Governor Perry's Remarks to the NRA Convention in St. Louis

The following are Governor Rick Perry's remarks to the National Rifle Association's 141st annual meeting in St. Louis on April 13th.

I am proud to take this stage not only as avid supporter of the 2nd Amendment but a frequent practitioner.

Ever since the campaign ended, the coyotes have gone into hiding. And the Ruger Coyote Killer Special is selling so fast they had to suspend orders until they can address their backlog.

Let me address the elephant in the room my recent campaign for president. Being the Republican frontrunner was the best three hours of my life. I have come to grips with the outcome. The only lasting effect is I refuse to go on stage where there are multiple podiums. Officially, I've only suspended my campaign. I never really quit. So technically, I'm still in the race, except I can go home and relax and still do about as well.

But being governor in Texas is no consolation prize.

It remains a great platform for addressing the issues of our time and taking a stand when the federal government encroaches upon our freedom. What the Obama Administration can’t accomplish by legislation it does by regulation. The power of the presidency involves the seeping encroachment of federal agencies into the everyday activities of citizens. When they couldn’t get Congress to regulate greenhouse gases, the EPA took it upon itself to declare carbon dioxide a pollutant. It’s not just the EPA that is raining down new regulations to control human activity deemed politically incorrect. It’s the Department of Interior, which often stands in the way of energy exploration and it is the U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife Services, which advances an extremist agenda that impacts recreational activity.

I specifically take issue with Fish & Wildlife’s new regulations that require a federal permit to hunt or even capture and breed the Scimitar-horned Oryx.

Today there are 11,000 scimitar-horned Oryx on Texas ranches. In 1979 there were 32. But the federal definition for the word “taking,” which now requires a permit, is so broad that these conservation efforts will be undermined as ranchers now decide against cutting the federal tape required to breed this unique animal.

With the new rule taking effect nine days ago, common sense has once again given way to extremism. And I let Interior Secretary Salazar know about it in a recent letter because they’re not just messing with Texas… their messing with the American tradition of hunting and ranching.

It seems if you are a capitalist, or an outdoor enthusiast, the federal government has you in its sights. The same federal government that would limit our right to hunt was secretly arming drug cartels in an ill-conceived operation called Fast & Furious. I will not accuse Attorney General Holder of malice intent but instead sheer incompetence. By letting guns walk on the street in order to trace them back to high level drug cartel operatives, they engaged in reckless disregard for the safety of our own citizens. A federal agent is dead, and now instead of taking responsibility, Mr. Holder is claiming ignorance.

But I’m not sure which is worse: authorizing such a reckless operation, or not knowing about it. Either way, it is time for Eric Holder to step aside. Border security is one of the basic obligations of our federal government. Our federal agents and local and state law enforcement put their lives at risk every day to stop the trafficking of people, weapons and drugs. We need a federal government that stands with the men and women who wear the badge and protect our freedoms by securing our country.

Washington would rather meddle with our individual freedoms instead of meeting its most basic constitutional obligations. What else would explain a government that wants to run your healthcare, control your local classrooms and regulate the Second Amendment? I have a message for Washington: the Bill of Rights is not a cafeteria plan where you can choose which amendments you like, and discard the ones you don’t.

I don’t care if the 2nd Amendment and the 10th Amendment are inconvenient to your bureaucratic schemes… they are in the constitution, and we will not negotiate away our freedoms.

I happily cling to my guns and my God even if President Obama thinks that is simple-minded in his elitist heart. In the myopic world of liberals, guns are responsible for evil instead of the perpetrators of evil. But criminals are not bound by our laws that’s what makes them criminals.

When a criminal breaks into your home, I’ll let the liberals call their lawyer… I will call upon Smith & Wesson. Armed, law-abiding citizens are a greater deterrent to violent crime than a thousand laws passed by Congress.

Your involvement in the National Rifle Association, and state firearms organizations, keeps Congress honest. They cannot infringe upon our freedom when citizens are well-informed. Let them know you carry, and you cast a ballot… …your two greatest constitutional weapons.

Tell them in 2012 you will not stand for bureaucratic meddling with hunting rights… or bureaucratic bungling of border security operations by making Barack Obama a one-term president. A lame-duck Obama Administration is a scary prospect. In the words of Nancy Reagan, “just say no.”

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

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