WASHINGTON, D.C.—House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) addressed the National Rifle Association’s 2019 Leadership Forum on Friday to share how his personal experience of surviving an attempted mass shooting has strengthened his belief in the importance of the Second Amendment so all law-abiding citizens can defend themselves and their families against criminals like his shooter. Whip Scalise highlighted how it is more important than ever to defend the Second Amendment as radical Democrats increase their efforts to completely deny Americans the right to arm and protect themselves.

Click here or on the image above to watch the full remarks. 

Read highlights from the speech below.

On President Trump’s strong defense of the Second Amendment and recent Supreme Court rulings that protected this right:  

“What an incredible patriot, what a great President, what a wonderful man to serve with. I have the honor of working with him, doing the things that it takes on a daily basis to make America great again. There is nobody who wakes up every single day working harder for the working men and women of this country, who were left behind for too long, to finally give them another chance at the American dream than our great President Donald Trump.

“Just think about when we fight to defend our rights, and our Second Amendment rights especially, that are so often under attack. One of the most important things he’s done as President is to put good people on the Supreme Court who understand it’s their job to interpret the Constitution as it’s written not rewrite it in the vein of their desires.

“There was a case not long ago called the Heller case, where the Supreme Court had the opportunity to determine whether or not the ‘militia’ meant that you could only have the Second Amendment right to a firearm if you were in the military or if it applied to every individual citizen. Now the good news is that the Supreme Court determined that it was the right of every individual not just those in the military to keep and bear arms. The bad part of that decision is that it was a 5-to-4 decision.

“Now just imagine that. When people wonder when you work so hard to vote and get your friends to go out and vote, imagine if this election would have turned out differently. Instead of a 5-to-4 decision to allow each and every one of us to have the right to bear arms in our homes to protect our family, that 5-to-4 decision would have gone the other way and would have said the only way you could have a right to bear arms would be if you served in the military. That’s why these elections are so important. That’s why it’s so important that President Trump is in office doing the things that he said he would do.”

On his first bill in the Louisiana Legislature to protect Americans’ Second Amendment rights:

“I have been honored to work with the NRA, not just since I’ve been a member of Congress, but this goes back to when I was a state representative. In 1999, the city of New Orleans started what was to become a national movement. Right after the big tobacco lawsuits they said they’re going to go after the gun industry. They started law suits in big cities to bankrupt the gun industry. A friend of mine came to me and said, ‘These trial lawyers from all around the country are suing my little hand gun store.’

“I filed a bill to say first of all, if you’re selling a legal product, you shouldn’t be sued if someone uses that product to do something bad, if the product is properly sold. Next thing you know, I get a call from the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, who’s still with the NRA. What a great job he does for the NRA. Back in 1999 Wayne LaPierre calls me and he goes, ‘Steve, I like your bill, and we’d like to support your bill.’

“I’m a young state representative and the NRA calls and says we want to support your bill. I said, ‘I’d love to have your support.’ Then a couple weeks later he calls back and says the President of the NRA would love to come and testify for your bill. Well if you remember back in 1999, the president of the NRA was this guy called Charlton Heston. Charlton Heston wants to come and testify for my bill. Now look, my mom never really payed any attention to any piece of legislation I ever filed, but my mom payed real close attention that day. She goes, ‘Steve, can I be in the committee room when Charlton Hesston comes and testifies?’ Let me tell you that was a packed house, and we passed that bill. I still have the picture. Charlton Heston signed a copy of my bill.

“This went all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court by the way. The next day the City of New Orleans lawsuit against gunmakers was thrown out of court and they did it all across the country. We were able to stop those lawsuits from bankrupting the gun makers of this nation.”

On his work to pass a federal law to prevent door-to-door confiscation of American’s legally-owned weapons:

“Then a few years later, that horrible tragedy happened in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit and once again our gun rights were under attack. You would have never thought you would see this in the United States of America, but they went door to door taking away people’s guns. They gave an order to confiscate the guns of law-abiding citizens in the City of New Orleans and it actually happened.

“Somebody came to me, this lady named Miss Connie. She was in her home in Uptown New Orleans and this was after Katrina. There was no 9-1-1. There was no power. There was no ability if somebody was doing something bad to get somebody else to come and protect you. It was you in your house with your gun, that was your only line of defense. They came in to take her gun and if you saw this lady, she was in her 70s. They tried to take her gun and she said, ‘You’re not taking my gun.’ They tackled her and they took her gun. They broke her arm and I found out about it. I had Miss Connie come and testify and share her story. Once again, the NRA was right there with me and we passed a bill to say never again will that happen. It ultimately became a federal law to say you can never go door to door and take people’s guns.”

On the dangerous socialist tilt among the Democratic Presidential candidates and the candidates’ promises to infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens:

“Well my friends, let me tell you our gun rights are once again under attack. You can see it in this presidential debate that’s already shaping up. President Trump, who’s doing a great job, is going to have a great story to tell next year. You know who he’s going have to tell it against on that stage? It’s not going to just be some liberal. It’s going to be a socialist.

“You can see what’s going on already in this debate. Just look at the debate Monday night. The President alluded to this. They’re talking about letting felons vote while they’re in prison. One of the questioners said, ‘If the Boston Marathon bomber is there, would you let the Boston Marathon bomber vote from prison?’ Bernie said yes and Kamala said yes and one after the other they’re all saying, ‘Sure let them vote.’

“They’re trying to take away your rights to defend yourself, which is enshrined in our Constitution, but they want felons who took the lives of innocent people to be able to have the franchise of voting. Not on our watch.”

On the socialists taking over the Democratic party with the goal of increasing government control and removing Constitutionally-protected rights like the Second Amendment:

“We ought to pay attention to all of those things that [the Democratic candidates] are talking about. It used to a party of moderates and liberals, that’s where the Democrats used to be. Of course, Nancy Pelosi was the standard bearer as a San Francisco liberal. Well today she’s in the middle. It doesn’t mean the country’s moved, it just means they’ve moved so far to where it’s a party of liberals and socialists and the socialists are winning.

“How many of you have heard of the Green New Deal? They want to ban fossil fuels. As we stand here in Lucas Oil Stadium, they want to get rid of fossil fuels. You need to be able to heat your home in the winter when you have a cold winter in Indiana or in New York or if you in south Louisiana like running your air conditioner. It’d be great if you only had to use solar and wind power. I’m all for renewable sources of energy, but you would kill the manufacturing base of this country if you got rid of fossil fuels.”

“It’s all about government control. When you look at where we are in this country today, this is not a socialist nation, but there are socialists trying to run this nation. As we expose what they’re trying to do, it’s really important that we keep talking about it, that we let other people know what they want to do. Some people just take these rights for granted and think that because it’s in the Constitution that it’s never going to be touched; it’s never going to be taken away. It’s always being threatened.

“We always have to fight for our rights whether we do it at the ballot box or whether we have men and women in uniform fighting for our rights across the world or whether our great Border Patrol agents are helping to keep our border secure, which this President is also doing. We have to stand up for these rights every day and you’ve got to show the contrast between what we want to do to give people more freedom.

“On health care, I want to protect people with pre-existing conditions but I don’t want some unelected government bureaucrat telling you what plan you can or can’t buy. Remember all those people who promised you if you like what you have you can keep it? Remember when Nancy Pelosi said you have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it? Well we know what’s in it now.

“Millions of people lost the plan that they had. They were lied to by those people who said if you like what you have you can keep it. You ought to be able to buy whatever plan you think is best for your family. It’s just you and your doctor making health care decisions, not some unelected bureaucrat from Washington. But that’s the difference between us and them. It’s about government control versus freedom.”

On his work to pass the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act:

“As they’re trying to take away the rights of more law-abiding citizens there is now a debate going on across this country that shouldn’t even be a debate. It is over whether or not a baby that’s born alive outside the womb should still be able to be murdered under the guise of abortion. Well, let me tell you something, if a baby is born outside the womb and somebody tries to kill it, it’s murder. It ought to be murder not just in one state or 25 states, it ought to be illegal in every single state.

“We have a bill by my colleague Ann Wagner of Missouri; it’s called the Born Alive Survivors Protection Act. It says that if a baby’s born alive in every state of this country it has full protection. You can’t kill it. It’s not abortion, it is murder. We need to get a vote on that bill and get that bill to President Trump’s desk because President Trump wants to sign that bill.

“His opponents would veto that bill. That shows you how far we’ve come in this country. That’s why it’s so important that we keep reminding people what’s at stake. Why do we show up for a convention to represent and be a part of the National Rifle Association? It’s because we care about our freedoms. We care about what is really important in this country.”

On his experience surviving an attempted mass shooting, which strengthened his belief in the Second Amendment:

“I might have a little more appreciation for just how precious life is, just how precious the moments that we have are. After the shooting, when I finally came back, I was a little bit surprised when, at first, people in the media started questioning me, going ‘Well you were a victim of a shooting, you must be against Second Amendment rights. You must be for gun control.’

“There are deep rooted beliefs that I have, that we all have. Every one of us shares core convictions, whatever they are. I have some of those same core convictions that our Founding Fathers had. They didn’t put gun rights in the Constitution originally because they never thought it would be under attack. It was an assumed right. They talked about it. They believed that every man and woman ought to have the right to defend themselves with firearms. And yet, it did come under attack later. When the Bill of Rights was being put together they put that protection in as the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

“My core conviction goes back to what our country was rooted upon, what our foundation is rooted upon. Our rights do not come to us from some Supreme Court judge. Our rights don’t come to us from Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer. Our rights come to us from God, not lawmakers. It’s God who gave us our rights. Our Founding Fathers believed in that. They talked about it. When people try to take away our foundational understanding that this was a nation founded under God, we always have to fight to defend that because that’s the core of what they’re trying to do to take away and undermine our values, is take away the understanding that this was a nation rooted in the belief of God.”

“When I was laying there on that ballfield and the shootout was going on, I never saw the shooter, but I could hear that it was coming from the third base side and I was playing second base. I hit the ground, and I started crawling away into the outfield. I probably crawled about 20 feet. I saw a picture of a trail of blood that goes about that far and that’s when my arms gave out. When my arms gave out, I laid there and I’m just hearing gunfire. The only thing I could do at that point was to pray. I prayed to God. I had a private conversation with him, a serious conversation where I asked him some pretty heavy things.

“The first one was, I have a young daughter, I said, ‘God please don’t let Madison walk up the aisle alone.’ It’s the first thing that came to my mind. Then, I prayed that I would see my family again. This unbelievable sense of calm that came over me because I put it in God’s hands, and he took care of me.

“I could hear a second round of caliber gunfire being fired. You want to know why our Second Amendment rights are so important? If David Bailey and Crystal Griner with the United States Capitol Police were not there with guns to counter the shooter, he would have taken every single one of us out. That was his intention. He came with unlimited ammunition, but he was stopped because people were there who knew what they were doing and had guns to stop him. Even though they were outgunned, they were better at their jobs than he was. Thank God. And they stopped him. Those are real heroes.”

On the importance of all Americans fighting to protect our Constitutional rights:

“I celebrated our law enforcement before that happened, but even more now. Every man and woman in uniform that you see in law enforcement, thank them for their service because they provide a valuable service and they’re not thanked enough. They were there for me that day. They were there for all of us that day, and they are true American heroes. I got to see heroes. I got to see miracles.

“It’s so important that we talk about that too because in this day and age, it’s easy to become jaded. It’s easy to wonder, ‘Is this still that great country, the shining city on the hill that Ronald Reagan talked about?’ You know what, Ronald Reagan talked about something else. Ronald Reagan said freedom is just one generation from extinction if we don’t fight to defend it. I will tell you this country is worth fighting for. Our freedoms are worth fighting for. I thank each and every one of you for being a part of the NRA—an organization that helps fight for those fundamental freedoms. This is the greatest country in the history of the world, and we’re going to keep fighting to make sure it stays just that way. Thank you for everything you do. God bless these United States of America.”