The Journal an editorial

The hyperbolic atmosphere prevailing in America today undermines any optimism, however fleeting, that I might have felt for our future. I have a passel of grandchildren, and I’m loath to predict a dismal scenario for them, but it sure is hard to see everything suddenly tuning up roses. It’s as if we are on an inexorable slog toward collapse, interrupted only by brief bouts of hysteria.

I’ve never seen so much vitriol. There is no sense of decorum. There apparently is nothing that can’t be said about someone and the President himself is largely responsible for setting the tone. He went beyond the pale in a recent Pennsylvania speech, in which, among other reprehensible comments, he lowered himself to calling a well-known TV personality a “sleepy-eyed SOB.” Go ahead and cast it off as locker room talk, but saying that in the locker rooms that I’ve been in would quickly result in a thrown punch. “Don’t you call my mother a…” Whap!

Remember the halcyon days of the Internet and social media, when the former was going to allow even poor people to access knowledge and the latter was going to provide a platform for initiating peaceful change - as in the Arab spring. In fact, the Internet has also spread ignorance and misinformation and Twitter has become a de facto way of running the country, not changing it.

I resent being assigned a color to represent my core beliefs. And I particularly resent the implication that by believing a certain way I am unpatriotic, godless or in love with Nancy Pelosi! There are things that I do hold dear and to which I will devote time and treasure. I’ll choose clean air and water every time; education over incarceration; hard-working people receiving a living wage, affordable health care and keeping the First Amendment on a par with the Second Amendment.

I like guns. I want to be able to shoot them and be free to hunt with them. I want to be able to protect my home should the need arise, but I have no illusions about how a self-defense strategy can blow up in your face in front of a judge and jury. I also think there are positive changes that could be effected regarding gun laws. What’s wrong with a sensible approach to back ground checks? And is buying a gun over the Internet a good idea? What is wrong with giving someone under 21 increased scrutiny? They aren’t allowed to drink. They can’t just go out and start driving a car around. They can’t even rent a car to drive around. Moreover, it is far easier to get a gun than a credit card.

One area in which we are failing miserably is in providing access to mental health, particularly in regard to veterans. Legislators talk about providing for it, but most recently mental health care in Eureka became as scarce as Nazis at an Antifa rally. Why? Budget cuts. The sad thing is, the money is out there, but it’s being thrown in all the wrong directions. The amount that lobbyist give to our Congresspersons is obscene, not just over guns, but everything imaginable. The NRA greased palms to the tune of $55 million in the last election cycle.

From as near as I can tell, there is all but nothing regarding gun control the NRA will support. Why bump stocks? Why high capacity magazines? And now there’s a movement afoot to make silencers as easy to buy as a pocket knife. Really? Wouldn’t it be something if a school shooter walked in using a silencer? How would anybody know they were under attack? Only assassins and poachers need silencers. And where is the justification for refusing to allow the Department of Health, Education and Welfare to even gather data on gun violence in America?

I was once an NRA member. I looked forward to receiving my copy of the American Rifleman each month and the first thing I did was turn to the “Armed Citizen” page, where I was eager to read about law abiding citizens saving the day with their gun. I’m sure a lot of people who go around wearing a gun have an Armed Citizen fantasy running through their head - being at the right place at the right time to be a hero. I opted out of the venerable organization when I saw an ad one month of a major gun manufacturer wherein the virtues of one particular gun model were extolled. It showed a proud hunter with his gun - literally aping at the camera - and beside him, slumped against a log, was a dead mountain gorilla. That’s not hunting. It’s more akin to murder.

I suppose some gun owners imagine being in a position to defend themselves from terrorist. After all, we’ve been led to believe they are major threat. But even counting the tragedy of 9/11, in which the vast majority of all domestic terrorism victims died in one fell swoop, there are many other events that might kill you far sooner: slipping in the bathtub; a dog attack; a free-falling elevator or even a grizzly bear in Yellowstone Park.

Another point made by some gun enthusiast is that they are afraid of the government, but I fear the government failing to protect my air and water or amassing an army to smite another country’s teenagers far more than I fear my government coming after my guns. Besides, a wall full of AK-47s and a cellar full of ammo would not prevail against even a second rate swat team. And don’t forget they also have missile firing drones now that can blow the lid right off your bunker!

Maybe we need guns to protect ourselves from immigrants. Shoot them at the border. Too bad the First Americans didn’t think of that sooner.

Gary Montgomery,
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