My Turn

Opinion: Taos should be a sanctuary from gun violence

By Daniel A. Brown, Arroyo Seco
Posted 3/7/19

Before the howls of outrage echo across the mountains, let me state that this is not your usual liberal anti-gun rant. Guns don’t bother me and I have always supported hunters and hunting as a …

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My Turn

Opinion: Taos should be a sanctuary from gun violence

Posted

Before the howls of outrage echo across the mountains, let me state that this is not your usual liberal anti-gun rant. Guns don’t bother me and I have always supported hunters and hunting as a valued traditional human occupation. There is nothing more pure than providing your family with fresh meat you caught yourself.

But I admit to being mystified by Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe’s proposal to make Taos County a “Second Amendment sanctuary.” While I respect both his integrity and support of sensible gun control measures, I was worried that if such a resolution passed, every gun-toting lunatic in the United States would put Taos County on their destination list. We have enough gun-related tragedies as it is.

Although guns don’t bother me, America’s obsession about them is cause for worry. As a lifelong teacher, I took the Sandy Hook massacre personally and was sickened by the response. Only in America can you slaughter a classroom full of little kids and the immediate outcry is not “Save our children!” but “Save our guns!” Since the Parkland, Florida, school shooting last February, 1,200 American children have been killed by guns. That for me is a true national emergency, not Donald Trump’s fantasy about an immigrant invasion. School lockdowns and active shooter protocols aren’t “the new normal.” They are obscene reminders of why America is discredited among other Western democracies.

Therefore, I’m not surprised by the expected knee-jerk reaction to the state Legislature’s plan to expand background checks for gun sales. Some fear that it will create a state registry for gun owners. If so, I don’t get what the big deal is. Cars and car owners are registered and nobody is freaking out that the government is going to take away their vehicle. Registered guns would still allow homeowners to keep them for home defense.

But the National Rifle Association’s favorite dog whistle is that “Those liberals are gonna take your guns!” Well, no, those liberals aren’t. I’ve been hearing that nonsense for over 45 years and surprisingly, it’s never happened and never will because no politician is dumb enough to suggest gun confiscation. Thanks to the Republicans, pretty much anyone can buy a gun in America, including psychopathic killers, those who are mentally ill and domestic abusers. With 300,000,000 guns in the country, I wouldn’t break into a sweat about them all disappearing.

I’ve never cared much for the scare tactics of the NRA and preferred it when they limited their efforts to promoting gun safety. They not only incite reactionary hysteria but at times resort to big lie techniques. One of their favorites is that Hitler took power because he disarmed the Germans and succeeded with the Holocaust because he disarmed the Jews. In fact, he did neither. The Germans universally loved Hitler, guns or no, because he promised to make Germany great again and the Jews were never armed to begin with. Gun ownership was never a part of European Jewish culture. The NRA has recently sunk to its lowest nadir in their monthly magazine American Rifleman by posting a photograph of Nancy Pelosi and former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords under the headline “Target Practice.” Giffords was almost shot to death in 2011. Nancy Pelosi was recently targeted by a white supremacist intent on mass murdering Democrats and journalists.

As far as gun owners “defending the Constitution,” that remains to be seen. Right now, we have a president who is relentlessly attacking the free press, hates free speech unless it satiates his pathological ego and corrupt agenda and who is supported by right-wing religious zealots who are determined to undermine the separation of church and state. These First Amendment rights are the cornerstone of American democracy which is why the Founding Fathers led off with them. Sorry, but if you aren’t willing to stand up and defend the First Amendment, then you have no credible grounds for defending the Second.

America should rise above its deadly addiction to guns which claim the lives of 30,000 citizens a year. That’s like wiping out an entire U.S. Army combat division - annually. Instead of giving in to the disease, Taos County would do better by aiding the cure. Not to confiscate guns but to regulate them as you would any dangerously lethal instrument and make our county a sanctuary against gun violence, not for it.

Daniel A. Brown is an artist, writer and former public school teacher living in Arroyo Seco.

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