Show me the contents of a person’s wallet and I’ll outline their life. My skinny wallet, for example, holds just two credit cards (likes convenience, hates consumer debt), a grocery store discount card (cheapskate), a driver’s license, voter’s registration card and fishing license (name, address, age, dull life) as well as a blood donor card (O Positive).
Also, tucked inside the folded leather is 12 bucks (cheap and broke), a golf driving range card (doesn’t quit) and my Firearm Owner’s Identification, or FOID, card (gun owner).
The former doesn’t make me a Tiger Woods and the latter doesn’t make me a gun advocate. My FOID, however, made it legal to sit in a turkey blind two years ago when a friend’s son asked me to take him hunting after school. The then-acquired FOID also carried the added bonus of baptizing me a legal gun owner after nearly 35 years as an unwashed, illegal gun owner.
Not that being an illegal gun owner crimped my hunting-gathering ability. I hadn’t fired my rabbit-plinking, single-shot .22 or my 12-gauge pump in decades.
Not mine. Fact is, my guns aren’t even mine. Family members have held and, I suppose, even used them when I left hunting for college in 1973. After that, the gun-totin’ sports simply slipped from interest.
Since then, the closest I’ve gotten to guns is to occasionally fire some friends’ anti-aircraft sized pistols for the thunderous thrill of it and answer questions by rural readers and farm listeners when confronted on why I never challenge either gun laws or gun nuts in my column and speeches.
The answer is simple: I have no deep convictions on the fractious gun issue other than I favor tough regulation of handguns and want assault rifles limited to military use. (My assault rifle position, for those of you who suspect I was birthed by Jane Fonda and weaned by Hillary Clinton, is also held by President Bush.)
Outside those two exceptions, whatever society directs legislators to do or not do about long guns, hand guns and pop guns is fine by me. I do, however, despise gun advocacy groups who preach fear over fact – gun bans – to sway elections.
Hogwash. Their standard tactic is sweeping incrementalism: “If they ban assault rifles today, they’ll ban BB guns tomorrow.” That’s unsupportable hogwash.
Forty years of gun legislation hasn’t restrained one child’s BB trigger finger or banned one true sporting gun. Nor will the next 40 because most of society – you, me and our wallets – believe legal gun ownership is as American as owning pets or cars.
Sure, tougher regulations may come. But sporting guns, like sporting dogs and sports utility vehicles, will not be banned regardless how many of our cold, dead fingers go to eternity clutching cold, dead Golden Retrievers, rusting SUVs or pearl-handled .44s.
Even the 3-million-member National Rifle Association, the lobbying juggernaut with $20 million to pour into the heated 2006 election, has stopped preaching such baseless fear to Congress. According to the Oct. 12 Wall Street Journal, the NRA, a Red State vote-delivering machine, “is expecting to endorse as many as 60 Democrats in House and Senate elections” this year, nearly triple the number a few decade ago.
First. The move has two parts. First, the association, like everyone, guesses the Democrats could win either or both the Senate and the House and it’s good politics to back a perceived winner.
Second, the group, like other hook and bullet groups, has made inroads in teaching gun-doubting Dems about conservation and guns. Even Dem bashers like tax-hating Grover Norquist, a NRA board member, know it.
“They (the NRA) understand that the first time they oppose a Democrat who has been supportive of the gun issue, they lose that D vote,” Norquist told the Journal.
Rural gun toters and voters should take heed. When steel-hardened conservatives like Norquist see gun policy as more bipartisan, it’s a clear sign that Capitol Hill’s understanding of gun ownership has matured.
It also a clear sign that even Republicans know there are far larger caliber issues at stake Nov. 7 than guns.
(Alan Guebert’s Farm and Food File is published weekly in more than 75 newspapers in North America. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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