After having invited the legitimate wrath of the NRA, I thought I'd write about what we have in common, rather than what divides us.
First, though, a clarification. I remain deeply skeptical of people amassing weapons against a coming Obamageddon. I fear they may bring on the very conflict they appear to salivate for. And running around saying the sky is falling is pretty close to criminal behavior because it threatens civil society. Yet, many commenters reminded me they are harmless, help-their-neighbors, salt-of-the-earth people. To them, I apologize for the offense. You're right to be concerned. The people I'm addressing don't send comments.
Now, how are we all Americans instead of pro-NRA, anti-NRA? I'm wrestling with this. I support the Second Amendment but can't support NRA leadership. But, does that make me pro-government? I think we can read previous essays expressing distrust of intrusive government to answer that question. I think a mind-set separates us.
On one hand, I do not think government is coming for anyone's guns. I believe government is not the problem, as Ronald Reagan said. On the other, I am sickened by the entitlement society we've become. So many people expecting so much for so little. Calibrating just how much government we should have is the first thing we have in common.
Perhaps, instead of talking about firearm safety, and we still need to talk about that sometime, we can talk about our shared concern about executive overreach, congressional inaction (with Michele Bachmann as poster child for having not one legislative accomplishment other than trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act), term limits, income inequality ... so many problems.
In good times, gun violence, my top topic, should be a top topic. Perhaps, in the spirit of compromise, I can enlist the salt of the earth to join me in dealing with the other problems.
Now, I know it sounds strange coming from a liberal, but we also need to keep talking about deficit spending. I don't think it's the president's fault, as Congress holds the purse strings, but why is no one holding Congress to account? Why am I not doing so?
Eric Cantor and Speaker Boehner are so busy trying to make the White House look bad they've stopped governing. Democrats in the Senate are no better. Congressional hearings over Eric Holder do little to help struggling Americans with poverty, foreclosure, credit card debt and jobs.
In that regard, Darrell Issa of California may be guilty of misdirected political anger. Elsewhere, I've written that starving government of all money is the cruel answer of the Ayn Rand wing of the Tea Party. I don't negotiate with people who think compromise a dirty word.
But, to NRA membership of all stripes, I appeal to you. To be clear, one more time. We share a love of firearms. We disagree over how best to regulate them. We're all still haunted by the raid at Waco, Texas. In my zeal for putting a muzzle on the crazies with guns, I foolishly suggested that's what crazies deserve. I was wrong.
More violence is not the answer to their violence. In my fear, I confess I want them disarmed, somehow. But, we have so many other things to worry about, crumbling roads, sewer lines, even basics like clean water. So, can we put our weapons down, the NRA its conspiracy talk, and me, my angry pen, and compromise?
As I've done enough talking, I'll let them start. One liberal, me, is listening.
Dr. Christopher Swindell can be reached at chris_swind...@hotmail.com.