Amid the nonstop sound of gunfire from practice rounds in firing lanes on the other side of the wall from where he spoke, U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-8th District) delivered a ringing endorsement of gun rights Monday night, speaking to members of the Northeast Shelby Republican Club at Range USA.
During a question-and-answer period following his brief prepared remarks, Fincher was asked for his views on gun issues by Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland, whose “Second Amendment Preservation Resolution,” intended to “prevent Federal infringement on the right to keep and bear arms,” will be voted on by the Commission at its Monday night meeting.
Fincher responded, “You saw a couple of weeks ago gun control could not get passed through the Senate? We’re very clear in the House what’s going to happen to gun control. It’s going nowhere….The Second Amendment’s not about hunting. It’s not about shooting for sport. It’s about protecting yourself from who? The government!….We’re not taking the guns. It’s not going to happen, not as long as I’m up there and I’ve got a vote.”
The congressman could hardly have chosen a more apt location to make such a statement, nor, to judge from the hearty and prolonged applause he got, a more appreciative audience to hear it.
The Bartlett facility, as Martha Montgomery of Range USA explained to attendees before the event, contains two ranges, the larger of which, with 14 lanes, was separated from the canteen area where the meeting was being held by a wall. Activity over there could not be seen, because, as Montgomery said, the wall had “cardboard in the windows.”
Constant gunfire could be heard, however, from the invocation and pledge of allegiance through to the very end of the meeting — confirmation that, as Montgomery said, the facility’s lanes “are always open to the public,” and instructional opportunities abound, including free clinics held there by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department.
Continuing to make his case against the utility of new gun restrictions, Fincher referred to last December’s Newton massacre and asked, “How many laws did that boy break already? What about baseball bats? What about box cutters?” Roland suggested “pressure cookers,” and Fincher added that term on. “Pressure cookers!”
There were even Democrats voting against President Obama’s recently failed background-check legislation, Fincher said. “When you do a good job of messaging, it works.”
For much of the Q-and-A session, Fincher attempted to satisfy the wishes of some of the more conservative members of his audience without necessarily accepting their solutions. Asked about impeaching Attorney General Eric Holder, for example, Fincher said, “We’ve done everything short of impeachment,” and urged the attendees to accomplish their ends at the grass-roots level via elections.
“The American people elected President Obama. I don’t know how, but they did,” he said. “We’ve got to have good candidates.”
Fincher urged his listeners, “without surrendering our principles, “ to practice a sort of political moderation: “Our party, the conservative party more than the Republican Party, we’ve got to be the party of including people, not condemning people. Whether it’s immigration reform, whether it’s pro-life issues, or even, we talk a lot today about gay rights issues — every time we talk about these issues, we divide the country….We’ve got to be the party that cares about folks and doesn’t condemn.”
He even suggested they take Fox News, the preferred broadcast outlet of conservatives, with a grain of salt. “They’re entertainers” who offered their share of “spin,” he said. “Be very cautious, whatever the news organization.”
But the congressman did not shy away from some firm-sounding ideological statements. He noted that he had bucked GOP House Speaker John Boehner on the fiscal-cliff deal reached early this year. And on terrorism, he said, “These are not radical Baptists or radical Methodists doing this. These are radical Islamists.”
“The Constitution and the Bible are our guiding documents,” he said.
A member of the House banking committee, Fincher denounced the quasi-governmental lending agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and predicted, “In our committee, we’re going to do away with Fannie and Freddie.”
Fincher vowed to take a firm stand against any more government “bail-outs,” but suggested that Republicans might cease futile efforts to repeal “Obamacare,” the Affordable Care Act, and let it be implemented, “so people can see what’s happening.”
In concluding, Fincher returned to the idea of inclusiveness. Ultimately, the congressman said, “Democrats, Republicans, Independents, we’re all in this boat together. And if we push people away, we won’t win.”