Wednesday, June 01, 2005

An Editorial Writer on Gun Owners

Between condo buying and getting married, I haven’t been keeping up with the blogs and news as much as I should. While reading Ravenwood’s Universe I noticed a post about an editorial written by Lionel Van Deerlin appearing in the San Diego Union-Tribune on May 12. I told you I’ve been our of touch for awhile.

I actually felt my blood pressure rise as I read Van Deerlin’s editorial. I even wondered how his editors could have let him publish such a stilted and unfair piece. And, then I realized they believed every argument, every statement Van Deerlin uttered about gun owners and NRA. He was preaching to the choir and the choir was happy to let him sing while they hummed along.

So let us delve more deeply into Van Deerlin’s twisted arguments. In his first paragraph, Van Deerlin proudly waves his membership card in the "Bash George Bush" club. He describes NRA as a Bush beneficiary along with off-shore tax profiteers, contractors in Iraq, and religious right preachers. You gotta hand it to him; he is sneering, snide, and cynical all in his first paragraph.

He goes on to cite the Assault Weapon Ban as just one example of Bush helping an unholy alliance between NRA leaders and gun makers. Then, according to him, NRA lawyers are fanning our all over the country, “…to widen the beachhead for gun laws that won't stop until every American packs a pistol as casually – and yes, as lawfully – as his cell phone.”

I don’t know if NRA lawyers are pushing these laws, but I if not, I sure wish they would. Why shouldn’t law-abiding Americans be able to pack a pistol anywhere a police officer can pack one? If Van Deerlin could hear me now, his jaw would drop and his eyes would bug out. He couldn’t fathom that many of us think that carrying a concealed pistol for self-defense is a self-evident right. No, I imagine that he believes every "right-thinking person" understands how absurd it is to carry a gun—until that person finds out why he or she needs one.

He bashes Florida’s recently enacted “Castle Doctrine,” which states that if a reasonable person feels his or her life is in danger there is no special requirement to retreat from that danger. You can meet it with deadly force. Van Deerlin exaggerates the law into a license to murder anyone and a get-out-of-jail free card, “No court henceforth will have a right to convict, thanks to new rules that Gov. Jeb Bush was happy to sign into law. "I felt threatened" is all a judge or jury need hear to acquit.” Not close at all Mr. Van Deerlin, and one hopes you find treatment for that reading comprehension problem you’re exhibiting here. But, then again, I guess an accurate account of Florida’s new law wouldn’t serve his purposes.

He then describes efforts in other states to ease or revoke laws on carrying concealed weapons in places that serve alcohol (Ravenwood finds an error in his linking Virginia’s Citizen’s Defense League with NRA). Here Van Deerlin reveals just how little he regards Americans who subject themselves to FBI checks, criminal history checks, testing, training and everything else one must do in most states to carry a gun legally. To paraphrase, he believes armed Americans would let a chef know his food was inedible with a bullet. How insulting, how typically elitist and snobbish. How very stereotypical of an editorialist writing about gun owners.

He closes with two paragraphs. In one, he states NRA is on a roll and mentioned NRA’s convention Bill and I attended in April. The final paragraph ends with a snarky statement tying gun owners and gun homicides together. But, he can’t understand that the two don’t go together. Very few murderers have ever joined NRA, got a concealed weapon permit, got a curio and relics license, and took other steps that so many gun owners go through today.

Van Deerlin’s chief problem is shared by so many others in his profession. They are ignorant about gun owners and they don’t want to learn. They’ve received wisdom from on high that gun owners want to shoot at anyone who looks different from them. He needs to pull his head out of his fundament office and meet shooters, find out why so many states have enacted “shall issue” concealed carry.

If he did he would discover that gun owners have historically low accident rates, that concealed carry licensees don’t act like movie cowboys, and that blood hasn’t stained our streets with the end of the Assault Weapons ban. Still, I doubt he'll change his mind. He likes his sarcastic little tissue of lies more than the truth.

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