The tragic bombing at Oklahoma City has sparked a debate in our country about how to prevent a tragedy of this type from occurring again. It is important to understand that in a free country it is virtually impossible to provide any ironclad protection against the violent acts of deranged people. But part of being free is the requirement to ensure civil order. That is the job that we ask our law enforcement officials to do.
The question we must now ask ourselves is how can we protect Americans without infringing on the liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. People have a constitutional right to criticize their government and the institutions of this Nation. This right not only applies to people we like--our neighbors and our friends--it also applies to people we do not like and associations we do not care for. This right must be preserved.
The Oklahoma City bombing has also sparked a debate about militia groups in our country. People have every right to join organizations. However, I have heard some militia leaders say the Federal Government is their avowed enemy when they have been interviewed on television programs. Some of them talk in terms of violence and battles. I think that is an unhealthy attitude and I think that thinking can lead to violence.
I want to emphasize my commitment to preserving the fundamental freedoms that are guaranteed to all Americans under our Constitution. But I also want to emphasize that I join those in our country who want to send a message to the people who cross the line between criticizing our government and advocating or resorting to violence or terrorism. There is no constitutional right to commit violence in our country. There is no constitutional right to kill innocent men, women, and children. And those who do should be dealt with aggressively by our law enforcement agencies.
It is important that we discuss these issues in a thoughtful, reasonable, and constructive way. In America, we can disagree without being disagreeable. We can have a debate without shouting. And we can work together to fix things that are wrong in this country and to make this a better place. Most importantly, we should protect and cherish our constitutional rights. One of those rights is to live in a free country--free from the unspeakable horrors that were perpetrated on innocent people in Oklahoma City.