Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

December 24, 2012

CONFER: Gun owners: Don't be stupid

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — It’s obvious to even the most pedestrian of political observers that 2013 and the years to follow will be fraught with lengthy debates over gun rights, from state houses to Washington D.C. Such is to be expected when a classroom of innocent youth are executed by an unhinged, evil soul flaunting an assault rifle.

That debate really began the day of the shooting, playing itself out in volume at workplace water coolers, family dinner tables, and on broadcast news and talk shows. Unlike past events, everyone had an opinion – there wasn’t a person who didn’t – because of the pure horror of what happened in Newtown and the belief, no matter how remote, that their children could be gunned down at anytime.

As with past debates, this one showed extreme views from both sides. Both sides have their loons. Thing is, this time around, the loons on my side (staunchly pro-Second Amendment) are the loudest. Thanks to the wonders of social media, the most insane theories, arguments, and counterclaims made their way around the world and were spouted and re-spouted ad naseum. Facebook and Twitter – and ultimately real-life conversation – became saddled with ideas that leave me shaking my head and saying to myself, “there go our rights,” because it’s obvious not very many people have the ability to intellectually defend our natural right to self-defense.

Through their foolishness, they are digging a grave for legal gun ownership.

Case in point: The theory posed that had one of the teachers or principal been carrying a gun, the massacre would never have happened. Let’s look at that in a logical fashion, distancing ourselves from the emotion of Newtown. Handgun owners (some 6 million strong) represent a minority of gun owners, who in themselves represent a minority of Americans (44 million out of 312 million). That’s 1.9 percent of the population.

Now, let’s assume that percentage is duplicated amongst the ranks of teachers (which is highly unlikely due to their predominantly-liberal worldviews). That would mean that there are 137,000 teachers with pistol permits. Most pistol permit owners rarely carry their weapon into public and people working in an environment full of children and teens would be less likely to carry. So, let’s suppose that only 2 percent of the licensed teachers actually carry … that would mean that only 2,740 teachers are armed on any given day. There are 133,000 schools in the United States. That means only 2% of all schools would be defended by an armed teacher.

It’s easy to identify holes in such a theory — even for those who count themselves as diehard gun lovers. And, that’s what makes it utterly frustrating when such ideas become not only mainstream, but the leading answer to correcting what ails our mentally and morally corrupt society.

I believe in carrying – and I do carry - a firearm to neutralize dangers posed to me, my family or the public in general. Guns are as equally important to me for putting food on the table. I don’t want anyone, any government, taking my rights away from me, but loudmouthed gun owners who share bad ideas make it way too easy for the other side to win.

So, my challenge to gun owners is this: Don’t be stupid. Don’t get caught up in the emotion of the Newtown tragedy and the emotion and illogic of those who want to limit – even prohibit – our ability to protect ourselves. Take a breather and come back to the debate after the initial smoke has cleared. You – we – need to present to the public at large, as well as elected officials, a reasonable and logical defense for self-defense and offer respectable assessments of what’s wrong with society and how we can fix it.

The right to keep and bear arms is at a crossroads, and it could go down the path we don’t want if we continue to allow our gun-toting brethren to carry themselves in unprofessional and unreasonable ways. Let’s not lose this chance (our last chance?) to save the Second Amendment.

Bob Confer is a Gasport resident and vice president of Confer Plastics Inc. in North Tonawanda. Email him at bobconfer@juno.com.