OPINION COLUMNS

More guns make no one safer

By Bob Buckel | Published Saturday, January 31, 2015
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“You can’t talk to a man with a shotgun in his hand.”
“Smackwater Jack”
Gerry Goffin, 1971

New Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said the other day the “open carry” issue – the right to openly carry a gun in Texas – did not have the votes to be a priority for the 84th Legislature.

When I heard that, I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Bob Buckel

Bob Buckel

Texas needs a lot of things – a better way to fund public education, better security at the border, relief for social service and health care providers, lower college tuition, better roads, more water, transparency in government, higher ethical standards and on and on.

More people walking around with guns isn’t on that list.

Unless, perhaps, there are 17 of them in your office, and you’re not sure how sane they are.

Patrick has now waffled on the issue (something we should get used to) and says open carry may have enough votes to pass after all. I imagine him smiling nervously, sweating a little and groping for the panic button as he said that.

I’m a gun owner. I’m in a family of hunters. I don’t have a problem with guns. I’m fine with concealed handgun licenses, too, although I think they should be tougher to get.

If someone feels they need to carry a gun, and they’ve been screened and gone through the training, I’m OK with that.

I do not, however, want to see it on their hip.

The only folks openly carrying guns should be licensed law enforcement officers. I know they’ve been trained – not just how to shoot, but when to, and when not to.

On an officer, a gun is expected, even reassuring.

On anyone else, it’s not just intimidating, but it could be deadly dangerous – to the gun-toter as well as others.

Over the past few months, we’ve seen a rash of news stories from places like Ferguson, Mo., Cleveland, Ohio, New York City, Florida and elsewhere, where even trained police officers messed up and shot people who didn’t need to be shot.

The Nov. 22 shooting of Tamir Rice, a Cleveland 12-year-old, makes the point perfectly. This kid was just hanging out at a park, wasting time. He had an airsoft gun, and he would periodically whip it out and play like he was pointing it at someone.

He also made snowballs and threw them straight up in the air, climbed, sat and strolled all over the park. He was playing. He was 12 years old.

A nearby resident called 911 and said a guy waving a gun was making people nervous. When the police car rolled up in response, the boy was shot down in less than 2 seconds. He died the next day.

If police officers shoot kids with toy guns, what are they going to do when people are walking around with real guns?

How can we expect them, in the heat of the moment, to distinguish between the good guys and the bad guys, the play guns and the real ones?

We can’t. If open carry passes, expect a lot more shootings. That is, after all, what guns are used for.

I can only speculate on the motives of open carry advocates. Maybe they wish to intimidate, or they think a gun makes them more of a man.

Maybe they got picked on in school, or watched too many westerns or gangster movies, or they have some kind of arrested development or other complex.

Maybe they wanted to be in law enforcement but didn’t have what it took.

I’m not sure what makes a person want to walk around with a gun.

I just know those are exactly the kind of people you and I don’t want walking around with guns.

Bob Buckel is editorial director of the Messenger.

3 Responses to “More guns make no one safer”

  1. Rusty White says:

    Bob,

    There are some things in this I can agree, and then there are some I can not. I grew up in Arizona where it was (and I believe is still) legal “”FOR YEARS””, for any citizen to carry a side arm. The only requirement was at least 4″ of the weapon had to be shown. We did not have the “more shootings” you claim, nor did people walk around in fear of those who carried them? There will always be IDIOTS “but”, unarmed citizens and their families stand a better chance of surviving if someone is armed, concealed or openly, do they not? I agree now a days training is needed, but back in my day we got firearms training at home, school, Boy Scouts and in the military. I have often wonder why we stopped some of this kind of teaching?

    There was a time you would have been correct about feeling comfortable see an officer and his /her with a weapon. Sadly not so much anymore, partly due to the “numerous” questionable citizens being wounded and killed. A long with the “documented” terrorizing, maiming and killing of officers and innocent civilian of all ages, due to “no knock warrants”. Throw in the unwarranted “militarizing” and use of “military tactics” by our public servants upon those they are to be protecting and serving, like I said, not so much anymore! I am still a supporter of our officers, and have put my life on the line in the past and would do so again if needed. BUT I will “NEVER” remain silent nor support bad policies and bad procedures, which have caused much of the loss of trust and respect of those in law enforcement today!

    Why speculate and make unwarranted “assumptions”about others beliefs. Or paint those who don’t believe as you do, as wanting to intimidate or some how feeling less manly, or being bullied, or didn’t have what it took to be in law enforcement? Or much less try and taint them to soot your admitted concerns and perceptions as how all others should believe and live, why not just ask them, I for one would be interesting in hearing their side on this issue?

    There could be some that believe those before us DIED to give us our rights and freedoms. They have witnessed the ever erosion of these rights, by those using small steps to reach their final agendas. All the time using “for our own safety” as a guise to force a minorities beliefs over all others.

    I have and do consider you as a friend, we don’t always agree and I see that as a good thing. “BUT” I would ask that you refrain from trying to assume what others beliefs are, or why they have them, much less attempt to paint them in a such a bad light to support your beliefs. Nor have I ever seen you claim to speak for “you and I”, when did you gain that “special” right??? I have never seen this side of you before, I guess we are all passionate about some things, to the point we all forget our beliefs are “not the only ones”!

    Take care and try to keep objective, impartial and unbiased, we all have bad days!:):):) IMHO

  2. says:

    Thanks for the comment, Rusty. I think you miss the point of the opening quote, however — that “you can’t talk to a man with a shotgun in his hand.” We need to be talking, not waving guns at each other. If someone has a gun, I’m sorry, but I’m not likely to hang around and find out what his beliefs are. Because he sees a need to have in his hand the means to kill me, I want out of his presence as quickly as possible. I am interested in hearing that side of the issue — that’s why I wrote my opinion. I appreciate your goodwill, but I didn’t have a “bad day.” I expressed my opinion, and got yours!

  3. Rusty White says:

    Bob,

    There is a difference between carrying a weapon and waving one in your face, is there not? I have no problem talking to those with or without a weapon, your “assumption” as to they having the “need to have in his hands the means to kill me”? I guess your talking about a situation where a person is not just carrying a weapon, but has pulled it on some one, right?

    In my past I have been on “both ends” of this situation, and trust me when your looking down the barrel of a gun shoved in your face! You would swear the mussel is so big you could stick your head in it! I am glad your interested in hearing the other side of the issue, I hope those in this movement respond to this article as well. I believe we can both agree, neither of us has enough information as to how those in this movement beliefs or what their agendas is, right?

    You have my apology as to having a “bad day”, it was not meant to anger you or disagree. But rather to show how I believed you went against your normally neutral position, of showing “both sides of an issue”? By portraying people as “wanting” to intimidate, or less manly, bullied or lacking what it takes to be in law enforcement. Instead of also saying, some believe in their rights and freedoms, some accept the reality in todays world calling 911 is not an option some times.

    Thanks for responding and sharing your opinion, while accepting mine as well.:) I guess due to the many different roads I have walk in life,I am a little different (ok everybody stop laughing)than most. While I am a firm believer in always being on guard, and protecting myself and my loved ones. I fear no one on this earth armed or unarmed, I prefer to think, “again” I’ll win in any situation, just like in the past.

    Finally, as to “you can’t talk to a man with a shot gun in his hands”, why did he feel the need to have one? Was he a nut job, therefore all who have guns are as well? Or was he defending himself, home or family from being harmed, abused or violated?

    Thanks again, for accepting others opinions, even when you don’t agree with them!:):)

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