I have guns. I used to hunt; I don’t anymore. The guns just sit in the gun rack. I wipe them occasionally to keep them from rusting.
The news, sometimes our own eyeballs, show us some folks aren’t leaving their guns at home. They carry them to the gas station, to restaurants, to Food Lion, almost everywhere they go.
It’s particularly bad when they carry them to places where far-reaching decisions are made, where laws are passed, where citizens and elected officials discuss the pros and cons of policies and regulations.
Any important regulation has both pros and cons; the critical thing is finding a balance between them. That balance can’t be found without free discussion between people who care about our county, our state, and our country.
It’s impossible to have free discussion when the guy you’re talking to is carrying a gun. These days, guys are carrying guns in some very strange places.
They carried them into the Washington state Capitol in 2015, protesting a voter-approved measure that expanded background checks for gun purchases. They carried them to the Accomack County Administration Building in December 2019 as our board of supervisors debated a resolution in support of gun rights. They carried them into the Michigan Capitol in April of this year as legislators debated extending the governor’s emergency response to the pandemic. They carried them in front of Dr. Amy Acton’s home in May — she was head of Ohio’s Health Department — because they disagreed with her recommendations for preventing the spread of COVID-19.
And now protesters are carrying guns, sometimes shooting people, as debate about racial equity and police tactics rages across the country. Today’s political climate threatens
to cement this phenomenon through our contentious election season, perhaps even beyond it.
The core of our country’s power is not in our guns. It’s in our freedom of speech, in discussion and debate. In that forum, the strength of words and ideas wins the battle, as it did when the founding fathers hammered out our Constitution. The success of that battle is crippled when some debaters are carrying guns. They’re saying, “If I really disagree
with your side of the argument, I may shoot you.”
Let’s debate the ideas, vigorously. Maybe even yell a bit. But while we do, let’s leave our guns at home.