(This column ran originally on Jan. 29, 2013 and seems most appropriate given what occurred with the weekend's mass shooting in Orlando).
I went to a family dinner at Applebee's on a recent Friday evening and one of my family members -- he shall remain unidentified -- was packing a .40-caliber handgun.
It didn't bother me in the least that he had a loaded handgun under his jacket. In fact, I felt secure because of it. You see, my relative has a permit to carry one for his own protection. Sheriff Adam Christianson gave it to him, as he has done for hundreds of others who demonstrate they are responsible for its handling.
The gun went through the door that night and then out. Nobody was killed. In fact, nobody but those at our table even knew there was a gun in the building.
A gun in the hand of righteous person is not to be feared. It is, however, when a lunatic gets a hold of one.
Let's imagine, for a moment, how things could have gone down that night. Let's say that another man -- with mental issues -- walked into the Riverbank eatery moments with his gun. He didn't come to eat but to kill. Before I can swallow the first bite of my Classic Clubhouse Grille, shrills and screams of women midway across the dining room shatter the loud chatter of happy social conversation. All talking instantaneously halts to a loud pop, pop, pop. All freeze and look in his direction. Bodies are slumping over tables as heads duck under tables and absolute pandemonium breaks out. Those who are running are being shot in the back.
This can't be happening. A mass killing is taking place. (Isn't that what high schoolers at Columbine thought?) The man appears to be singling out men but then turns the gun and blasts away a six-year-old girl trapped in her booth. The place is in absolute panic.
Something must be done but nobody rushes the gunman for fear of being his next victim. Before anyone can dial 911 on their cell phone, my relative pulls out his gun, rises, takes aim from across the room and drops the gunman with short squeezes of the trigger. Seconds of hell are ended by a force for good. The wanton killing spree is over and emergency personnel still have not arrived to triage victims. Instead of 31 being killed that night, the gunman was only to take out four victims. My relative's gun saves the lives of 27 innocent people, including your daughter or father, mother or brother, aunt or uncle.
Within hours, national TV and radio crews flock to Stanislaus County to cover yet another senseless American mass murder. People learn that someone stopped the man and say "Thank God someone killed him before he could do more damage." The story line should be about how a Good Samaritan with a gun, a mere tool, saved lives from the hands of a crazed gunman. But since the story does not fit in with the leftist media agenda of disarming America, the spin from the Wolf Blitzers of our nation's media focuses on gun violence in general and how we need to pass more gun control.
The rest of the nation is dumbfounded that media elitists can be so stupid.
In time, the horrible stains of that night can never be blotted out and the restaurant is leveled as a memorial goes up, forever reminding us what evil occurred on the spot. The gunman is a household name. My relative is not.
No, that morbid scene didn't happen there that night. But anyone who has their head out of the sand knows that it could happen any time anywhere. And if it does happen, I pray somebody in the crowd has a legally-possessed firearm to take care of matters because it won't be another four minutes for the first officer to arrive. By then it's too late.
I say more guns, not less, to make America safer.
If we finally want to deal seriously with mass shootings, it's time that we acknowledge a common aspect of these attacks: With a sole exception (the attack in Tucson where Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot), every public shooting in which more than three people have been killed since at least 1950 has occurred where citizens are not allowed to carry their own firearms. In the Newtown school attack, it took police 20 minutes to arrive after the first call for help.
Pure reactionaries are once again hijacking the debate over gun control.
It is a visceral reaction to the unspeakable horror of what happened in a Sandy Hook classroom in Newtown, Ct. We are rightly horrified, even more than when an Aurora, Colo., movie house was shot up during a Batman film. We recoil, wishing we could somehow turn back the hands of time and have been there to greet Adam Lanza at the school boundary with our own weapons. (The average American would gladly have volunteered to step up and say "This will not be permitted to our kids, dammit!")
Americans are used to the knee-jerk call for gun control. After the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, cries from the left shot up for gun control. They were always met with reasoned reminders that our Constitution gives us guarantees. Each time a school shooting occurs, we hear the same irrational pleas to do something about the tool, not the one who misuses it. (Funny how we don't hear about "car control" after some nut job uses one to deliberately kill others.) This time, however, we have a real fight on our hands from a power-drunk president who thinks he has a mandate to bulldoze over the Constitution.
What part of the Second Amendment do the Obama / Biden fail to understand?: "A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
I'm one happy camper over Sheriff Adam Christianson and other sheriffs across the country issuing decrees that they will not enforce new gun laws if passed by Congress and the president. Christianson and other sheriffs and police chiefs took oaths to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. (So did Obama and Biden; only Obama and Biden could care less about following it.) The left bellyaches that sheriffs don't have the power to ignore the law. Being that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, however, I appreciate when elected officials take a stand for the Constitution.
Reasoning is the casualty to emotion from the left. As Senator Diane Feinstein mounts another assault weapons ban (one was in effect from 1994 to 2004), the facts are that the Sandy Hook was not committed with a "military" weapon. Lanza used a Bushmaster .223. It bears only a cosmetic resemblance to the M-16, which has been used by the U.S. military since Vietnam. The civilian version of the Bushmaster uses essentially the same sort of bullets as small game-hunting rifles, fires at the same rapidity (one bullet per trigger pull), and does the same damage. The civilian version of the AK-47 is similar, though it fires a much larger bullet-.30 inches in diameter. No self-respecting military in the world would use the civilian version of these guns.
The Bushmaster is used as a hunting rifle only made to look like a military weapon. But the point isn't to just aid hunters. Semiautomatic weapons also protect people and save lives. Single-shot rifles that require one to physically reload may not do people a lot of good when they are facing multiple criminals or when their first shot misses or fails to stop an attacker.
Feinstein's original assault weapons ban did nothing to curb gun violence. In 2004, criminology professors Chris Koper, Jeff Roth and Dan Woods for the National Institute of Justice, published a study that concluded, "there has been no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence."
Since the federal assault weapons ban lifted in 2004, however, murder and violent-crime rates have fallen. In 2003, the last full year before the law expired, the U.S. murder rate was 5.7 per 100,000 people, according to the FBI. By 2011, the murder rate fell to 4.7 per 100,000 people.
Bear in mind that only 2.6 percent of all murders are committed using a rifle of any type.
It was a given in 1776 that Americans would bear and use arms for their personal defense as well as establish a nation. If we are honest, the Second Amendment was written as a guarantee that Americans own guns to protect household and against a tyrannical state. With government seeking to take rights away, a danger abounds that, just maybe, the stage is being set for a real fight over the Constitution.
I'd prefer to see us removal officials from office, starting at the top down, rather than start a new revolution for which the founding fathers kept the door open.
How do you feel? Let Jeff know by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org