Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Off Topic - The Guns of New Hampshire

When I was 22, I worked in a pottery factory in Dover, New Hampshire for about nine months. It was a dirty job but it did not require me to think too much. As I was in the midst of finishing the final four credits of my Bachelor's degree, this suited me just fine.

One day Joe, one of the other employees, showed up and made a point of exercising his legal right to bear arms. More specifically, he brought a handgun to work. He showed it to us at the picnic table outside the building and proceeded to clean and oil it while the rest of us ate our lunches.

Nobody was really afraid. He was harmless, just a little peculiar. We had all seen guns before, most of us had owned one at one time or another, but we all recognized that bringing one to work was a very bad idea. It was, indeed, this man's right to bear arms -- an undisputed right where I grew up in New Hampshire. But it was also his employer's right to have him escorted away by the police and to terminate his employment immediately. Which is exactly what happened.

A majority of Americans support the right to bear arms, as do I. A majority of Americans are also moderates and, generally, they don't want people showing up at political rallies, or other public functions, with guns strapped to their thighs. If you are going hunting, you carry a gun. If you are going to the firing range, you might carry a handgun -- hopefully in a locked case. But, much in the same way that you don't show up at a wedding in your Speedo, you don't show up at a political rally with a handgun on your hip. It is bad form, bad sportsmanship, and very likely to lead to more restrictions on our Second Amendment right to bear arms.

As most people still remember, in the 1970's the Democratic party, rightly or wrongly, became associated with leftist extremism. This reputation weakened the party considerably in the decades to follow.

If the Republican party wants to remain viable, it must distance itself as quickly as possible from the bizarre fringe that is alienating the majority of moderate Americans with lies, angry rhetoric and, in the case of these recent gun incidents, pure nuttiness. To avoid obsolescence, it must encourage and engage in constructive dialogue and discourage party-spoiling and rumor-mongering. It is important to both Democrats and Republicans that this happen sooner rather than later.

The responsible Left needs the discipline of the responsible Right as much as the Right needs the creativity of the Left. Neither the Right nor the Left functions well in isolation. Politicians and pundits need to lead the way. If they cannot do so, we will soon be a one-party system. As desirable as this might seem to some Democrats, history teaches us that an unbalanced system is always more prone to collapse. Collapse is followed by chaos, and after chaos the other extreme quite often takes charge.

So can we all please start acting normal again?

1 comment:

  1. well said. although the right still sucks big time.


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