Limited Taxation
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Barbara's Column
June 1999 #2

Go Ahead ... Make the Gun Lobby's Day

Last week I joined the NRA.

Until recently, the National Rifle Association didn't interest me: I just wanted the right to own guns, not worship them.

I don't care to collect them, display them, or read magazines about them.

The children would have to be very hungry or chased by something that was, before I'd shoot an animal.

Every time I read that poem about the goose who covers her dead, shot mate with her wings and mourns, I cry.

Therefore, being called a "gun nut" just because I want the right to defend myself, seems odd to me. I grew up in western Pennsylvania, where my male relatives all owned guns. None of us kids ever touched them unless adults were supervising; none of us shot our classmates, our parents, or by accident, ourselves.

To the best of my knowledge, no one was every murdered with a gun in my home town.

Of course, we weren't allowed to play in the woods during hunting season because, it was explained to us, "city people who aren't used to guns come here, get drunk, and shoot anything that moves." The gun-educated natives were not a threat, to children nor to the local cows.

As well as household items, guns were a part of American history to me. When the nuns taught us the Bill of Rights, they explained that the reason for the Second Amendment was to ensure that people could defend themselves from a government turned hostile.

This made sense to me. I'd heard the family stories about villagers back in Croatia being shot by Tito's communists. I read a Leon Uris novel about Polish Jews desperate for arms with which they could defend themselves from the Nazis. I studied American history, about the redcoats trying to confiscate Minuteman weapons so our patriots could not fight for independence. And I dreamed of someday visiting that bridge in Concord, where was fired "the shot heard round the world."

I never dreamed that it would be in Sam Adams' Massachusetts that I would hear the phrase "gun control" for the first time.

At first I thought the nuns had it wrong; maybe the Second Amendment didn't really give me the right to bear arms? So I read it again: "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." The sisters also taught me how to parse a sentence; it's clear that the dominant thought is the right of the people, regardless of the rationale for it.

History is on my side of the gun issue, and so is common sense. Hard as the police may try, they can't give us each personal protection, so we must take some responsibility for protecting ourselves and our families from criminals. Women especially, less able to fight with our fists, should know how to handle a gun.

I have never needed a restraining order -- the kind of men who threaten their girlfriends are cowards who don't usually mess with women of my size and temperament -- but if I did, I'd like to know I could go directly from court to the gun store and get myself defense.

Eventually I decided it was time to join the organizations that have been defending my right to defend myself. First I became a member of Gun Owners Action League, the state organization which is fighting the law that Beacon Hill passed last fall -- the one that didn't let veterans march with their guns in parades, or historical reenactors use their antiques, until legislators admitted they hadn't read it and changed some of the sillier provisions. Then last month, when we Second Amendment supporters were blamed for school shootings, I realized that it was time to join Charlton Heston too.

Bet I'm not the only one. Is this what the gun-control advocates really want, to build the membership of the NRA? Maybe they don't know about "the law of unintended results." Or maybe, in their irrational fear of inanimate objects, they're just a little nuts, themselves.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation.  Her syndicated columns appear in the Salem Evening News, the Lowell Sun, the Tinytown Gazette and MediaNews Group newspapers around the state.

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