Bradley Byrne: The Second Amendment must be protected

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Since I was a young boy, some of the most enjoyable time with my family has been spent hunting. My dad and I didn’t bond on a golf course, instead we bonded in the backwoods of Southwest Alabama. This is the same tradition I have enjoyed with my sons.

My family, like most families in Southwest Alabama, have always owned firearms. While we mainly use our weapons for hunting, there is also a basic interest in having firearms to help protect our family.

The right to keep and bear arms is a right given to every American in the Second Amendment of the Constitution. I am deeply concerned by any efforts in Washington that would restrict South Alabamians right to own a firearm.

For example, last week President Barack Obama announced that he would be taking a series of executive actions aimed at reducing gun violence. In reality, these actions would have little to no impact on reducing violence, but they would infringe on our Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Some of the most troubling parts of the president’s actions would make it harder for some Americans to buy and sell guns and would also bypass many of our privacy rights by making it easier for doctors to share medical information with the FBI. These actions fly in face of the Constitution.

Instead of pushing for new gun control measures, the president should be working with Congress on realistic solutions that would actually cut down on gun violence, like reforming our mental health system and preventing terrorists from entering our country.

Let’s look at the facts. In each of the recent mass shootings, every gun was acquired through a background check. Also, in most of the mass shootings, the gunmen suffered from mental illness. New gun laws wouldn’t have stopped these attacks, but mental health reform very well could have made a difference.

That’s why I am a proponent of mental health reform and not gun control. I am a proud co-sponsor of U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy’s bill, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. This common-sense legislation would fix our mental health system and ensure that Americans with mental health issues can get the care and services they need.

I didn’t hear the president mention Congressman Murphy’s bill or bipartisanship in his speech last week. That makes me wonder if the President really wants to solve gun violence in our country. Instead, I think he is simply looking for another debate that divides our country and panders to far-left political groups.

Fighting back against the president’s executive action is also about more than just the Second Amendment. It is also about standing up to an out-of-control president who thinks he can just change the law through unilateral executive actions. That’s simply not how our government works.

For seven years now, Congress has rejected the president’s efforts to restrict the Second Amendment right of law-abiding Americans. We have rejected his efforts because they don’t actually solve any problems. Just because we disagree, that doesn’t give the president the authority to go around Congress.

He has tried to do this in the past, especially as it relates to immigration law, and federal courts have stopped his executive actions because they violates our Constitution. I expect the same will happen with this latest executive action.

One day in the future, I look forward to continuing a proud family tradition by hunting with my new grandson, MacGuire. This tradition will endure because I, and many of my colleagues in Washington, will continue to stand up and defend the Second Amendment. Our efforts will prevail, just as the Second Amendment has prevailed throughout our nation’s history.

Bradley Byrne is a member of the U.S. Congress representing Alabama’s 1st Congressional District.

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