An Open Letter to Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney

July 23, 2014

Rep. Carolyn Maloney
United States House of Representatives
2308 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Ms. Maloney:alt

It has recently come to my attention that you have levied baseless accusations against me to the Capitol Police and House Sergeant-at-Arms, claiming that I have “called for death threats against elected officials.”[1]  Specifically, you alleged that “Mr. Pratt is actively encouraging his members to threaten violent action against members of Congress….”

Your baseless charge apparently rests on your outlandish interpretation based on the Rolling Stone report on my comment, that “The Second Amendment is not for hunting, it’s not even for self-defense [but] for restraining tyrannical tendencies in government… Especially those in the liberal, tyrannical end of the spectrum. There is some restraint, and even if the voters of Brooklyn don’t hold them back, it may be there are other ways that their impulses are somewhat restrained. That’s the whole idea of the Second Amendment.”[2]  Additionally, I was quoted as having said that “You know, I’m kind of glad that’s in the back of their minds. Hopefully they’ll behave.”

You reported that the Capitol Police and House sergeant-at-Arms concluded that there was “nothing to be done,”[3] but since you apparently do not “get it,” allow me to explain the obvious.  I have never encouraged, or even suggested, that anyone harm anyone.  Rather, my speech was designed to educate citizens, and politicians, that it is the fact that Americans are armed that allows them to resist efforts to be dominated, intimidated, or controlled by politicians.

Lest you believe that I stand on the fringes of civilized society, let me provide you with some other sources for the same principle which I was enunciating:

* “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government….”  Declaration of Independence (1776).[4]

* “A man’s rights rest in three boxes:  the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.” — Frederick Douglass (November 15, 1867).[5]

* “Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty.” — John Basil Barnhill (1914).[6]

* “[W]hen the able-bodied men of a nation are trained in arms and organized, they are better able to resist tyranny.” — Justice Antonin Scalia, District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 598 (2008).[7]

Thomas Jefferson understood that governments have an almost irresistible desire to gain power by robbing the people of their freedom, which the people must resist if they are to remain free, and sadly observed in 1787 from history that “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”[8] 

These various statements span four centuries.  They come from people of differing ethnicities, of various stations, and holding differing political beliefs.  What they all agree on is that you should go to work every day with a healthy amount of fear and respect for the American people who you are supposed to represent. 

You should do your job in constant trepidation that:

* Should your constituents disapprove of your job performance, you will be publicly criticized from the soap box;

* Should you enact unconstitutional legislation in violation of your oath of office, you will be voted out via the ballot box;        

* Should criminal charges be brought against Americans for crimes which are not authorized by the U.S. Constitution, these prosecutions will be nullified in the jury box; and

* Should you attempt to disarm Americans the way the British crown tried 240 years ago, the same sovereign people who constituted this government using the cartridge box someday may need to reconstitute it, as clearly anticipated by the Declaration of Independence.

The Second Amendment was written to preserve “a free state” against the ever present temptation faced by government officials to steal liberty from the people.  As Justice Joseph Story proclaimed in his widely acclaimed Commentaries on the Constitution (§1890):[9]

The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.

The importance of an armed citizenry was demonstrated in 1946, when returning World War II veterans found their hometown of Athens, Tennessee had been taken over by corrupt local politicians.  It was those veterans access to and experience with firearms that made possible the preservation of ballot boxes that were about to be fraudulently counted, in what has come to be known as the Battle of Athens.  A 1992 movie entitled “An American Story” commemorates the actions of these brave veterans.

Private ownership and skilled use of firearms is what enabled our country to gain its independence, and it is what continues to preserve our liberty.  Someday, I hope that you study this aspect of the history of our great nation, that currently allows you to serve in the People’s House, and come to understand the great principles on which it was founded and continues to operate. 

Sincerely yours,

Larry Pratt
Executive Director






[6], p. 34.