Guns and gays

By Reade Brower | Jun 05, 2014

“What is objectionable and what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.” — Robert Kennedy, Pursuit of Justice, 1964

“Thirty-One school shootings since Columbine and no change in the regulation of guns”…. is what British comedian John Oliver said in a comedy routine December 2012.

Some gun lobbyists and enthusiasts are already frothing at the mouth, before I even give some opening thoughts. The fear that politicians are trying to take guns away is not the issue here and I’m not lumping all NRA and gun supporters with the Robert Kennedy quote that begins this column, but I am generalizing that extremism does not mix well with common sense principles.

Anyone that thinks more gun controls are needed shouldn’t automatically put them into the group that wants to get rid of them all together. This paradox has always perplexed and worried me. Buying a weapon, like a gun, should be regulated; we regulate many things in our society, so why not create reasonable registration rules for the ownership of a gun?

There are a lot of us that have conflicting feelings about both guns and how to regulate them. I have one sister that uses a rifle to hunt; she eats the meat and uses the fur to make warm gloves. I have another sister who has a pistol by her bedside stand; she keeps it there to protect herself and her home.

While guns make me personally nervous, I am not anti-gun, nor do I think they should be outlawed. I’m just afraid if I hunted I would shoot myself in the foot, or worse. If I was protecting my house, a scenario where I either shoot my wife or kid by accident or get disarmed and the gun used against me by the bad guy is what my nightmare is about. I’d also be afraid that someone might steal it and it would get into the wrong hands.

For me, a gun is probably never in my future but I should be able to buy one if I wanted one to hunt or thought it was needed to protect myself or my family. But why not create a reasonable waiting period and real accountability?

I would draw the line on assault rifles; I have looked for the argument on why we need to allow any kind of semi-automatic weapons into the hands of everyday citizens. I have even read the 2nd Amendment to better understand the logic and it states: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The Constitution was written over 200 years ago and things were much different then. Today we have a well maintained militia and everyday citizens are not expected to jump in and help patrol the streets, nor do I want them to (George Zimmerman). The framers of the Constitution intended that the right to bear arms was not necessarily for the individual but rather to aid in a “well-regulated military." The most often quoted piece of the amendment is the last sentence which makes this amendment like the Bible, a document that can be interpreted and used to support arguments on many specters.

The gun lobbies and NRA are so strong and so freaked out that “people like me” want to take away their guns that not even common sense regulations or changes are supported.

Isn’t it odd that we have had over 30 mass shootings and no substantial changes in gun regulation yet the one failed shoe bomb prompted security changes, and in the '80s a Tylenol bottle that was laced with poison and killed seven people quickly made sealed products the law, making tampering with them more difficult?

In my readings, I also came across a common thread theory. It stated that in most mass murders, there are psychotropic drugs involved. While I think that this hypothesis is accurate and fair. Even understanding that most are prescribed, it does nothing to alter my opinions on gun registration and the expansion of regulations that will help get unnecessary weapons of mass destruction off the streets while allowing citizens to acquire guns and rifles with due process rather than just because it is a perceived right given us by the Constitution.

Common sense might rule the day if emotions could be help in check.

*****

I read with interest that State Regulators have recommended a $50,000 fine against the anti-gay marriage group The National Organization for Marriage or NOM.

The investigation found in their 37-page report that this group did not properly report contributions over $5,000, as the law required. Also cited were accusations of money laundering by four individuals who formed a PAC to contribute to NOM in order to stay anonymous.

The disclosure law requires groups spending more than $5,000 to influence ballot questions share this info with the Commission. For the 2009 vote, NOM raised the majority of its monies from 14 major donations that totaled over $5.5 million.

The claim by NOM was that sharing that info might subject their donors to harassment and was also a direct assault on free speech. They also argued that since they do not mark funding for any particular initiative they shouldn’t be subjected to the disclosure laws. NOM says that their donors do not know specifics of where the money is spent but that seems like another laundering technique to me, and an effort to avert the regulations.

I appreciate that the Commission on Governmental Ethics had the guts to step up and send this message. Free speech is important, and in this case was not infringed upon; hiding behind a veil is cowardly and has nothing to do with free speech. If you want to take a stand on gay marriage, I support your right to do so but not your right to give over $5,000 and stay anonymous. If you believe it, be accountable and stand up so you can be counted.

 

Turn the Page. Peace out; Reade

Reade Brower can be reached at: reade@freepressonline.com.

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