The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

Another newspaper editorial writer shows his ignorance on gun-issues.

Posted by Bill Nance on November 10, 2008

An editorial published yesterday in the Pittburgh Post-Gazette:

Who knew that paranoia could be such an economic stimulant? As The New York Times reported Friday, gun owners are stocking up on handguns, rifles and ammunition because they fear Mr. Obama will curb their rights of gun ownership. “He’s a gun-snatcher,” the Times quoted a gun shop owner in Houston as saying. “He wants to take our guns from us and create a socialist society policed by his own police force.”

Admittedly, not all gun buyers currently opening their wallets are likely to be infected with such a level of right-wing hallucination, but even at the fringes this impulse is not logical. Guns were hardly an issue for Mr. Obama during the campaign, and his infamous comment about people who “cling to guns and religion” was a ham-fisted way of expressing sympathy for those in depressed rural areas, not a contemptuous promise to change their ways.

Gun owners survived the Clinton administration and they will survive the Obama administration. Earlier this year the U.S. Supreme Court for the first time defined gun ownership as an individual right, not a collective one, a ruling that would be binding on any president. Regardless of what might be proposed in the way of new gun laws, the basic right will remain inviolate.

Mr. Obama preached nothing but moderation on the campaign trail, despite Republican efforts to twist his words. He is also smart enough to know that he will be a one-term president if he really could gut the Second Amendment.

The United States is a free country and it will remain a free country. People are free to flock and buy guns if they want to, but this boomlet is no more sensible than the run on duct tape at another paranoid moment in recent memory.

My response:

I read your editorial of 9 November,  “Off target: America’s gun-buying spree makes no sense,” and must respectfully disagree with both your portrayal of gun owners and of our legitimate concerns.
In the editorial, you quote someone as saying: “He [Obama] wants to take our guns from us and create a socialist society policed by his own police force.”

Firstly this is a caricature. While such foaming at the mouth idiots exist, they exist in every community. If I tried I could find equally daft people on the fringes of every issue. Second, this smear tactic is typical from the MSM. Whether through simple ignorance and lack of exposure on the part of their reporters and editors to firearms, or irrational fear of them, the MSM misunderstand gun owners and quote the most extreme person they can find rather than someone expressing a rational and healthy concern about the left’s long-running campaign to incrementally strip us of our firearms rights.

I not only voted from President-elect Obama, I campaigned for him. And yet I too will be stocking up on some items I anticipate will be banned or made difficult to obtain. While gun control was not a signature issue of the campaign, there are many Democrats in congress who feel much more passionately about the issue than Barack Obama, Speaker Pelosi being among them. It will take a real effort on behalf of Mr. Obama to say no to his own party on these issues and I remain highly skeptical of his ability and willingness to do so.

You’re right in that it is a paranoid fantasy to think there will be large-scale gun confiscation. However I fully expect a new “assault weapons” ban to be passed within the next year or so. The issue is too important to too many urban Democrats to pretend there will be no attempts at further unnecessary regulation.

The so-called “assault weapons” ban outlawed many guns and gun-related items which firearms enthusiasts routinely use, including standard-issue magazines on literally hundreds of firearms. People I know are starting to stock up on are precisely these sorts of items, available again after the gun-banning portion of the law was allowed to sunset. We also expect  a potential new tax on ammunition or firearms, as well as other decidedly anti-gun measures.

What your editorial shows is that like many who don’t participate in the sport, you simply don’t realize there are several million sportsmen in the country who use firearms for things besides hunting. For many of us, competition handgun shooting, rapid-fire (not fully automatic)  tactical pistol and rifle competition and other sports, even Olympic pistol shooting, require the exact sorts of weapons, magazines and gunsights which the AWB made illegal.

We people, your law-abiding neighbors, co-workers and friends, are tired of having to defend our constitutional rights from assault or having to explain to people why we should be able to participate in sports we have enjoyed for decades.

The question often posed by anti-gunners is: “as long as you can own a six-shooter and a hunting rifle why do you care what else we ban?”

The answer to this is simply that the question itself displays a vast misunderstanding of the literally hundreds of different shooting sports which use firearms other than these two types. We should no more have to justify this than you should have to justify your love of cars that travel in excess of 65 mph.

We have a fundamental right to keep and bear arms. That right was established both to provide for personal defense as well as a curb on the ability of a strong central government adopted in 1789 to impose tyranny on a disarmed populace.

The vast majority of us are not foaming-at-the-mouth reactionaries, we do not hide in bunkers, we do not look for “black helicopters” or anything else the lunatic fringe are reported to believe in. We come from all political persuasions and are members of both major parties.

The mainstream media need to stop unfairly and inaccurately portraying us as lunatics. The caricatures are both factually incorrect and deliberately misleading to your readers.

Hat tip: GOAL

Edit* A careful reader of this letter alerted me to the fact that I was incorrectly naming the Brady Hangun Control Act when I meant to refer to the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. I have changed the text to correct this error and thanks to the person who corrected me.

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One Response to “Another newspaper editorial writer shows his ignorance on gun-issues.”

  1. […] While gun control was not a signature issue of the campaign, there are many Democrats in congress who feel much more passionately about the issue than Barack Obama, Speaker Pelosi being among them. It will take a real effort on behalf …[Continue Reading] […]

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