Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Guns and Public Safety

September 23, 2008

A hearing is to be held today on House bill 89, an extraordinary piece of proposed legislation that will have the effect of allowing the carrying of concealed weapons in many public places, the more worrying of which include bars, houses of worship and college campuses, athletic events and areas of courthouses not directly involved with court hearings or a jail. It also removes any prohibition against or sanction for consuming alcoholic beverages while carrying a loaded and concealed firearm.

The leaders of our public policy network and I attended a meeting of concerned clergy about this issue and both would be wiling to answer any questions or concerns you may have. Jan Woolford can be reached at jbwoolforduk@aol.com and Margaret Daniel at mpdaniel@mindspring.com and I am grateful to them for staying on and with this issue.

I can only assume that there is some philosophical agenda behind this proposed madness. I observe but do not understand at a visceral level the attachment so many have to guns at a level that seems to me to reach that of idolatry. This proposed change in state law seems to me to be more about some odd version of ‘rights’ over reason and presume that serious concern about this will transcend party lines.

I grew up in a house that had guns for sporting purposes and I remember the village policeman coming by from time to time to ensure that the guns and ammunition were kept safely and under lock and key. This procedure allowed my father to keep his license to own the things. I enjoyed shooting at targets with a rifle on a shooting range and found (after the fact) that Joanna enjoyed it too this summer at the Athens Y Camp for girls. In my former parish I knew of a t least one member of the vestry who was a serious collector of guns. That became apparent as we discussed joining a coalition of Northern Virginia Episcopal Churches who were attempting to address some really flabby laws in Virginia that allowed significant trafficking of guns through the state to murder and crime capitals in the Northeast. I don’t consider myself a fundamentalist on some questions about owning or using guns but the emotional heat that gets generated around constitutional questions gives me the willies. Lots of worked up people frothing at the mouth are usually being manipulated by some very calm back room operators with an agenda. (We see it in the church all the time, --more so in the blogosphere).

I hope you will join me in keeping an eye on today’s version of gun insanity and doing what you can to prevent it.

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