COMMENTARY: Legislators receptive to NRA just ‘doing their job’

Saturday’s (March 10) edition of your paper carried a Letter to the Editor titled “Vote Out the Cowards Who Are Afraid of the NRA” authored by the chairwoman of an organization identified as “Progressive Democrats of Sussex County”, Joanne Cabry. The hypothesis for her letter is that anyone who votes to protect your constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms is somehow afraid of the NRA — an interesting hypothesis, indeed.

To the extent that any elected official acts out of fear of any person or organization I would agree with Ms. Cabry, such cowards should be removed by the voters. Our elected officials should always be loyal to their oaths of office, faithful to their constitutional imperatives, and responsive to the needs and desires of their constituents. Those who put their own self-interests and their loyalties to special interests and party bosses ahead of their own sworn duties and responsibilities should experience the wrath of the voters on Election Day and should be removed from office.

Unfortunately, the premise upon which Ms. Cabry writes is fundamentally flawed, probably due to a total lack of understanding of the nature and composition of the NRA, and due to a fundamental misunderstanding of the duties and responsibilities of our elected representatives.

Unlike some other organizations, most notably some of those most influential among so-called “Progressive Democrats,” the NRA is its members — members who make up a significant portion of the electorate in every Representative and Senatorial district in Kent and Sussex counties, and in many such districts in New Castle County — teachers, business people, police officers, farmers, tradesmen and women, union members, doctors, lawyers, nurses, homemakers and students, well over 15,000 statewide.

So when a legislator votes in a way that later receives praise from “the NRA”, they are simply doing their job, representing the people in their districts — nothing more, and nothing less.

Both the Delaware Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court have recognized the right to keep and bear arms as a “fundamental right,” a right that pre-existed the formation of both our state and our nation. Both courts have held that the right of self-defense is a “God-given right” that is merely protected by both constitutions and serves as an integral part of the fundamental right to keep and bear arms.

Our own Delaware Constitution says that “A person has the right to keep and bear arms for defense of self, family, home and State, and for hunting, and recreation.” Article 1 Section 20.

So when a Delaware legislator votes to defend that provision, they are doing exactly what they were elected to do, and exactly what their oath of office require them to do. It has nothing to do with the NRA except to the extent that their constituents who are NRA members often remind them of their duties and their oaths of office.

Legislators who obey their oaths of office, uphold their constitutional imperatives, and who are responsive to their constituents, sometimes in the face of unfair and unjustified criticism, should be praised as heroes, while those who attack them for doing their jobs should be correctly labeled as being the cowards.

No, Ms. Cabry. It is you and your cadre of so-called “progressives” who are afraid of the NRA. You are afraid that those NRA members living within the various Representative and Senatorial districts will communicate with their elected representatives and remind them of their oaths and remind them of their constitutional responsibilities.

The only elected officials who should fear the NRA members residing and voting in their districts are those who ignore their oaths of office, who ignore the right of the people to keep and bear arms, and who ignore their duty to their constituents by voting as directed by party leaders rather than as directed by their constituents.

Yes, Ms. Cabry, I agree. Vote out the cowards — but be sure you know who the cowards really are.

Jeff Hague is a resident of Sussex County, an officer in the Bridgeville Rifle & Pistol Club, and the president of the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association

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