Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Nazis are coming!

Yesterday at the Minnesota Democratic Convention, I had one of those bizarre conversations with a true gun nut that I can't stop thinking about. As I walked around with my "Minnesotans Against Being Shot" tee shirt, a big hit in the exhibit hall, I asked delegates to vote in favor of two resolutions on the floor. One is to support the gun show background check bill, the other to oppose any "Shoot First" bills in Minnesota. Several delegates standing in line for food got involved in the conversation as I passed out the papers about the resolutions. One of them threw out a ridiculous comment along the line of conspiracy theorists and then continued to buy his food. Another, however, was ready to engage me. He started by telling me he wouldn't support the background check resolution because it would lead to his rights being taken away. You can tell where this is going, can't you? I might as well have been at a tea party rally. But here I was at the state's Democratic convention. I guess we are a big tent after all.

I was up for the challenge however so I pressed this man to tell me how this measure would lead to taking away any of his rights. His response was that his guns would be taken away from him. Where have I heard this before? Oh yes, at tea party rallies. But here was the surprise response from this delegate which separates him from the tea partiers. He told me that the Nazis would take his guns! I thought the tea partiers were convinced that President Obama and his party are Nazis. This was a different take.

Was I really having this conversation? Undaunted, I plowed ahead. When I didn't buy the Nazi idea, this man then suggested that the National Guard would surely show up at his door to get his guns if the background check measure passed in Minnesota. When I didn't buy that one, he moved on to law enforcement. They, according to him, are evil and would surely take his guns. Not being convinced again ( and actually defending law enforcement officers having dealt with many myself in my pursuit of common sense gun laws) he attempted to give me examples of law enforcement gone wrong. Waco and Ruby Ridge were mentioned. Of course, I challenged him on both but he wasn't buying it. He was quite sure the very nice police officer I had just had a conversation with in the exhibit hall was evil and would take his guns if given a chance.

O.K. then. I thought I would try common sense. I asked him if he objected to undergoing a background check when buying a gun from a licensed dealer, assuming he was a law-abiding citizen. His answer- he never buys guns from licensed dealers because the government would use those records to take away his guns! Ah- now we are at the crux of the matter. Clearly I was dealing with a paranoid man who saw danger around every corner. He didn't want regulations on guns but was willing to put up with the same about cars. That was discussed but wasn't relevant to him.

So last was my plea that I was not going to take his guns away but just wanted to keep people from becoming victims of gun violence. I think somewhere in here I caught his attention with the fact that my sister had been shot to death. But that didn't last too long. When I pointed out that 80 people a day die from gunshot injuries in the country, his answer was that that was nothing in a country of 350 million people! Disposable lives. No problem. Obviously he knows no one who has been shot. Naturally, I expressed my surprise that he didn't think that was a serious problem.

As the conversation came to an end when he was next in line for his food, he offered me his hand and admitted that I was passionate and that he admired my advocacy for my cause. Did I win this one? Maybe. He surely didn't win because I was not easily bamboozeled by his nonsense. My bet is that he is used to bullying people with his loud rhetoric and I was not so easily bullied. Perhaps that gained some respect for my views. Who knows? He will not change his views, nor will I.

I thought I was done with him. But I picked up this morning's newspaper, and there he was on the front page of the paper. A reporter had done a story on undecided delegates to the convention. He was one of the featured delegates. I learned that he is a former trucker who is a student at our Community College. He was painted as a "realist" who had supported a candidate who I know to be against the background checks. But knowing that candidate was not going to win, he was throwing his support behind the only woman candidate in the race who I know to be a progressive who supports my position. I wonder what he will think when he finds that out? Time will tell. As I said, the Democratic party is a big tent. But I am surprised that this man found his way into it.

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