Sarah Palin could argue, for some Americans, guns mean control; Until they don’t

Sarah Palin could argue, for some Americans

DENVER, Colorado _ It was family day at the gun show for Heather Alexander.
Alexander, a full-time mother and part-time hotel clerk, is from Aurora, the town near Denver where a gunman opened fire at a midnight screening of the latest Batman movie last summer.

At least once a month in Denver, hundreds of people like Alexander browse gun dealers’ tables.

On Friday, May 3, 2013, more than 1,000 miles from Denver, Sarah Palin took the stage in a t-shirt that read “Women Hunt” in pink lettering. She was prepared to give a speech at the NRA convention in Houston, Texas. Former Governor Palin spoke for approximately 12 minutes about her strong defense of the Second Amendment amongst outer principles she holds dear as she rallied the crowd to support the NRA. Though she had her own agenda, I couldn’t help but to imagine, Palin could have argued that for some Americans, guns mean control; until they don’t.

At a December vigil in Connecticut, just after a gunman killed 20 children and six staff members at a elementary school in that state, President Barack Obama asked: “Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?”

In his Feb. 12 State of the Union address, Obama called on lawmakers to at least vote on proposals making it tougher to buy guns and banning military-style weapons. Gun control legislation was later defeated in the Senate, even though polls showed Americans were moved by the Connecticut shooting to become more supportive of gun control. Such and addition to Palin’s argument would have certainly added balance to her opinion.

It’s interesting that after November’s elections put Democrats like Obama in control of the Colorado legislature, gun control measures were passed in the state, including one requiring more background checks to ensure criminals and others barred from owning guns can’t buy them. Sales via the Internet, by mail or from unlicensed dealers now also require checks.

Before the new law was signed in March, only purchases from a federally licensed dealer or exhibitor at a gun show required checks – a gun show loophole was closed after a 1999 shooting near Denver in which two students at Columbine High School shot and killed 12 fellow students and a teacher before killing themselves. These are the facts.

Another Colorado proposal that became law in the state in March limits ammunition magazines to 15 rounds.

Still, the day after the Newtown shootings, authorities in Colorado say they received a record number of requests for background checks that would-be gun owners need. For a glimpse at the opposition gun control advocates face, go shopping.

Everything from old Winchesters that evoked the Wild West and modern rifles marksmen use in competition was for sale at the show Alexander attended. An AR15, the semi-automatic weapon police say the Aurora shooter used, was selling for less than $600.

Alexander was with her husband and 1-year-old daughter. She and her husband, she said, buy guns often at such shows. They bought a gun safe after their daughter was born because, Alexander said, she’s read too many stories about children getting hurt or killed with their parents’ guns. She and her husband have at least 10 guns, she said, “for safety, mostly.”
“We have a family, so that’s important to us. And it’s a freedom, so, why not take advantage of it?”

On the surface, the mood at the show was like a Saturday morning anywhere in middle America. The show was in a hangar-like building that hosts antique fairs and comic book conventions as often as gun shows. U.S. flags were a major decorative motif, in two basic sizes, large and larger. Fathers in shorts and flip-flops pushed strollers.
A father, pointing to a light machine gun in a display case, could be overheard telling his teen-age son, “It’s fun to shoot. You can’t kill anything with it, but it’s fun to shoot.”

There were hints of a fearfulness that may explain why someone like Alexander believes she needs a gun to defend herself, even though, she said, she’s never been threatened or attacked.

A book stall offered guides predicting that when the government fails and social order breaks down, only those who can fend for and defend themselves will survive. A bumper sticker at one stall declared: “Speak English. Or go back to the sorry-ass country you came from.”

It’s the prickly paranoia of a world power that worries it is slipping. Demagogues flourish in such an environment. More mainstream politicians tread carefully.

BW Garrett, a Denver engineer who bought his 15-year-old son to the gun show, said he fears gun control laws are slowly closing in. He says that current laws aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally unstable are enough, though he conceded enforcement can fall short.

Garrett says he hunts, and grew up shooting in competitions. He owns more guns than he can count, but unlike Alexander, his guns are not for protection.

“If I lived in a neighborhood and felt I need it for protection, I’m gonna move,” he said.

The early American lawmakers who drafted the Second Amendment, which became part of the Constitution along with the rest of the Bill of Rights in 1791, were wary of another government trying to control its citizens by depriving them of weapons, as the British had done to upstart colonists. Interestingly, this ground was somewhat covered in Palin’s speech.

The Second Amendment, in its entirety: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Some Americans today argue the right applies only to members of trained militia prepared to face a despotic ruler. But absolutists say no lawmakers anywhere in America should limit the right to bear arms.

Colorado was once a frontier state, and people there are still known for looking askance on government and its rules. But in the wake of the Aurora shootings, it isn’t unusual to hear even Coloradoans who support the right to bear arms questioning whether anyone really needs a semi-automatic weapon.

In 2008, America’s highest court, the nine-member Supreme Court, struck down a ban on handguns in the nation’s capital. Questioned, in light of Aurora, about the majority opinion he wrote in 2008, Justice Antonin Scalia told Fox News that some limitations on gun ownership are “undoubtedly” constitutional. But he would not speculate on what rules would pass his test.

In his 2008 opinion, Scalia said Americans consider the handgun “the quintessential self-defense weapon.
It can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other dials the police… vividly expressing the sense of control some Americans want to buy along with a gun.

The Alexander family was looking to buy another gun at the Denver show. Some on display catered to women, including a .357 Magnum revolver with a pink grip scaled down to better fit in a woman’s hand. Alexander said she practices regularly, at a shooting range or on property friends own in the country. She added, she’s comfortable with everything from a revolver to a rifle. When she works late at the hotel, she sometimes carries a gun.
“But I usually just carry my Taser.”

Perhaps, the best argument a politician can make is to simply lay the facts on the table and let the public decide. But don’t get me wrong, this is not a critique of Sarah Palin, I just believe the facts from both vantage points tend to make the better argument.

Sources / Supporting Links / Works Cited (If none, please type “none”): Interviewed shoppers at gun show, reviewed Supreme Court decision, White House statements, media reports
Brief description of how and where you uncovered your news story (eg. conducting interviews, investigation, eyewitness etc) : I arrived in Colorado just after the Aurora movie theater shootings, and soon after that was curious enough to visit a gun show. I was fascinated by what I saw and heard there.

Written By: Donna Bryson

21 Responses to "Sarah Palin could argue, for some Americans, guns mean control; Until they don’t"

  1. Sole Supreme Sonrise   May 9, 2013 at 10:34 am

    As for woman woman is the one.

    Though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death woman is the one who does not desert you.

    The only wondrous one who does not desert you though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death is woman.

    As you walk through the valley of the shadow of death all others may desert you.

    All others but woman may desert you as you walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

    So be the child of the ages of forever of woman.

    So be the crone of eternity.

    So be woman.

    • Sole Supreme Sonrise   May 9, 2013 at 4:41 pm

      As for me I love woman.

  2. Sole Supreme Sonrise   May 4, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Guns Mean GUILT!

    Something critically guilty doesn’t want guns except in it’s OWN hands!

    Look around you. Most women walking around right now have had one part or another of their genitals ripped out of them by progressive government orders!

    As a result it is now actually impossible for man to intimately touch woman.

    Guns out of citizen hands is the only hope for the survival of these official fraternizing freaks.

  3. keybd29   May 4, 2013 at 11:40 am

    When the loaded words “semi-automatic weapon” are penned two red flags go up for me. One, the author does not REALLY know what “semi-automatic” means and likely thinks machine gun. Two, the word choice “weapon” eschewing the more neutral “gun” tips me that the author regards shooters as inevitably out to get someone. Lazy.

  4. montanalibertarian   May 4, 2013 at 11:23 am

    “Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?”

    I’ll answer that question. You are NOT powerless in the face of such carnage IF you go armed yourself AND you allow school staff to go armed. Otherwise, the choices faced by those of any age stranded in a gun-free zone with deranged person are to run like a rabbit or die like a sheep. Those narrow and unsatisfactory choices are the result of a reprehensible refusal to face facts:

    1. There are, always been and always will be evil people in the world.
    2. Refusing to accept responsibility for your own safety and safety of your children is a decision that may have ghastly consequences.
    3. The government cannot and will not protect you and yours: that is up to you, as it has been up to individuals in every time and every place.

    • tflorida   May 4, 2013 at 11:45 am

      “3. The government cannot and will not protect you and yours: that is up to you, as it has been up to individuals in every time and every place.”
      So the U.S. government has not protected U.S. citizens in time of war? A local police department, county police department, or a state police force has never protected any of the citizens it represents?
      Lots of spouting off going on in the comments by “montanalibertarian” but very few facts to back up those claims.

      • Mason Jefferson   May 4, 2013 at 2:18 pm

        In terms of waging war, you confuse personal protection with national defense, an entirely different matter.

        In terms of domestic police action, the police are there to react to crime, not to protect you from it. That is an actual finding of the U.S. Supreme Court. See TOWN OF CASTLE ROCK, COLORADO v. GONZALES, decided 7 to 2 in 2005. Police may occasionally come upon a crime in progress and serve to protect the victim and, when they arrest, say a violent rapist, they presumably protect some potential victims. But that protection is only incidental to their primary function.

        Sorry, but relying on the police to protect you is misguided. It has often been noted that, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

  5. Jaby   May 4, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Not ONE. VALID. REASON. Another crap article from a lefty….

    • tflorida   May 4, 2013 at 11:33 am

      First, typing in all capital letters doesn’t make your comments more rational than anyone else’s comments. Second, you somehow seem to forget that “lefty” people also own guns. If you don’t think so then you haven’t talked to many gun owners.

  6. David   May 4, 2013 at 11:15 am

    You folks need to spell-check your stories. I found three typos.

    • tflorida   May 4, 2013 at 11:39 am

      And you need to reconsider using a hyphen when typing “spell check”.

  7. Bob   May 4, 2013 at 11:15 am

    The UN report on violence shows that more people are killed in the U.S. by knives and by hammers than by guns. Do we start to ban them or require background checks before they can be bought? And what about texting and cell phone use while driving. Accidents from their use are overtaking deaths from drunk driving. People need to WAKE UP!! If someone wants to do harm to others, they don’t need a gun. Witness the Boston marathon. While these events are horrifying, they are, in truth, very rare in a country with 330 million people. Unfortunately, they will happen again. There is no way to prevent a person from doing others harm if they really want to do so.

    • tflorida   May 4, 2013 at 11:38 am

      Background checks for hammers and knives? Your making an argument that isn’t a suitable comparison. If you want to use non rational arguments, then here’s another one you can use: Food poisoning kills people, so lets run background checks on bacteria.
      Regarding your complaint about background checks, when you buy car insurance a background check is done on you to determine your insurance coverage. Funny, you don’t complain when that type of background check is done, but you’re outraged about background checks regarding gun ownership.

      • Mason Jefferson   May 4, 2013 at 5:17 pm

        Buying car insurance is a transaction between private parties.

        Exercising a civil right is not. Rights are not granted by the government – they are inalienable and intrinsic to individuals: governments really have no authority to tamper with them. Governments that do so make themselves illegitimate by so doing.

  8. Bryan   May 4, 2013 at 10:59 am

    There needs to be no debate…people need to actually read the constitution and understand that the 2nd ammendment is more for protecting us from a tyrannical government than some idiot thief.

  9. Rocco Capone   May 4, 2013 at 10:53 am

    You claim to state the “facts” but you don’t. True, a private sale between two people in the same state does not require a background check or transfer through a licensed dealer. However; very few sales are done that way and you probably know that but prefer to obfuscate the “facts.” You cannot transfer a weapon across state lines without going through a licensed dealer and that goes for Internet sales and through the mail. Your agenda is more important to you than the “facts.”

  10. M James   May 4, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Okay… the debate on gun control is an extremely muddy water. I am not pretending to wade into the debate nor to even argue against any of the major points (point of fact… I’m still not sure I see the big point you’re after). But there is one tiny detail I do want to comment on:

    “But in the wake of the Aurora shootings, it isn’t unusual to hear even Coloradoans who support the right to bear arms questioning whether anyone really needs a **semi-automatic weapon.**”
    Most people don’t know what semi-automatic means and envision a gun where you hold down the trigger and it sprays bullets (like in movies). That is not a semi-automatic gun, and so those public opinion polls are not precisely the best judge of the public’s opinion because all too often it is not an informed opinion.

  11. You No   May 4, 2013 at 10:42 am

    If the question is; Am I prepared to accept that some people will abuse their freedoms?

    Yes, I am prepared. The reality of life is that you will encounter danger. The reality of freedom is that you aren’t free if you are being forced, coerced, or otherwise restricted from acting in your own best interest.

    If the question is, Am I so afraid of people abusing their freedoms that I would willingly limit my own and theirs? No. I refuse to prejudge another human.

    I would rather you and I be able to respond with full mind and all available options, to any possible danger, than be wondering if my response fits another person’s fears.

    When you can guarantee that no human will ever abuse another human, in any way shape or form, I will happily hand over any tools of violence I own.

    Until then, humans are tool users, and anyone willing to make a tool for violence, will. Your fists are the most basic example.

    Thanks for asking.

    • Freon Sandoz   May 4, 2013 at 11:32 am

      You oppose limiting the “freedoms” of others and refuse to “prejudge” them? What if they are convicted criminals or mentally ill? Shouldn’t we strengthen laws to keep guns out of the hands of such people? The NRA, dominated by the interests of the gun industry, does everything possible to prevent such laws. This is because the gun industry knows that gun sales in America go up when violence increases and go down when violence decreases. They certainly don’t want laws that decrease violence.

      • Bryan   May 4, 2013 at 4:39 pm

        Saying that the NRA is preventing laws to keep guns out of felons hands is silly…fellons dont have the right to own guns. no amount of regulation si going to stop criminals from getting thier hands on a gun if they want it bad enough. The laws are there and its not stopping them.
        I would also bet that more people die each year from drunk drivers, smoking or the drug trade than from gun shots.


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