yeakley

On the 238th anniversary of Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death” speech, Longview elected officials voiced staunch support for gun rights.

Texas Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, Gregg County Sheriff Maxey Cerliano, Longview Mayor Jay Dean, and District 5 Councilman Richard Manley took to the microphone Saturday to ensure those gathered for a Right to Bear Arms rally of their dedication to defend East Texans’ rights to buy and own guns.

“The Second Amendment is black and white. There is no need to change it or to allow its literal definition to be co-opted by those that would seek to take away that right,” said Manley, who identified himself to the gathering as a card-carrying member of the National Rifle Association.Manley also said he has a Texas permit to carry a concealed weapon.

After a fiery speech by Tyler resident Shane Dyson to open the rally, Simpson took the stage, connecting the rally and its significance to Patrick Henry’s famous speech to the Virginia convention on March 23, 1775.

That speech helped unite Virginia during the prelude to the Revolutionary War. Henry called for the men of Virginia to be armed to defend their rights, Simpson said. And the need to be armed to prevent tyranny, Simpson said, was as serious as ever.

“Gun control is about power. Is power only going to reside in the hands of the government, a standing army, the police and the ruling elite, or is that power going to reside among all the people?” Simpson asked. “To a Texan, an order to give up your weapons is a call to arms. Thankfully, our present government has not yet made such a command, but it may.”

Cerliano addressed concerns about potential weapons seizures in the future. The first vice president of the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas, Cerliano said he and every Texas sheriff were committed to defending both the national and state constitutions and would not, by their oath, enforce laws that go against either document.

He pointed to a statement agreed to by the association’s executive board, of which he is a member.

“Every Texas sheriff, upon assuming their office, took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the great state of Texas,” Cerliano read from the statement. “Of course, the sheriffs of Texas are committed to uphold their oath of office. It goes without saying that Texas sheriffs recognize that Amendment II of the Constitution provides that ‘the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed’ and that Amendment IV provides that ‘the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.’ ”

The subject of gun control was pushed to the forefront of national conversation by the December massacre of 20 students and six educators with a semi-automatic rifle at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

After the tragedy, members of Congress called for renewed inspection of how to prevent such situations. Some are arguing primarily for gun control and gun bans, while others are calling for plans addressing environmental factors, mental health care and the ability of armed law-abiding citizens to defend themselves.

Dean, who wrapped up the rally, moved the discussion past gun control to question an overall view of government that he said transcended guns while being central to the debate.

Too often, he said, the deeds of a few lead to legislative overreaction that harms everyone.

“I think it is a much bigger thing. It’s not just firearms,” Dean said, to cheers from the crowd. “It’s taxes, it’s transportation, it’s education. It is everything that they want to do to run our lives for us. But we know how to run our lives. The best thing to do is just leave us alone and quit trying to come up with programs because a few people do bad things.”

Louis Hobbs, one of about 50 who braved a breezy, cool morning to take part in the rally, said he was inspired by seeing leaders take a stand for gun rights.

“I think we are blessed with their representation,” he said. “I think it inspires you. It gives me faith to continue to strive to uphold important ideals.”

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