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Nothing to Fear But Fear (of Tyranny) Itself

The irony of those opposed to stronger gun laws shouting 'It’s not guns, it’s mental illness!' (aside from the hypocrisy of simultaneous mental health funding cuts)? Some gun rights activists might be considered way out of touch with reality t

Wow, my fellow advocates for safer gun laws have really got folks up in arms now! (Yes, sad pun intended).

It seems everyone is talking, lots of you angrily, especially in comments to my previous columns. Some conversation about the gun issue is better than none at all — I’m for it if it increases the number of voices asking for saner, safer gun laws and speaking out against the ever-powerful (and rich) gun-rights lobby. I’m for it if it encourages rational dialogue between those on both sides looking for logical middle ground to make us all safer.

But not all conversation about gun safety is created equal, especially when it seems to come from a section of the population that may have lost its grip on the reality of where the majority stands.  

I’m not talking about those who misquote history — no, Hitler did not disarm civilians before ramping up his aim at European conquest. I’m not writing about those who twist facts, wrongly saying that, “More guns means less violence.” I’m not even referring to those who suggest women are safer when armed, despite facts that show the sad opposite.

Those individuals are more accurately inaccurate and misguided at best, deceptive at worst. As much as it makes my skin crawl to hear the argument that, “Guns don’t kill, people do,” or that an “inanimate object” can’t be to blame, I’ll accept that as rationalization and an attempt to deflect ceding any ground at all in the discussion about how to prevent more gun violence.

What I’m deeply afraid of is the minority of gun rights advocates who think we are nearing the end of the world and the only thing preventing us from Armageddon is the Second Amendment.

Let’s hear from Wayne LaPierre, the CEO of the NRA, who in the glory of all the recent media and governmental spotlight has started to show his increasing detachment from the way the majority of responsible gun owners and NRA members believe.

During last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on gun violence he responded to a question from Sen. Dick Durbin (IL), asking whether he agreed with gun owners who say they, “’need the firepower and the ability to protect ourselves from our government — from our government, from the police — if they knock on our doors and we need to fight back.’”

LaPierre’s response: “Senator, I think without any doubt, if you look at why our founding fathers put it there, they had lived under the tyranny of King George and they wanted to make sure that these free people in this new country would never be subjugated again and have to live under tyranny.”

LaPierre’s other fear, as he told the committee? “What people all over the country fear today is being abandoned by their government. If a tornado hits, if a hurricane hits, if a riot occurs that they’re going to be out there alone. And the only way they’re going to protect themselves in the cold and the dark, when they’re vulnerable, is with a firearm. And I think that indicates how relevant and essential the Second Amendment is in today’s society to fundamental human survival.”

I think it indicates how very much the rest of us need to be afraid of LaPierre and company being afraid simultaneously that the government will come or that the government will not come.

Did either of those things happen during Hurricane Sandy or any other disaster? Has any of that happened here since we gained our freedom from King George?

But in their world, the government is coming for us and our guns. The police and the U.S. armed forces not only can’t or won’t protect us, but they’re the ones we need to defend against.

I’m even further confused by the kind of arguments being made to defend the paranoia. The weapons of choice aren’t lethal, they’re not military grade, and us ‘anti-gun zealots’ are ignorant when it comes the differences between semi-automatic, automatic and assault weapons. But suddenly these same non-lethal weapons are the only things standing between law-abiding gun owners and the most skilled, technologically advanced military force of the modern era!

Is it rational to think that the anachronistic interpretation of the Second Amendment is really about protecting you from the kind of tools at the disposal of today’s U.S. military, should some crazy idea seep into the head of either the current occupant of the Oval Office — despite every clue to the extreme opposite — or another kook-with-delusions-of-grandeur from within or without our borders?

With that 'logic,' why stop at the right to bear semi-automatic guns? Any kind of weapon should be allowed just in case we get attacked by our own government, in order to even out the military playing field. In the meantime, these same weapons are great additions to the array of sport hunters’ options.

Why not make rocket launchers legal? We’ve got lots of wide open spaces in Connecticut. Since semi-automatic rifle hunting is such sport, why shouldn’t I be able to see how a tree or a deer explodes when it meets a rocket on my private property? Plus, with that state-wide deer problem we have, why opt for just bow-hunting when land mines could be so much more effective!

Instead of a rational reaction to rising death-by-gun rates, instead of a 100-percent, collective response to yet another despicable mass murder (albeit nothing like ever before, given that it was 20 6- and 7-year-olds and their teachers who were gunned down), we hear, “They’re comin’ for our guns!” and “Laws don’t work because criminals don’t obey them!” and the like. No, it’s not the majority response from those on the side of fewer gun laws, but it’s the loudest, and it comes from the leadership — like the NRA.

In fact, the NRA’s list of enemies has recently made the rounds of published information. Here are some of those who the gun lobby insists pose grave threat to responsible gun owners: 

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics
  • The American Medical Association
  • The American Federation of Teachers
  • The American Jewish Committee
  • The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
  • The Children’s Defense Fund
  • The Episcopal Church
  • Maya Angelou
  • Bob Barker
  • Kevin Costner
  • Sean Connery
  • Geraldo Rivera
  • Doug Flutie
  • Sylvester Stallone
  • Blue Cross Bue Shield of Kansas City
  • Sara Lee Corp.
  • The St. Louis Rams
  • McCall’s Magazine
  • And countless others

Two years ago, I wound up on something called a “Bang List” compiled by one gun rights publication simply for suggesting that parents ask other parents if there was a gun in the home as part of the conversation they should have before deciding where their children should play. It seemed simple conversation was something to be afraid of, too.

I’ve got to think that the growing list of people recently challenging the NRA – especially former supporters or those who were more likely to let Wayne LaPierre’s words go unchecked, like Joe Scarborough or FOX Network’s Chris Wallace (who called the  NRA head ‘ridiculous’) — might be a tip off that he is increasingly representing the minority, fringe view.

An irrational, fringe view like the one that we shouldn’t have any gun laws because criminals won’t obey them.

"Why do we have any laws on the books?" Scarborough challenged. "There are terrorists that are going to end up getting into the United States of America, so why do we even try to stop al-Qaeda? Right? They say they’re going to attack us again, so why don’t we let down all of our defenses and just give up?"

How about something more parallel: if criminals still get access to illegal drugs, to use, sell and traffic, then why have anti-drug laws? Why mount a war on drugs at all?

The rest of us get to put up our lives as collateral against the minority hedging their bets that the government bogeyman is going to come calling to take away their liberty, our laws don’t work, and those we’ve empowered to protect us will only abandon us in the end. I guess from that irrational viewpoint, the American lives already lost as collateral damage are worthy prices to pay for the unlikeliest of unlikely worst-case scenarios.

You want irrational? As Garry Trudeau eloquently illustrates in his cartoon strip from this past weekend, our country spent trillions of dollars (and sacrificed thousands of U.S. soldiers) waging two long, bloody wars overseas and building up our Homeland Security operations, after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. During those same nine years, 270,000 Americans were killed by gun violence right here at home. And gun laws have been weakened, rather than strengthened.

Let’s not forget the 1,509 lives lost since Newtown (as of Jan. 31), the 35 mass shootings between Columbine and Newtown, the week-long hostage situation in Alabama, where a man was holed up in his backyard bunker after shooting and killing a bus driver (who died defending his bus-load of children) and kidnapping one five-year-old.

Now that’s more insane than anything at all.

Brian February 07, 2013 at 12:16 PM
NRA was once a responsible organization until the leaders found how much money could be made by becoming a spokesman for gun manufacturers. Result: big money for NRA. To paraphrase Jenny Holzer: Fear is the most elegant weapon; your hands never are messy.
Fairfield Old Timer February 07, 2013 at 01:57 PM
Dear Heather, When are we going to Ban cars? Over 30,000 people are KILLED each year by cars! We don't NEED cars. People could take Public Transportation or Walk or Ride a Bike! We Must BAN Cars Now!!!!
Brian February 07, 2013 at 02:09 PM
Nobody's gonna pry the keys from my hand. HA!
R. Ludlowe February 07, 2013 at 02:15 PM
Great piece. The paranoia of the extreme pro-gun groups will ultimately be their undoing. Years from now, people will say "if they had only been able to hold civilized, responsible and mature conversations, perhaps it would have gone down differently." Instead I feel like we are dealing with a crazed group that is preparing for the Zombie apocalypse as much as they fear the return of King George's tyranny.
R. Ludlowe February 07, 2013 at 02:17 PM
Wow, we haven't heard that lame argument before, FOT. How did you ever come up with such a compelling argument?!? Brilliant!
Truthseeker57 February 07, 2013 at 02:56 PM
I was going to have a well thought out response to this post but then I got to the point where you start talking about rocket launchers and exploding deer. You point your finger at the NRA, a group I mostly dislike, for being fanatics, you have no problem bringing your argument out to the same lunacy. And then you wonder why nothing changes. Good work. As you think about those senseless murders, I'll think about people like Dr. Petit who sat there and listened to his wife and daughters being raped and burned alive. Maybe if that guy had a gun...
rottyfan February 07, 2013 at 04:05 PM
Sigh...more drivel from Ms. Herve. I just checked and she never did have the balls to defend that dishonest piece of crap she posted, "Bearing Witness at the Gun Violence Hearing."
Sandra February 07, 2013 at 05:05 PM
Ludlowe- "Great piece" LOL
Truthseeker57 February 07, 2013 at 05:26 PM
Making non-constructive comments like this has ruined the site. It's pretty much a handful of you people going after each other and derailing conversations into your own little fights.
Sandra February 07, 2013 at 05:31 PM
Heather mentions NRA's supposed "list of enemies". She is on a "Bang list". Join the club. So many are on lists these days. Obama's "kill lists" including American citizens. Homeland Security "terror watch list" has over one million suspects. Any pro-life folks or flag wavers? Somebody's watching You. This is what the universities are teaching our future generations. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/11/27/1165191/-Why-I-Don-t-Wave-the-American-Flag
Sandra February 07, 2013 at 05:43 PM
Truthseeker-Sandra is ruining the site. As far as I know we still have Freedom of Speech in this country. You can choose not to participate in dialogue that seems to be beneath you. Do you have anything "constructive" to say about Heather's one-sided attacks? Heather's "non-constructive" fictional contributions are ruining the integrity of the Patch. She is fueling emotions with her vitriol.
Truthseeker57 February 07, 2013 at 06:06 PM
Freedom of Speech is a citizen's right, granted by the creator that is observed by the US Government. The Patch is not the US Government. It is a privately owned and operated business. Therefore, you do NOT have the freedom of speech here. It's the same way a business can tell you not to bring guns into their establishment. They have no obligation to observe your second amendment rights. I do not share Ms. Borden Herve's sentiments on gun control but this is an opinion piece that The Patch and Ms. Mazzola choose to run. Ms. Borden Herve has no obligation to present factual arguments in an opinion piece but needs to remember that if she quotes something as fact, she may very well be refuted by the audience. You may also want to write a counter opinion piece and see if Ms. Mazzola will publish it. In one post, you have shown you have no understanding of the US Constitution and cannot comprehend the difference between news and opinion. I have a feeling that you have a tenuous grasp on reality.
TJC February 07, 2013 at 06:31 PM
Its not just about choosing to participate, Sandra. You and your cronies go after anyone that has the least bit of a liberal stance on *anything* and then you post 1000 times, basically bombing the conversation for everyone else. Your post above is an example of it. Stay on Facebook. The rest of us are trying to be adults here.
Bob MacGuffie February 07, 2013 at 08:21 PM
Heather - Your article is totally comprised of ridicule, misrepresentation, strawman analogies, and endless verbosity - THAT does not a case make. The fact is that the Liberals running our Republic and our state would like nothing less than completely disarming the U.S. citizenry - just ask them personally and they'll tell you. The only thing preventing them from banning guns today are legislators who defend the 2nd Amendment, fortified by citizens willing to hold them to account. Read the debates at the Constitutional Convention and you too will realize the purpose of the 2nd Amendment. For those of you who haven't contemplated it - WE must defend our Constitution - if not us, who will.....our govt-growing legislators and complicit judges - they will not. Gun control is on the agenda today because those that would dissolve the 2nd Amendment see an opportunity to exploit the emotion of the season. Our self-righteous "rulers" should concentrate their feeble minds on enforcing the current gun control laws. Passing another law and/or tax is nothing but a placebo.
Caitlin Mazzola (Editor) February 07, 2013 at 08:57 PM
Just to clarify, both Heather Borden Herve and Lisa Bigelow are columnists who each contribute weekly to Patches in both Fairfield & New Haven counties. Their topics and columns are approved each week by senior-level editors (more on that below) and then distributed to the local Patches. Anyone who wants to write a counter-opinion may do so by emailing a letter to the editor to me at caitlin.mazzola@patch.com. If you have an issue with Patch running Heather's columns, you need to contact either Associate Regional Editor Chandra Johnson-Greene at chandra@patch.com or Senior Regional Editor Michael Dinan at michaeld@patch.com to discuss. Again, any counter-opinions are welcome and I would be more than happy to run them. Email them to caitlin.mazzola@patch.com.
TJC February 07, 2013 at 10:55 PM
Bob, if all that you say is true, then why are the NRA/conservative/gun-enthusiasts also so dead set against any type of regulation or improvements to the existing laws? What you seem to say is that the "liberals" are set on just disarming everyone. What I hear everywhere, just to counter your point, is that the conservative NRA vote will not entertain ANY changes to regulation, ATF empowerment/restoration or general improvement in the process. This has GOT to be a compromise, don't you think? For every liberal that is saying "take all guns" there is at least one conservative saying "no change whatsoever." The sooner both sides can realize that we need some constructive debate and compromise, the sooner (I believe) that both sides will walk way believing that they have gained something.
Bob MacGuffie February 08, 2013 at 01:56 AM
TJC - Yes, the much-touted "compromise" on the fiscal and debt issues means "spend more and accumulate more debt, just not as much". Compromise on immigration means "do something rational for the illegal immigrants already here but don't dare secure the border." Compromise on gun control means "erode the 2nd Amendment a little further but not as far as we want" but don't enforce the gun control already on the books. Republicans and Conservatives have "compromised" with Liberals for the last 60 years and the govt has grown out of control and the country is technically bankrupt. We could now use a couple decades of unwinding federal programs and getting the federal govt in line with the Constitution. Remember, govt is supposed to be our servant. Right now it's our master and if we do not turn it back we will soon be its serfs..............and that is as certain as tomorrow's sunrise.
R. Ludlowe February 08, 2013 at 02:31 AM
So, TJC, that means that Stubborn Bob ain't gonna compromise with no lib'rals! He thinks you and he are going to all turn into some kind of Tolstoy-like serfs because of the last 60 years of spending (how many republican presidents have we had in the last 60 years?). Republicans have been constantly compromising and democrats haven't been, apparently. Don't worry, I don't understand it either. I am pretty sure his next post will be about the zombie blizzard. Lock 'n load!
Sandra February 08, 2013 at 02:50 AM
According to Truthseeker I DO NOT have freedom of speech here. Do you own the Patch? Ms. Mazzola twice repeated any counter-opinion is welcome. You said Ms. Herve's contributions are her opinions with no obligation to provide facts. Why do you hold my comments to a higher standard even though I provide facts? Heather's inflammatory remarks get excused such as "I’d love to see the fringe right as well clamoring for ways to end the killing of inner-city, mostly minority youth due to gun violence, the same way they clamor for ‘unborn children.’ In the same way they line up outside abortion clinics and protest funding for Planned Parenthood using imagery of aborted fetuses, I’d like to see them holding signs showing what the murdered children of Sandy Hook looked like." The fact is that I am not a liberal and you do not agree with me so my speech should be ridiculed as not based in reality and limited to what TJC one comment per day? If Ms. Mazzola wants me off the Patch, please let me know. Trurthseeker accused me without examples or facts "In one post, you have shown you have no understanding of the US Constitution and cannot comprehend the difference between news and opinion. I have a feeling that you have a tenuous grasp on reality.
Bob MacGuffie February 08, 2013 at 03:00 AM
R. Ludlowe - you prove my point!!! There have been five Republican presidents in the past 60 years and the govt goes on growing relentlessly. The last time a budget was cut was 1947. At just what point do you think this ruling class would voluntarily stop furthering the control over our lives. Just think about these observations and what they could portend, rather than bouncing back with your ridicule.
Nonsense February 08, 2013 at 04:48 AM
Does anyone care (or know) about the gun enthusiast who lives next door?? Most likely not!! They are the people who load up their trucks and drive to the Wallingford range each weekend and plunck away. I know, because when I was in 2nd grade in the early 70's thats what i did with my dad!! I dont go there no, its kinda boring...nor do my kids shoot... the objective here should be,...how do we separate the f'ing loons from the people who like to target shoot/hunt?!?!? Stop with the G.D. extreme positions on both sides...how do you ID someone who is f'ing crazy and keep them from getting guns in their hands if possible!!!
Truthseeker57 February 08, 2013 at 02:12 PM
See? This is the stuff I'm talking about. You don't want to discuss the issue. You want to pick fights with other people. This isn't discussing the issue. If you want to play this game, fine. I have nothing to do. You were trying to go after R. Ludlowe for sharing his opinion like you always do. You weren't sharing your opinion. You like to see things devolve into your brand of idiocy. Your comments are being held to the same standard as I hold others. The difference is you fail to reach the threshold. I do not own The Patch. It's their choice who posts here. Caitlin actually said "Anyone who wants to write a counter-opinion may do so by emailing a letter to the editor to me at caitlin.mazzola@patch.com." But like I said, you aren't even doing that. You are purposely trying to pick a fight.
R. Ludlowe February 08, 2013 at 02:47 PM
Yes, Bob. 5 of the 11 presidents in the last 60 years have been Republicans (if we start with Eisenhower taking office in 1953). More than one served multiple terms, so we've had 36 years of Republicans in the Oval Office versus 24 years of Democrats. So are you now backing our of your argument and saying that its a problem -in general- with government? Because you certainly started this as an anti-Democratic rant IMO. Remember this statement? "Republicans and Conservatives have "compromised" with Liberals for the last 60 years and the govt has grown out of control and the country is technically bankrupt. " Your turn.
James R M.D. February 08, 2013 at 03:12 PM
TJC needs to relax just a tad and understand that he needs to welcome comments he may not agree with it, I thought that was the purpose of such a forum! Otherwise he should find another outlet!!!! I am also appalled at the constant ungrateful, uncalled for whining about Ms.. Mazzola. It's a good day to go kite flying!!!!!
Bob MacGuffie February 08, 2013 at 03:57 PM
R Ludlowe - No rants here. If you would just recognize that govt is destined to grow into every corner of our lives that would be an achievement. Our Constitution is written to limit that growth by law, but Congress and the courts have enabled so much federal "law" that is unauthorized. The Republican Party since 1912 has stood for limited constitutional government. Some of it's leaders (too few) have actually acted in accordance with the Party's principles, but too many have not. Prior to GWB those Republican presidents had to govern with a Democrat-controlled Congress. The "compromising" went on in the trenches and the govt grew rapidly till the Republican Congress of '94, which disciplined Clinton until a balanced budget was achieved in '98. The bottom line is Liberal Democrats BELIEVE in ever-increasing govt - that's their principle and guiding stars. You need to understand that the conservative grassroots insurgency within the Republican Party is trying to get Republicans to stand up for and govern based on their Party's principles. The conservative insurgency is the only hope for avoiding national bankruptcy and a government mastering our lives rather than the other way around. Rest assured, when Obama's "fundamental transformation of America" finally sets in and everyone recognizes it for what it is - we conservatives will not be the ones with egg on our faces. But we will largely be forced to share the fate with the electorate which gave him the power.
cab calloway March 28, 2013 at 10:20 PM
truthseeker is a left -wing panty wearing user of leg warmers.lets see if that gets by.
Johnny B. Good April 16, 2013 at 05:43 PM
In 2011 more people were killed by an attackers hands or feet than from rifle (this everything from grampa's pump action rifle to an M16) and shotgun shots. This means that more people were BEATEN to death with an attackers BARE hands than were shot with long guns. Yet because they are black & scary, the reactionary liberals want to ban them. The problem isn't the weapon that people choose to attack, it's with the mental state of those who choose to attack. So until then, I'm going to need my guns to defend myself and my family against anyone who tries to harm us. Otherwise we need to start banning knives, baseball bats, golf clubs and anything else that could possibly be used to kill.
R. Ludlowe April 16, 2013 at 07:04 PM
Johnny wants to ban hands and feet! (GOP is testing this war-cry for 2016)

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