20 March 2013

In the gun debate, neatness counts!

The lively debate over gun control on newspaper letters pages has raised the question of whom people trust with power and weapons. Opponents of gun control clearly don't trust the state with a monopoly of force, but it's become clear that some advocates of greater gun control don't trust their opponents. There's some good reason for that mistrust, especially when the opponents reserve a right to rebel against the government and remain alarmingly vague about their standards for provocation. In response to a letter-writer who questioned whether gun fanatics could be trusted, Bob Bernhard of Delanson proposes a novel standard of trustworthiness.

About 10,000 law-abiding gun owners met in Albany at a Feb. 28 rally in support of the Second Amendment. There was not a single arrest. The police were greeted with handshakes and thanks for doing their job. The garbage was picked up, and plans are under way to reseed the grass where the rally was held. That seems like responsible and trustworthy behavior. Compare that to the much smaller Occupy Albany protests of last year in which there were reports of arrests and the garbage left behind.

About the grass: ever since the rally in question the grassy areas of West Capitol Park have been cordoned off by yellow police tape. To be fair, this isn't because of deliberate vandalism, but the sheer numbers of people who attended the rally there stomped the grounds into quagmires of mud. When Bernhard writes of "plans ... to reseed the grass," he may mean that the gun people themselves will pay for it. Good for them if that's so, but while we wait the park is an eyesore when it isn't covered by snow. By comparison, even though Occupy Albany was evicted by force from Lafayette Park, within 24 hours of the action you could believe that the grounds had never been occupied. The city did the cleaning in that case, but it must be admitted that the Occupiers did not leave the, er, footprint that the gun nuts have. That leaves the two groups' attitude toward police for comparison. Bernhard makes much of the handshakes shared by his people and the police as proof of the civility of their protest, though their friendly attitude may belie their avowed suspicion of state power. Maybe he assumes that they and the cops are actually on the same side or share common enemies -- the sort of people who participated in Occupy Albany, perhaps, despite their never claiming (to my knowledge) a right to take up arms against the state. In any event, I'd guess that the signs the gun people carried and the tone of their speeches made a greater (if less positive) impression on most observers even then the impression their boots left on the otherwise untrashed ground. Whether they can be trusted as Bernhard wants us to trust them depends less on their deportment while they still think civil dissent practical than on what they intend to do when they no longer deem it so, and when they think that will be. If someone intends to start an uprising just because his taxes are too high, or he doesn't like being told what to do, I really don't care how neat he is (or thinks he is) at home or in public. It's a fine thing that a newspaper publishes Bernhard's opinion, but let's not mistake it for an argument.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That doesn't change the FACT that a certain amount of "responsible and trustworthy" gun owners lose it every year and blow away their families, their classmates or complete strangers on the street.

Add to that the number of radical elements who, every time the government does something they disagree with, start clamoring about an armed insurrection, rebellion or secession - despite the COST to the rest of us of such an action. Radicals cannot be trusted either. ANYONE who threatens rebellion when we have a free election is nothing more than a would be tyrant and thug and CANNOT BE TRUSTED with armaments. Not by those of us who support democracy.