It is the man, not the gun, that is capable of committing acts of evil.
That was the message Glenn Beck conveyed throughout his highly anticipated keynote speech at the 2013 NRA Convention on Saturday. He made that case using storied antique firearms as he taught America's captivating history through guns. Make no mistake, the history behind some of the guns Beck handled on stage will blow you away.
One story about a particular shotgun, wielded by a "naked hippie" shooting at birds decades ago, seemed to have the most impact. Beck explained that after receiving a early morning call about the naked hippie shooting birds out of season, police in California arrested the said hippie and confiscated his WWII-era shotgun.
That man turned out to be a notoriously evil serial killer known to the world as Charles Manson. After his gun was taken away, he then turned to a knife to commit at least nine grisly murders with his cult group.
"Charlie Manson had his gun taken away. Charlie Manson didn't use a gun. He killed with a knife," Beck told a crowd of thousands at the George R. Brown Convention Center Saturday.
"We have to admit two things," he added. "That weapons will always find their way into the hands of bad people, always...but we must declare this: that guns must remain in the hands of good people."
Watch the highlights from Beck's NRA speech below:
He told several other stories about antique firearms, including one about a New York police officer whose revolver was found in the rubble following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. While victims were running away from the horrific scene, heroes like Walter Weaver, a member of the NYPD and a lifetime NRA member, were running in.
After the towers fell and the nation mourned, Beck said, responders sifted through the rubble, and only found a small reminder of Walter Weaver. Beck then held up the revolver for the audience to see, calling it "a silent token of liberty."
But Beck first brought out an antique rifle that was used by the U.S. the "first time we fought Muslim extremists" -- the Barbary pirates. Beck said Thomas Jefferson warned that Muslim extremists are not going to go anywhere. The gun was later picked up and used by a Muslim extremist.
"So what is this gun, good or evil? It is nothing! A gun is only a reflection of the people that use it," he declared.
Beck didn't discriminate politically as he blasted Democrats and Republicans for promoting and implementing a progressive ideology that is "antithetical" to our Constitutional Republic. Unfortunately, he explained, the problem is everywhere -- in media, churches and educational systems across the country.
He jabbed a number of celebrities and politicians for anti-gun hypocrisy, including Michael Moore, Jim Carrey and, of course, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Beck said there is a "tough journey ahead" for gun owners in America, proclaiming that "this weekend, I believe, is one of the most important moments in American history and the defining moment for the NRA."
He explained that big government progressives actually believe they can make better decisions for Americans than they can make themselves. "I will not comply!" Beck said emphatically, drawing the first of several standing ovations during his speech.
But the four things Americans need to know for the battle ahead, according to Beck, are: "What we fight, who we fight, why we fight, and how we fight."
'Guns Save Lives'
Beck also told some of the many, many stories TheBlaze has covered about good, law-abiding people with firearms defending themselves, their families and property.
On April 4, just one month ago in Portland, Oregon, a woman was attacked around 10 p.m. after she had gotten out of her car, Beck told a captivated audience. A man approached her from behind and dragged her backwards by her ponytail. We know what would have happened next, but this woman had a gun. She pointed it at the man and "he ran like a little girl," he said.
He went on to tell the story of a elderly woman in Youngstown, Ohio, who was strapped to an oxygen tank at her home when someone broke the glass on her front door and entered. She retrieved her revolver and warned him to leave, and when he didn't, she shot him and held him for police.
Additionally, in Texas recently, attackers sexually assaulted a mother and her daughter, Beck said. The woman's son was also tied up but managed to get free and grab a handgun, sending the two men fleeing from the home.
"It happens every day. Every day," Beck said, "and it seems to me that we are the only major media outlet in the country with the guts to report it. Why? Because the truth has no agenda…guns save lives!"
He went on: "They’re counting on you to be quiet. For our soldiers to come home, to sit down and to be quiet. Not to have the courage like so many soldiers to come home and tell the truth like Marcus Luttrell and Chris Kyle—or their sweet dear wives who pick up the torch and carry on."
Combating the gun control narrative pushed by the media and politicians, Beck threw some cold water on anti-gun advocates' arguments by laying out some cold hard facts during his speech.
"We should ban guns like they did in England, should we?" Beck asked sarcastically, quickly adding that gun-related crimes doubled in England within a decade of the gun ban. And four years after guns were banned, the English Bobby began to carry guns for the first time. "Gun bans double murder rates," he said.
He said there are 30,000 firearms-related deaths per year in the United States, but 65 percent of those are suicide related. Meanwhile, most of the 35 percent of deaths remaining are for self-protection or involving cops in the line of duty. Once you factor suicide, cops and protection, the murder rate gets cut by "over half," he explained.
He also took a shot at President Barack Obama. After saying more gun-related deaths occur during bad economic times, Beck told Obama, "If you want to save lives, Mr. President, fix the economy."
Beck also invoked the late Charlton Heston, belting out his famous "out of my cold dead heads" line.
'I Might Need More Than Six Bullets, Thank You'
Addressing those that believe the government could never turn on its citizenry, Beck reminded the NRA audience of when the U.S. government disarmed the Lakota Indians for their "protection" before killing 150 men, women and children after a gun accidentally discharged as a deaf boy attempted to hold onto his gun.
"The creek was called 'Wounded Knee.' The year was 1890…This gun here actually came from that tribe," Beck said, holding up the antique rifle.
Imagine the difference guns would have meant to the average African-American living in the South in 1850 -- or even after they were freed in 1880s, Beck posited. He said even after the Emancipation Proclamation, slavery was not entirely over.
"It's why Martin Luther King marched," he added. "It didn't end. Why?" The answer, according to Beck, is that pro-slavery Democrats in the South tried disarming blacks because it was the last thing they could do to prevent them from truly witnessing freedom.
Beck told the audience that Republicans and blacks ended up on the Ku Klux Klan kill list during the fight for racial equality and klansmen went door-to-door killing whites and blacks out of sheer hatred.
"Now if you [don't] have a gun and the Klan comes knocking at your door, how is that freedom exactly?" he asked, later adding: "If the Klan or the Crips or any of the gangs coming across the border unimpeded…come knocking at my door, I might need more than six bullets, thank you."
Beck said that there is a "different enemy" working together that wants to disarm Americans because they know if you lose the Second Amendment, you lose the 1st, the 4th (unreasonable searches), the 5th, (right to a grand jury) the 10th (states' rights) the 14th (slavery), the 19th (women’s voting), and then all you’ll be left with is the 16th Amendment, which is the income tax.
'It Is the Man, Not the Gun'
Beck eventually circled back to the theme of his keynote speech.
"It is not the gun or the knife, or as Cain discovered with Abel, a rock," he said, "but the cold heart filled with error, darkness and coldness. That is the problem."
He urged his audience to build others up, to teach them, to heal them. He said liberty-loving Americans will work side-by-side together for freedom; white, black, Hispanic or native-American. "It doesn't matter," he noted.
"We will work together as Americans not only to preserve our rights, but the rights of our children to be safe, our wives and daughters to not be held at knife or gunpoint by a rapist and our most precious and vulnerable little ones to have the right to survive a simple walk down a city street or God forbid, survive a day public education," Beck said to thunderous applause.
Beck concluded his powerful keynote speech by quoting Winston Churchill, saying "we will fight your lies and we will counter them with love, peace and equal justice for all mankind."
As Beck's final words rang out, the crowd went wild as a noisy fusion of cheers and applause tore through the auditorium. The crowd stayed on their feet for a considerable amount of time, wrapping up a very successful second day of the convention.
After his speech, Beck had one more surprise. NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre made his way to the stage and presented him with a framed signature of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.