Saturday, June 21, 2014

Sandy, Get My Gun!

No need to be a red-necked Texan to join the fun available by signing on with one of the groups of obnoxious exhibitionists toting weapons around to prove they have a right to terrorize the general public.

Here near our peaceful neighborhood, we have remnants of the infamous "Michigan Militia" and any number of misguided Rambos who think the nation's constitution made them exempt from sensible gun control when it provided a right to bear arms linked to a well-regulated militia. "Well regulated" is about as far from describing members of the Michigan Militia and their clones as a term can get.

Lately, the loonies have made the news big time in these parts. They haven't appeared on our doorstep yet, but they've shown up twice recently in nearby Kalamazoo.

In the first incident, concerned citizens called police because a man who appeared to be intoxicated was walking down the city street near a laundromat shifting a rifle from shoulder to shoulder. When officers approached him with guns drawn, the man yelled profanities at them while "acting irrationally," according to a police lieutenant at the scene.

The police talked the man into surrendering the weapon. He was not charged with a crime and the rifle was returned to him the next day, because the police could not determine precisely that he was "brandishing" the weapon, a term used, but not defined, in the state's open carry law.

The rifle bearer was not an African-American nor a Muslim. Had he been, he'd probably still be gracing a cell in one of our more inhospitable institutions while the legal technicalities were being debated.

Several days ago, the Kalamazoo Public Library presented a special reading program for little children in the library parking lot. A man showed up with a pistol in a holster attached to his belt. Members of the library staff called police as they had been told to do. The gunslinger stated he had
Something our libraries don't need
a right to carry his pistol and was there to protect his three-year-old daughter. The library people did not challenge his right, but an administrator several times asked him to depart.

When the man's wife asked him to leave, he finally agreed to go. He was across the street when the police arrived, and he returned to convince them of his right to open carry. The police didn't need any convincing. They knew the law allowed him to carry. So did Gail Madzier, head of the Michigan Library Association. Madzier made one of the more sensible statements regarding the incident: "But just because something is legal doesn't mean it's the best idea."

Rob Harris, spokesman for Michigan Open Carry, Inc., made one of the least sensible statements. When told the gunman's presence made the children and library staff people uncomfortable, he said, "Unfortunately for them, nothing in the law says they have the right to be comfortable."

The police told library staffers to continue to call them whenever anyone with a firearm showed up. What other advice could they give? No one has yet devised a way to tell a "good guy" civilian carrying a weapon from a "bad guy" civilian carrying one.

We taxpayers, while endorsing the "call the cops" policy to err on the side of safety, wonder a bit if the exhibitionists care at all about the added policing expense they are creating, or even how forcing public safety officers to respond to what often will be false alarms weakens their ability to protect us from serious criminals.

Our son is on the board of trustees of Ransom District Library, which serves patrons in several communities in our area. The trustees were forced to cancel their "no guns in the library" policy when anti-control advocates threatened legal action while pointing out that the ban violated Michigan laws allowing concealed and open carrying of weapons in many places.

The law also establishes gun-free zones, which include day care centers, school buildings (without a concealed carry permit), sports arenas, taverns, casinos, and most buildings operated by religious organizations. Somehow, libraries were left off the list. That concerns library staff and policy makers across Michigan.

There is a movement afoot to pressure legislators into defining public libraries as gun-free places. With the conservative nature of Michigan government, however, it may be a long time before that sort of legislation passes, if ever.

Our son says his sense is that there is no sentiment among the library trustees or staff members to allow firearms in the building, although some express sensible gun rights beliefs. Despite the general feeling that guns and the library are not a good mix, there is no legal way to ban weapon carriers.

But hold on, pardners--the strange law that allows guns in Michigan libraries may be balanced by another strange law that could scare weapons carriers away, just as anti-control people claim they frighten criminals by carrying guns indiscriminately.

Michigan has a "hold your ground" law similar to the Florida statute applied to exonerate an adult who killed a teenager by claiming the kid posed a threat to the shooter. Our law says you do not have to attempt to flee if you or those you are caring for feel seriously threatened by another person or persons. You can confront interlopers and shoot to kill in your defense if you believe it is justified.

Therefore, nothing appears to prevent geezers like me who have working knowledge of how weapons operate from becoming defenders of the library. We could get concealed carry permits and share shifts at Ransom with our pistols close at hand but hidden. If anyone frightened us or any library patron by approaching with a firearm in plain sight, we could feel free to respond with a few bullets placed to do them maximum damage.

It should be easy to recruit geezers with reputations as solid citizens to spend a little time protecting children and other patrons of public libraries. What court would convict them of anything after they merely were standing their ground when they gunned down a younger armed malcontent who had little standing in the community?

Of course, I would never encourage anyone to resort to such violent activity. But, some concerned geezers may also have looked into the pertinent laws and already formed  "library anti-militias." Think about that, open carry exhibitionists. Does the prospect of being greeted by a barrage of bullets make you shake a little in your jackboots? Well, good. Stay out of our libraries, they should be peaceful places.


Tom Sightings said...

Yikes! Don't know whether to laugh or cry. said...

I just got into a discussion with a WI cousin (retired police - AZ) who thinks we should have no restrictions on guns. Gun haters ( he says) invented the words assault weapon. I stopped arguing with him after a while. These people are very extreme and need to be regulated.

I reminded Paul(cousin) that our ancestors were farmers with rifles who as members of militias fought British regulars in the War of Independence. No one could foresee the advent of what passes for 'guns' today.

Several members of my family, including my daughter own pistols for target shooting. My SIL owns a gun he uses to slaughter hogs on his free range farm. Not my cup of tea, but I would defend his right to kill meat animals in what is a comparatively humane manner.

Dick Klade said...

Dianne . . . I have no problems at all about responsible people using appropriate guns for hunting, target shooting, and special situations such as your son-in-law's business. Beyond that, our firearm controls are terribly inadequate and relaxing them rather than strengthening them, which is what is happening in most places, is absolutely ridiculous.

PiedType said...

I've ranted on this subject 'til I'm blue in the face. All the laws are written to allow gun carriers almost unlimited freedom. None are written with an eye to keeping the rest of us free and safe from those guns, free of the anxiety of not knowing whether that gun is being carried by a good guy or a bad guy. I can't imagine anything much more unnerving than walking into a local supermarket or theater or mall and seeing some guy walking around with a gun on his hip or rifle on his shoulder -- and no uniform of any kind. Those gun owners love to talk about how responsible they are, while deliberately, knowingly, and unnecessarily causing anxiety to the rest of us -- and then they blame us for feeling that way. That's not responsible behavior.

The Founding Fathers, wise as they were, were not prescient enough to include in the Bill of Rights the right to be free of guns. They did not codify the non-gun owner's rights as they did the gun owner's rights. And now we're paying for it.

Anonymous said...

As a 'Brit' living in a country which is a "gun free zone" (Well, Almost), I can only say .. Un-bloody-believable !