The gun debate rages on and everyone seems to have an opinion. Many of us are conflicted. I'm a gun owner. They aren't registered and I don't even know if they are required to be registered.. Of course, I would never shoot anyone who is not attacking me in my home with a weapon. What I shoot is gophers. Quite a few of them. I have found that for me, it is the most effective way to protect our garden (don't worry gardeners, I use steel shot). Our cat is a decent supplement to my efforts, but she has never got 5 in one day.
Though I am definitely what some would call a lily-livered liberal (whatever that is) and I support an assault weapons ban, I'm not big on trusting the government. Sorry, but there are obviously too many non-democratic forces with power in our government for me to feel comfortable that it is always going to act in the best interest of myself or the public .
I'm not worried about big brother coming to my home and confiscating my guns. If they are removing all weapons from the citizenry, then that is fine with me. They can have my guns. I don't hold some wild fantasy that I can “hold off” big brother with my fellow militiamen. The feds operate the most lethal killing machine ever known to humankind. I don't ever imagine myself in armed conflict with them. I would lose.
What bugs me is the whole idea of registration with the government. Of anything. The more they know about you , the more power they have over you. In most cases this is very benign. Local, state, and federal governments usually do have the best interests of the public in mind and civil servants typically try to be helpful and respectful. It is those cases when you as an individual are targeted for some reason by an agency that the relationship with government can change.
Conditions in public life change. Thousands of new laws are passed every year. What was legal before becomes illegal. Also, different agencies and different levels of government have different policies. Look at the folks who tried to go legal on pot a few years ago. Our sheriff, in an attempt to get a handle on medical pot growing created the so-called zip tie system in which growers could register with the county, pay a fee and get a tag to place on their legal plants. A little while later along comes the feds who don't recognize legal pot in any form and demanded the list of people who registered. As far as I know, the demand was refused and bully for our local officials if so.
The point is that anytime you declare yourself part of some activity, you are placing yourself within the aim of unknown regulation. That scares people.
On a more practical level, my support for an assault weapons ban is not going to make it happen. Not anytime soon anyway. But I have an alternative plan. It doesn't infringe on the right to own an AR-15, yet it keeps them out of the hands of everyone. The way it would work is that you may own an assault weapon, but it must be kept at a certified facility such as a gun range. That way sport shooters could still blast away with their favorite killing machine, but they could not take them into Denny's anymore.
The weapons would be kept securely locked at authorized facilities for the sole use of whomever the owners designate. The names of owners would not be readily available to any government agencies (courts can order anything), only to the operator of the facility. Shooting ranges, hunting preserves, and any other location could qualify to store the weapons as long as they abided by reasonable guidelines on security.
This should satisfy that vast majority of assault weapons owners who are not going to be mass murders, but just like to shoot lots of bullets really fast, yet prevent just any loser from buying a military weapon and slaughtering a bunch of people.
I went into a couple gun shops recently just to check out the vibe and see what was going on. Largely what I saw was a lot of consignment guns for sale. There was a very large variety of older and what I will call exotic guns. It seems real “gun nuts”, if you will, are into the esoterica of gun collecting and ownership. I think these are the people for whom the NRA was created, before it was taken over by the gun manufacturers. It is now the major lobbying arm of the gun industry. It is the perfect lobbying machine. Not only can it give out tens of millions in campaign cash it can mobilize tens of thousands of angry emails. No need for Russian bots. Many NRA members have been convinced by their own leadership that any move against gun ownership will lead to the ultimate and total confiscation of all guns. 62% of gun owners believe this. NRA CEO Wayne La Pierre recently said of the national media, “They hate individual freedom.” If you take into consideration my thinking earlier in this column, you will see that the slippery slope argument is very appealing.
Turning to a completely different subject, the Arena Theater is holding a board election at its annual membership meeting in April. Three board seats are up and two incumbents are not running again. As a board member myself (whose terms is not up) I urge anyone who might be interested in serving on this board to apply. The average age of current board members is well over 60 (closer to 70) with no one under 50 years old. If the theater is to continue to thrive, it needs a new generation to take the reins. Most of the current members were around for the remodel over 20 years ago. Perhaps the fact that the theater has managed to stay vital these last 2 decades has lulled the community into thinking that it is somehow automatic that the theater will be there doing well. That is not true. The only thing that keeps the Arena Theater going is the active participation of our staff and volunteers. Without member support, including board membership, the Theater will slowly atrophy. What will you do to prevent that? Or does it really matter to you?