Special Forces Veteran Nick Freitas’ Viral Speech Just Changed the Game in the Gun Control Debate:
Here’s what you need to know.
Republican candidate for Senate in Virginia, Nick Freitas, brought the house down with his defense of gun rights.
The 7.5 minute speech, delivered by Republican Candidate for Senate and former Green Beret Nick Freitas last Friday on the Virginia House floor, stunned Democrats and prompted many to storm out of the session. Still, Freitas – one of several Republicans running for the seat of Sen. Tim Kaine (R-Va.) – was unapologetic – and so are his supporters. Views of his speech have climbed in a matter of days to nearly 13.5 million views on Facebook alone.
Why have his remarks sent out such a shockwave to embolden his supporters and shake his detractors? What’s different about his approach to the debate? Some critical points:
- Freitas represents the conservative voice of the future.
A U.S. Army veteran who has served in the 82nd Airborne Division, 25th Light Infantry Division, and U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Berets), Freitas represents a rising generation of young combat veterans and special operations personnel who are now finding their voice in the political sphere. Having seen heavier combat action that many of our nation’s servicemembers have seen in decades, this young generation has been afforded the opportunity to develop an evolved perspective on world affairs that is informed beyond the purely theoretical approaches afforded to most politicians in a collegiate or professional environment.
Real world experience leads to real world solutions, and that’s why the bold case for the Second Amendment that Freitas makes resonates so deeply. “We honestly believe that you have an inherent right to defend yourself,” Freitas stated on behalf of his party, “and your ability to defend yourself should not be exclusive to your size. Firearms provide someone that is weaker and not as fast the ability to actually defend themselves from a stronger attacker.” As a combat veteran, Freitas understands the grim reality that in certain encounters, when you’re met with lethal force, you need to meet or exceed that level of force in order to prevail. In the case of school shootings, this principle has distinct implications: a child is faced with an inherent size disadvantage when facing an adult attacker, let alone an adult attacker with a firearm. There needs to be a way for someone to meet or exceed that level of force in order for that child’s life to be preserved. This perspective is widely shared and agreed upon by the military, law enforcement, pro- Second Amendment, and veterans’ communities, but it’s rarely one that is seen in the political sphere. Young leaders like Freitas aim to change that.
- Freitas understands the issues of violence and self-defense from a historical perspective, undermining the philosophical idealism of the Left.
Much of the Left’s case against the Second Amendment is founded upon the idealistic view of human nature that we can use rationalism to override our fundamentally tribal and violent human heritage. Having served in cultures where tribalism and violence abound, Freitas is quick to point out that the human desire to override this aspect of our nature is well-intentioned, but can’t be trusted. He points out, “While we may be a post-enlightenment society, the vast majority of horrible atrocities that we’ve seen have happened in those post-enlightenment societies. They’ve happened as a result of governments systematically disarming citizens and claiming themselves to be the sole responsible party for their security, and then turning on those same citizens and punishing them.” Disarming citizens in the name of peace is and will always be a pipe dream that ignores fundamental realities of the human condition; fundamental realities that are easily overlooked when you have a Ph.D. in political science, perhaps, but not when you’ve witnessed the realities of tribalism and war firsthand.
- Freitas is unafraid to call out the Left for its hegemonic claim on the Moral High Ground.
For years, much of the Left’s persona has hinged upon its insistence that it is the sole supporter of the poor, unfortunate, overlooked, and downtrodden. Freitas unapologetically called them out for the fundamental hypocrisy of making such a claim: “It was not our party that supported slavery,” he pointed out, “that fought women’s suffrage, that rounded up tens of thousands of Asian-Americans and put them in concentration camps, that supported Jim Crow, that supported segregation, or supported mass resistance. That wasn’t our party. That was the Democrat party.” Making it clear that his objective in sharing these historical reminders was not contentious, he continued, “I’m thrilled that Democrats no longer believe that. And I don’t believe that a single member of this body who is a Democrat ever believed those things. But I would really appreciate it if, every time you want to make a powerful point, you don’t project the sins, the atrocities, and the injustices that the Democratic party perpetrated on others, onto us.”
His point? It’s time for the Democratic party to abandon their self-proclaimed exclusive right to the moral high ground, and recognize that they should be slow to cast the first stone before comparing pro- Second Amendment Republicans to Nazis and segregationists (two examples Freitas cited). By pushing the debate in this direction, Freitas opened up the discussion to consider that supporters of the Second Amendment are far from bloodthirsty warmongers; they are realists who understand the realities of violence and the need to have our right to self-defense protected.
- Freitas understands the slippery slope towards dismantling the Second Amendment that begins with increased firearm restrictions.
Outlining a theoretical progression of increased firearm restrictions that would rapidly proliferate after it was observed that each subsequent restriction wasn’t working, Freitas projects how this could unfold: “It’ll be bump-stocks and it’ll be background checks. Then it’ll be different kinds of background checks that register the guns. Then after that it’ll be ‘we need to ban assault weapons.’ What’s an assault weapon? Something that looks scary. Then after that, it’ll be semi-automatic rifles. After that, it’ll be semi-automatic handguns. Then it’ll be revolvers, shotguns.” It’s a progression that anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of firearms could imagine unfolding.
But why would things snowball in this way? Freitas explained this to his political opposition, too: “Because when the policies fail to produce the results you are promising to your constituents, you’ll be back with more reasons why we’ve got to infringe upon Second Amendment rights.” The underlying assertion? None of these policies is the answer to gun violence and school shootings that we’re looking for.
- Freitas is unafraid to counter emotional appeals with logic.
Citing the example of “members on the other side of the aisle saying that when a 24 year old teacher gets up that the whole debate is between the Second Amendment or her life,” he fearlessly points out that, on a rational level, this is actually “a false dilemma.” It’s a reductive approach to the problem that makes an emotional appeal but doesn’t meet the standard of rigorous analysis that the issue actually merits.
- Freitas demands an unsuperstitious look at statistics surrounding the gun violence debate, and he’s not afraid to be politically incorrect.
Insisting upon an “open and honest debate” that considers “data, facts, evidence, analysis, reason, [and] logic,” Freitas undermines some key anti-gun presuppositions of the Left. “Why do all mass shootings seem to take place in gun-free zones?” he asks, “Wouldn’t it be reasonable to test whether or not the efficacy of gun-free zones have actually achieved what their intended intent is?” This scientific approach is hindered by the Left’s absolute refusal to acknowledge the utility of firearms in many situations involving soft targets.
He also takes on the politically correct taboos that prevent us from seeking meaningful solutions, insisting that “we [should] start to look at most of these shooters coming from broken homes,” considering the “government policies [that] have actually encouraged broken homes.” Citing data from the Left’s own sources, he convincingly urges us to consider, “You can look at left-leaning think tanks like the Brookings Institute that will actually say that some of it can be attributed to various cultural changes that happened in the sixties, to include the abortion industry.” He even takes on the welfare state, insisting that it “contributes significantly to dismantling the family, as families become more and more dependent upon the government than they were mothers and fathers in the home raising children.” While personal accountability and traditional family structure are topics that the Left feels it’s intolerant to touch, Freitas has no problem drawing attention to these emotional hot spots, recognizing that by avoiding them we are leaving potential sources of the gun violence problem unchecked.
- There’s more.
These are the main takeaways from Freitas’ remarks, and every Second Amendment supporter would do well to listen to his talk and arm themselves with these well-reasoned key points.
For more of my thoughts on why it’s time to take a realistic stance on the problem of violence, please see my essays “Embrace the Violence: Why Disarming the Populace Will Never Work,» and «How is there not yet armed security in schools?»