Protecting the Four Freedoms with the Fifth

by CHAIRMAN JASON SHEPHERD
75 years ago last Tuesday, on February 20, 1943, during the height of World War II, Norman Rockwell’s first of his four painting representing the Four Freedoms debuted on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. That first painting, “Freedom of Speech” is one of the most iconic images of the first of our First Amendment rights. It, along with the freedoms of religion, press, assembly, and petitioning of the government make up the cornerstone of the rights on which America is built. And to protect those freedoms, which are not given by man, but by the Creator, James Madison, author of the Bill of Rights, pinned the the fifth freedom, the 2nd Amendment:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
 
Since the most recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the left has relentlessly attacked the National Rifle Association and its members. Never mind the NRA nor its members, of which I am one, had anything to do with the attack. But rather than attack the incompetence of the Democratic Sheriff and his deputies who waited patiently outside while kids were being shot, or local and federal law enforcement which received, by some counts, nearly two dozen credible warnings about the shooter that were simply ignored, or their backers in Hollywood that put on regular television violence so graphic that a generation ago would require an “R” rating in theaters, the left has focused the blame squarely on the NRA. 
 
The NRA doesn’t control the Republican Party. The reason it has so much influence is based on the fact that so many of its members tend to also vote Republican. As any large membership organization (more than 100,000 in Georgia alone) Republican leaders listen to the NRA because, not only do many of them align with the freedoms championed by the NRA, but many of their voters are members as well. While to some the NRA’s opposition to any weapons ban might seem unreasonable, the leadership knows whenever a little freedom is surrendered, those to whom it is surrendered to are rarely satisfied, and most of the left won’t be satisfied until law-abiding Americans are left with little more than spit balls and water pistols to defend themselves. 
 
On Thursday, Delta Airlines joined the fray by sending out a press release severing ties with the NRA (really, severing ties with its individual members who would have taken advantage of the NRA group discount). Delta’s stated reason was “to remain neutral.”
 
Delta’s decision reflects the airline’s neutral status in the current national debate over gun control amid recent school shootings. Out of respect for our customers and employees on both sides, Delta has taken this action to refrain from entering this debate and focus on its business.
Despite Delta’s statement that this was a move towards neutrality, given the timing and the overtly public way it chose to make its announcement, it seems to be anything but neutral, especially when Delta still freely associates with a number of left-winged organizations actively engaged in controversial national debates. In fact, Delta goes on to justify its action by giving another example of where it ended support for an organization:
Last year, Delta withdrew its sponsorship of a theater that staged a graphic interpretation of “Julius Caesar” depicting the assassination of President Trump. 
Did Delta Airlines actually compare the NRA and its 5 million patriotic and law-abiding members to a theater that depicted the assassination of the President? How many Delta pilots, many of whom are former military, are members of the NRA? How many Delta employees? How many of them will feel comfortable with senior management finding out they are NRA members now that their employer has compared their membership with a theater troupe that advocates for political assassination?
What’s more, Delta decided to make this announcement while, at the same time, asking for a special tax break from the Georgia General Assembly. I joined the media discussion after what I thought was quiet comment in a Facebook discussion where I simply asked, “If Delta can’t respect the right of the people to keep and bear arms, then why in the heck are the people of this state subsidizing their jet fuel?” landed in Greg Bluestein’s article in the AJC. That was followed by a request to come down to the studios of WXIA and speak on air with a reporter covering the story. And since then, the hate emails have been coming in. 
 
Still, I firmly believe blaming the NRA, the 2nd Amendment, Republican Party, or anyone else who wasn’t in Parkland and couldn’t have stopped the shooting misses the target (pun intended) on why we are having so many mass shootings. Rifles like the AR-15 were banned in 1999 when 13 students were killed and 24 injured at Columbine High School. Other mass killings would occur before the ban ended in 2004. If weapons bans stopped violence, then Chicago and Washington, D.C. would be two of America’s safest cities. 
 
But it’s only left-winged logic that says we need to decriminalize drugs because bans don’t work while advocating for the criminalization of weapons because bans do work.