Sorry about not writing much but
the weather has been uninspiring (I’ve only been out once on skis and once on
snowshoes and the thermometer when I awake over the past week has gone up and
down like an elevator. Last week, we had
a minus 11 degree morning followed a few days later by a plus 51 degree morning… But let’s not talk about the weather. There is something else I have
been meaning to write about… A few weeks
ago, I was driving to our capital city for a meeting and listening to NPR. The guest on the show was Bruce Levine, the
author of The
Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution That
Transformed the South.
At one point, in the interview, Levine was asked what would have
happened to slavery if it hadn’t been for the Civil War and he suggested that
it might have continued as an institute into the 20th Century. According to Levine (and I think he’s right),
it was the hardline position of some Southern politicians to defend slavery as
an absolute right (for the owners) without any discussion or compromise that
resulted in the ending of the institution.
Had they been willing to compromise, Levine noted that most abolitionists
in the north would have accepted a gradual freeing of the slaves that would
have taken place over decades.
This got me thinking, not about slavery but about gun rights. It seems that this week the gun debate has moved back into the forefront for a short while as Congress has kicked the other hot potato (budget deficits) down the road a bit. I wonder if the hardline position by the National Rifle Association, who seems so bend on refusing background checks and on the right to sell assault weapons and others that are not needed for hunting or personal safety, will actually backfire. Will they box themselves into a position like the Southern slave owners, which will eventually lead to a greater loss of rights? I should acknowledge that I am a gun owner and am proudly NOT a member of the NRA. While I have no plans on “giving up my guns,” I also think we need to be reasonable about who has access to weapons, where we can be in possession of such weapons, and what kind of weapons make sense for us to own.
When I was in Utah had had a column in the local newspaper and I satirically wrote about a gun proposal that was being debated (and eventually passed) in the Utah State Legislature. Maybe in a follow-up post, I’ll share with you some of the responses to both the column and to the whole debate as it related to the University of Utah.
Published in The Spectrum, St. George, Utah, January 18, 2002.
Our legislators are at it again. Since I moved to this state eight years ago, each session of that body, which gathers in Salt Lake during the inversions of winter, tries to outdo each other in liberalizing our gun toting laws. This year, they’re trying to insure our right to tote guns onto the campuses of our state’s colleges and universities. This they thought had been worked out back in ’95, when they passed our current gun toting laws. Since then, there have been battles over whether or not private groups can prohibit the on-site possession of firearms. Guns are allowed, according to our Attorney General, in universities. But our colleges and universities are in violation of the law. All but one college have rules prohibiting students, faculty and staff from toting guns into classrooms, libraries, cafeterias and sporting events. This gross miscarriage of justice will be a thing of the past if certain legislators have their way.
Earlier this week, Bernie Machen, president of the University of Utah, was called upon the carpet of our state legislature in order to explain why the U is breaking the law. Machen must be a true liberal for he believes academic debates need to be settled with logic and discussion and not the caliber of a sidearm. Personally, I thought our legislators had more pressing business at hand, such as finding tax cuts in a season of deficits. And I’m also sure that Machen had better things to do than to sit in a stuffy room and talk about how gun toting students and professors stymie academic debate.
I’ve never had a concealed weapons permit, though I do own a few guns from my squirrel hunting days. Now maybe I’m a bit naïve, but it seems perfectly clear why we should not allow guns at institutions of learning. After all, in elementary school I joined all the other boys singing little limericks about the demise of our teachers. We didn’t need to be tempted with the means to carry out such childish thoughts. And then there was the time in college when a cross-eyed professor transposed my “A” with another students “F.” I’m sure the other student thought it was manna from heaven, but it was a good thing I didn’t have a gun handy when I opened my transcript. These thoughts may seem silly, but an incident at Weber State in 1993, when a student at a disciplinary hearing pulled a gun and began shooting, remind us of the danger of weapons in inappropriate hands.
If our state legislators are so bent on us all toting arms, they should watch the world news and learn about difficulties the new Afghan government has controlling a country of armed citizens. Or they should watch video footage from Somalia where everyone has a gun and lawlessness reigns. If the reason to tote a gun is to provide us with the ability to protect ourselves, these countries are examples of what such protection, when carried to extremes, is worth.
Guns have no business being in our schools, colleges and universities. I say this as an old squirrel hunter who still has a few guns safely locked away. And unless there is a reason, that’s where they stay.