Some thoughts on guns at the Festival

Being productive in debating gun laws

By James Baldree
Reader Contributor

Concerning the “controversy” over guns at the Festival, can we at least agree on a couple of points? Pro-gunners, given today’s realities, if the Festival loses the ability to prohibit weapons, then the Festival will have a harder time attracting performers. Anti-gunners, the Festival has yet to have a problem with an owner of a lawfully carried firearm. Pro-gunners, we may not like it, but we leave our lawfully carried weapons when we attend events at other venues. Anti-gunners, are you really that nervous about your friends, colleagues and neighbors being lawfully armed? 

Can we all agree that no sane person wants to see another mass shooting, murder or even a simple assault of any kind, anywhere, ever again? Both pro-gun and anti-gun? And if we all have the same goal, then maybe both sides have valid points that should be equally considered, and not simply dismissed due to perceived extremities in position? 

With the above in mind, let me posit the following to the more-gun-restrictions crowd. Stop blaming all gun owners for the acts of a few deranged individuals, and treating us as though we are the problem. Your rhetoric of “no one needs an assault rifle” is inflammatory at best, and insinuates that everyone who owns a modern sporting rifle is a crazed individual ready to commit mass murder at worst. 

What you consider an “assault rifle,” I consider to be a game gun, used for competitive purposes. My game guns are fired well over 10,000 times every year in practice and competition, yet none of them have ever been used in a hostile act, ever. Ignoring the constitutionality of the question for the moment, why should my ownership of my lawful property be forfeited or restricted because of someone else’s insane actions? 

These same types of firearms are used by our police every day. These men and women of law enforcement use them to serve and protect, not for nefarious purposes. Since we can all agree that our police are not hostile forces, how do you reconcile their defensive use of modern sporting rifles to protect the public? It would seem that the modern sporting rifle is simply a tool, and that it is the user’s intent that matters more than anything else. 

Driving accidents kill more people every year than firearms do, including all suicides and mass shootings. Yet there doesn’t seem to be a huge uproar for smaller “smart” cars with built-in breathalyzer ignition interlocks. Is this because you believe drivers to be sane, responsible individuals until they prove themselves otherwise? Or is it because it would affect a modern and useful, but potentially dangerous, technology that you care about and rely upon, and not one in which you have no interest in and are afraid of? 

Anti-gunners, please realize that you have neither the technical background, nor the doctrine of usage knowledge to make a logical argument as to what is necessary for the design, maintenance, storage and operation of any firearm. For that matter, most gun owners probably don’t, either. But, since it is something that gun owners care about and that affects them directly, they tend to listen to the subject matter experts. For the record, every gun rights-restricting organization is only an expert on restricting rights, not on the actual firearms themselves. 

Gun owners, the same as all Americans, would love to find effective ways to eliminate violence of all kinds, including mass shootings. We are your allies in the fight to keep crazy at bay. Let’s work together to find ways to identify, treat and institutionalize, if necessary, the mentally and criminally insane people that commit these horrible and tragic crimes. And let’s find ways that don’t infringe upon the 99.9999% of normal Americans that are your friends and neighbors. And for the love of all things holy, can we identify what is causing these people to engage in this evil and insane behavior? 

Reflecting back upon my first paragraph, private property owners and lessees of public property will make decisions as to their safety and the safety of their guests, based on what they think is best. If one disagrees with their philosophies and methods, then one is free to avoid those places. There will inevitably be compromises made to solve these issues. Just remember that a compromise involves both sides gaining something, and both sides giving up something. Demanding that gun owners further forfeit their rights and be treated as suspect criminal, insane, potential mass shooters is not a compromise. It is discrimination at its worst, and will do nothing to solve any problem or increase public safety.

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