“Be vewy, vewy qwiet. I’m hunting wabbits.”
The key to the story is respect and responsibility… and upon further review, I’m not seeing much of either


I know several people that have… use… or by some definition are involved with guns for activities and recreation.

They hunt.

They spend time on a range.

And along with their pursuits, they are all thorough, careful, law abiding people that go to tremendous extremes to use these weapons safely and store them properly.

And I’ve been thinking about them alot these past few weeks.

It started when I read a few articles about concealed weapons and bars. My mind works in mysterious ways… so of course… one of the first thoughts was that if a person is licensed to carry a concealed weapon, and has it concealed, and orders a drink even though that part is a violation of the law… well… exactly how does the bartender know who does and who doesn’t have a weapon?

And while that one kind of struck me lightly and then I moved on… the theme came around again in recent days when I saw stories about people showing up near Obama appearances with weapons, such as an assault rifle. On this one I took into consideration the thoughts of local police and Secret Service representatives… where these agencies actually said they were ok with the guns at the demonstrations as long as they weren’t concealed and were legally possessed.

As I read these tales, I had some other general thoughts on the content as a whole as well as some of the issues involved. For instance...

If you were going in to a bar where you felt you needed a gun for protection, chances are you have a disconnect in your brain. Because that urge to carry the gun for protection into the bar should be a huge clue that you really don’t need to be in that bar with a gun to begin with. It’s a trouble-waiting-to-happen scenario.

And, as another example, why did some critics get the impression the guns at the demonstrations were loaded?

And still… the stories didn’t really strike me as amazingly troublesome.

Then I woke up a day later and a different thought struck me.

The people that I know… that have guns… use guns… and believe in every person’s right to own a gun… would never use a weapon in situations such as these. It’s too extreme… it pushes the wrong boundaries… it’s reckless and dangerous. They have far too much respect for the weapons to bring them into a bar or to a political rally.

Let’s take the article about the weapons being present at demonstrations outside appearances by President Obama.

According to the text we find there, people with guns have been present in New Hampshire and Arizona at events where Obama was nearby. The Secret Service points out that they understand the presence of the guns, plan for them, and these individuals would never get inside the building the president was in with these weapons. Local police are quoted as saying they understand their roll in all of this and recognize that it elevates emotions a notch or three. But both groups seem… well… amazingly calm and unfazed by the whole situation. The guns are there… the guns are there legally… all is good.

But then we get a quote from Paul Helmke, where he questions the presence of loaded guns near political events.

Whoa… whoa… whoa… loaded guns?

Scan the entire article. (Precviously posted at sfgate.com in August of 2009, no longer an active link). There are zero mentions of an assault rifle (the centerpiece of the story) or any other weapon being loaded. Except in Helmke’s quote: “When you bring a loaded gun, particularly a loaded assault rifle, to any political event, but particularly to one where the president is appearing, you’re just making the situation dangerous for everyone.”

At first I wanted to toss Helmke’s quote aside. Why? Well… two reasons actually. First, when I was reading the article I didn’t think anyone carrying a gun to such an event could be so stupid as to have it loaded. Never even considered it possible until I got to his comments. Carrying it is obviously making a very serious statement. As noted time and again, it takes what can be an emotional situation and increases the heat. Secondly, combine my concept about giving people credit for being smarter than that with Helmke’s personal interest in the situation. He happens to be the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Just a thought here, but I think he has an interest distinctly on one side of the debate.

Ah… but hold on. There’s the other article. Concealed weapons around alcohol. I made the comment about a person properly having a weapon and a permit to carry it while concealed. So far… legal. Then that person has a drink. Not legal.

And of course, the first response to remove all power from my comment is simple: with rights come responsibility, and part of that responsibility is not to drink. So no one possessing a gun would ever drink.

Quote time again. Senator Paula Aboud from Tuscon: “We don’t let people drink and drive, why should we let them drink and carry guns?”

Anyone want to debate Paula on this one? (Please don’t, because I really don’t want to link to the hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of places I’ll find when it comes to drinking and driving. The fact is, people do drink to excess and drive. And that means that it isn’t a stretch to believe that one… two… at least a handful of people will believe they can control their actions and no one will get hurt and they’ll carry a weapon and drink anyway. In short, the lit match babysitting the dynamite didn’t mean for anything bad to happen.)

And this brings us back to those people I know. I consider them responsible. And I don’t see any way they even get involved in this debate. It would never occur to them to carry a gun to a political event. They would never head out for a social evening and bring a gun with them to the bar. The respect for the weapon and the responsibility they believe is associated with having and using a weapon is too important to these people.

And that’s what suddenly bothered me about some of these stories when I gave it some additional thought.

Look… I hope I’m wrong for even raising the concept here. I hope the man with the assault rifle didn’t have it loaded and Helmke is wrong. If he didn’t have it loaded, then he went to an extreme with his demonstration, but at least I could see that he had some awareness of what he was doing and the possible reactions to his presence with it.

Unfortunately, history is filled with examples of people that claimed to know better… claimed it would never happen to them… and claimed that critics, in addition to other charges, were extremists, out of touch, and infringing on their rights.

And I can’t help but wonder if even Elmer Fudd, whether venturing to city hall or getting ready for an evening with friends, would head out on the town and leave his guns unloaded, properly secured, and safely at home.

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com