Saturday, December 15, 2012
I live in one of the reddest counties in one of the reddest states in America. I am in the old white guy demographic. Most of my friends are old white guys. Last night I was at a holiday party with old white guys and their ageless, forever young-looking wives. (I am not stupid…someone might actually read this.) Conservative old white guys and their lovely, equally conservative wives. The wives talked about holiday plans, family, food, fashion, football, the horrific Connecticut school shootings and gun control. Their husbands talked about local politics, the fiscal cliff, Obama, deer hunting, the drought, football, the horrific Connecticut school shootings and gun control.
Most folks, especially folks from “the Left”, would predict that this crowd is in the “pry the gun from my cold dead fingers” camp. And I guess, to some degree that is true. But only if we are talking about hunting rifles, shotguns and pistols. Maybe it was just the reaction to the latest mass murder, but no one was advocating that citizens had the right to own automatic or semi-automatic, assault weapons (rifles or pistols). Who needs 15, 20 or 30 round clips of firepower? Sure, there are people on the fringes who are preparing for life after the “big one” (whatever the big one might be.) They are storing food, water and fuel. They are armed to the teeth and prepared to defend themselves against the stupid and unprepared masses that won’t be able to survive when the shelves at Wal-Mart are empty. But these “survivalists” are few and the reality is that they will find a way to arm themselves.
What concerns the mainstream, even the conservative, gun-toting mainstream in places like Texas; is the firepower that is now available to virtually anyone with an ID, a little money and a few days to allow for processing the paperwork. We fear that the next mass murder may be in our school or our church or our mall. As I have written in the past, we are not shocked anymore when these things happen. It’s almost become the norm in our society. While we are not likely to stop the crazies from killing people, we can at least take steps to reduce the body count.
The other concern is that every time we have guns used to commit mass murder, we move closer to the extreme position that citizens should not have guns in the first place. Oh perhaps, you can “own” a deer-rifle or a shotgun for hunting. But those need to be secured in a locker somewhere (not your home) and only accessed during hunting season and with the proper licensing and authorizations. Now that’s not going to happen, but when folks in this part of the country hear liberal knuckleheads preach gun control, we fear even the possibility of such controls and limitations of our gun rights.
Last night I heard conservative, gun-owning and gun-toting Texans saying that something has to change. They weren’t spouting the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” mantra of the NRA. They were saying ENOUGH…we’ve had enough and if we don’t crack down on the ownership and possession of certain types of weapons, we are at risk of losing our rights to own and possess any type of weapons. And, we and our children and our grandchildren are at risks of becoming the next victims of a mass murderer wielding guns designed for killing dozens of people in only a few minutes.
I have friends and family who literally hate guns. Don’t own one and would never allow one in their home. I respect their point of view. Don’t agree with them, but respect their viewpoint. I do own guns for hunting, varmint control and self-defense. I live in a rural area, no police patrols and no next door neighbors. If someone decides to enter my home uninvited while I am there, it is very likely that they will be shot. I have more than one gun in more than one place. This is not unusual for people in this part of the country. (And when kids are around the guns are locked up. So if the bad guys hit us when kids are around I guess we're just SOL.) But I don’t need assault weapons with 20 round clips of ammo. If I can’t stop the bad guys with my .357 revolver or 12 gauge shotguns, then I deserve to be a victim. And if my lovely wife goes off the deep end someday and shoots me, I will probably deserve that as well. So don’t blame the gun.
Gun control will be a hot topic for the next few months. Like most controversial issues, the majority of Americans are somewhere in the middle. Those of us on the right have concerns about losing our guns. But we know that something has to be done to restrict the types of weapons and the level of firepower. We understand that there needs to be more extensive background checking and if that means it takes longer to purchase a gun, so be it. Most of those left of center are not for taking our guns away. They are for banning assault weapons and having tighter controls on who can purchase or possess firearms. We must find solutions. They may not be perfect and they may not satisfy either side completely. But, it will save lives.