Royce discusses fervent support for second amendment
The Gracie family are famous for their unarmed combat skills, and their search for refining technique led to the development of modern mixed martial arts. And some of them are firearms enthusiasts.
UFC Hall of Famer Royce Gracie spoke recently with National Rifle Association Editor-in-Chief Ed Friedman about his interest in guns and support for the second amendment.
Ed Friedman: How did you get interested in firearms?
Royce Gracie: Growing up in Brazil, my dad had a few guns on our farm. It’s part of martial arts. Sure, they say it’s “empty hands,” but so many styles use weapons, so it’s part of the martial arts culture. When I came to America and saw the freedom that we have, I was blown away. Back in the early days, we had a friend who would take us to the range, and we’d shoot 100 rounds through a .45 ACP 1911. Our goal was to make the bullseye disappear, and I got the shooting bug. Shooting is an art. You need to know what you’re doing, how to be safe, to recognize the skill needed to control that power. It’s a lot like martial arts in that way.
EF: What makes someone who is so skilled in unarmed self-defense feel the need to own firearms?
RG: What if there’s more than one person? What if the adversary is armed? If it’s just one guy who’s not armed, yeah, I can take care of him. But what if he pulls a gun? What if there’s more than one attacker and they have knives? What happens if there’s a terrorist attack? I’ve got a mentality that I’m going to try to stop an attack no matter what, but if he’s got a gun, that’s suicidal if I’m not armed. Also, if a criminal is attacking other people, it’s not always feasible for even someone with my skills to stop that attack without a firearm.
Attackers aren’t going to make it a fair fight. They launch surprise assaults; they try to take you out to get to your family or your property. It’s not the Octagon. There’s no referee. And if he pulls a weapon, he’s not just trying to fight me—he’s trying to kill me. At that point, you’d be crazy to try to go hand to hand. I have a gun to defend myself if the situation escalates like that.
EF: Tell me a little about the situation in Brazil as it pertains to gun ownership and crime.
RG: Brazil never had the degree of freedom we have in the U.S., but you used to be able to buy some guns. There were restrictions, but there were shops we could go to. Then, they essentially banned civilian ownership guns in what they said was an effort to fight crime. That resulted in the criminals arming themselves to the teeth. I mean, they had RPGs and machine guns. They get it from corrupt officials. Violence got out of control after that. It was like the law switched to protect the bad guys. So at the same time they disarmed the law-abiding citizens, they made life easier on the criminals. The murder rate went through the roof. It’s so bad, the prisoners in jails get better food than the police!
EF: What drew you to the NRA? How important is the Second Amendment to you?
RG: The National Rifle Association is the front line of keeping my right to keep and bear arms. That’s the way I look at it. I really respect the NRA, because I know from experience, from what happened to Brazil, how important the Second Amendment is. It is my right to defend myself, and the NRA makes sure that right will be there. Look what happened when they took those rights away in Brazil, in Venezuela—it is vital to keep that right.