Saturday, May 21, 2005

Who are the real bullies in the gun ban debate?

I take considerable exception, and not a small amount of umbrage, at the recent commentary about "Gun Bullies" that appeared in the paper May 11. Columnist Bill Nemitz writes of recent threatening letters sent to legislators who have proposed a variety of gun bills this year. Despite a token denial, the essence of his piece was that nutty gun owners bully harmless legislators who are only trying to do the people's business. OK, the writer has a point. Of the hundreds of thousands of gun owners in Maine, a few, a very few, go off the deep end and write very nasty notes to our legislators. Nevertheless, I want to lay out the other side - to ask instead whether or not there are other "bullies," real ones with real power, who are also involved in this discussion.

We live in a state that has a very precise and clearly written constitutional right to keep and bear arms. As the Maine Constitution says in Section 16: "To keep and bear arms: Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned." No ambiguity. No way to misconstrue either the meaning or intent of the Maine Constitution. Yet, in every session, we find ourselves confronted by some legislators who simply act as though the constitution was unimportant. They not only want to "question" it, they want to legislate this right away, bit by bit.

Every year citizens - who are not being paid by taxpayers for their time - must write, speak, and take vacation to go to Augusta to fight these bills. Time and again we see the same cast of characters use their elected office to push an agenda not wanted by the public or allowed by the constitution, offering a "solution" to a problem that simply does not exist and that has never, ever worked anywhere it has been tried. Every session we hear exaggerations, made-up numbers, claims of benefits not backed by fact, appeals to emotion and flat- out lies used to reduce a fundamental right. This gets very old indeed. Gun owners are fed up.....

Who are really the bullies? Well, who controls government? Who can pass laws? Who has the entire power of government behind their legislative acts? It certainly is not individual gun owners. It is not organized groups of gun owners. It is not even the very few nuts who write threats. No, it is the legislators themselves who propose laws that attack our basic rights who are the bullies. Then they complain, "Those nasty citizens write mean things about us."

Some legislators even say they fear gun-owning citizens. Let me make this very clear: There are tens of thousands of citizens outside of Augusta who spend every day the Legislature is in session afraid of what those with the real power to affect all our lives might do. Our homes, our wallets, our families - and our guns - are not safe while the Legislature is in session.

More here

Pennsylvania: Voters say yes to victim disarmament: "With nearly all the votes counted tonight, Philadelphians endorsed by a ratio of 4-1 a charter change that asks the state legislature and governor to let the city draft its own laws 'to prevent and reduce gun violence.' Because the measure is non-binding, the lopsided results do not guarantee action in Harrisburg. Rather, sponsors hope public opinion will pressure the state to amend state law and give Philadelphia the authority to enact tougher gun-control laws."

California: Off-duty officer shoots would-be carjacker : "A masked, shotgun-carrying man shot by an off-duty Oakland police officer during an attempted carjacking is recovering from his injuries, authorities said. Ceasar Johnson ... has been arrested on suspicion of carjacking, attempted robbery and illegal possession of a sawed-off shotgun, police said. Oakland police Officer Ted Jew had just finished working an overtime shift on Sunday when he stopped at a gas station to fuel his Mercedes Benz. Police said Johnson, wearing a mask and carrying the shotgun, began walking toward Jew. Jew pulled a semiautomatic pistol he carries while off duty and fired at Johnson, hitting him several times. The shotgun turned out to be fully loaded, police said."

No comments: