Coming to a town near you: mandatory gun ownership
Teddy Roosevelt put it one way: “In the West,” our former president said, “a six-shooter and a smile are more persuasive than a smile alone.”
The same sentiment, expressed differently, is found in scripture.
“He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.” — Luke 22:36.
I don’t know if folks down in Nucla who support their new municipal ordinance, requiring heads of households to own a gun, expect homeowners to sell off clothing if they don’t have the required weapon and ammo in their residence.
I suspect many are smiling — some because the Family Protection Order adopted earlier this month puts an exclamation point on the gun controversy in Colorado, a kind of “in your face” response to newly-enacted state gun legislation.
Others may be amused that leaders in a small, conservative town in the west end of Montrose County find it necessary to extend the long arm of government into homes where it’s likely gun ownership isn’t much of an issue.
Requiring a gun in every home is likely an unenforceable ordinance unless authorities intend to do what gun-rights advocates fear the most — have government officials go door-to-door to track gun ownership.
It could be Nucla won’t be alone for long in requiring gun ownership. Up in Craig, another bastion of Western Slope conservatism, a similar effort is underway.
Craig resident Craig Rummel and a committee of townspeople are drafting a similar ordinance for presentation to the City Council either today or at the first meeting in June. Rummel first proposed the law last month. Council members did not dismiss it out of hand, but did express concern about adopting an unenforceable law.
Both ordinances are inspired by a decades-old law in Nelson, Ga. It, like the ordinance in Nucla, provides loopholes for those who don’t want to own a gun for various reasons. Those same exceptions would presumably apply in Craig.
The fact the ordinance in Georgia isn’t being enforced and includes no penalties doesn’t stop people from claiming it is responsible for a 20-year decline in crime statistics there. Whether that’s just a coincidence, whether other factors may account for statistical declines, or there’s a direct correlation probably lies in the eye of the beholder.
As another example of the fervor in this debate, I’m remembering comments I saw on-line while applying for elk and deer licenses in early April. Gun advocates were encouraging out-of-state hunters to boycott Colorado because of legislative actions regarding gun control.
Apparently the state’s reputation for good deer and elk hunting outweighs philosophical objections regarding gun politics. I’m told draw applications were up slightly this year. We’ll know more about the success of any boycott this fall, after over-the-counter licenses sales are tallied.
Then there’s the worrisome specter of Colorado sheriffs filing a lawsuit against newly-enacted state gun laws. It’s one thing to set priorities on enforcement activity based on budget considerations and other factors, quite another to attempt to overturn duly-enacted laws you supposedly took an oath to carry out. Whatever your politics, it’s a slippery slope when you let anyone with a badge usurp the authority of the Legislature and attempt to decide which laws should be obeyed.
That’s especially true given the front-page article in last Sunday’s Daily Sentinel, which noted that one census tract in Grand Junction had the second highest gun-death total in the state from 2001-2011, and that the top four neighborhoods for gun suicides were in Grand Junction, Montrose or Mesa County.
The statistics compiled by I-News Network also confirmed that most gun casualties aren’t the crime-related deaths firearms advocates worry about protecting themselves from. Over the 12-year period, 87 percent of Mesa County’s 250 gun deaths were suicides assisted by easy gun access. Every one of the 29 census tracts in Mesa County had at least one gun death during that time.
Given that, does it really make sense to mandate gun ownership or to oppose common-sense legislation regarding background checks?