By Alan Sorensen
I had hoped my last week's column would have explained what I really think of radical, fetishist gun owners. Guess not.
I had two people call or stop by and thank me for defending guns. As far as that goes, I guess I did defend guns.
What I did not and never can defend is the use of the deadly force of a gun against another person. And I was especially offended by the Gun Owners of America e-mailing us just hours after one 6-year-old child shot another to death with their claims that the boy, not the gun, killed the little girl.
In their zealousness, these gun maniacs claimed that deadly force by a child in the defense of another is good. In each of the incidents cited, a child shot and killed another person who may or may not have been harming another. Since none of the would-be victims actually died, we'll never know if they were actually in mortal danger.
I say there can never be a justification for one person to shoot another to death. And I challenge anyone who claims to use guns for self-defense to show me how a gun can stop a bullet.
I was in Helena a couple of weeks ago to judge some out-of-state publications. The girl next to me was constantly showing her pals behind us articles that tickled her. (I don't know how many publications she actually had time to judge. For myself, my eyes tend to close when my mouth comes open.)
Anyway, she was aghast at one article in which a police officer shot a man who was carrying a knife. She just couldn't understand why a man with a gun would shoot a man with a knife. I asked her if she had ever had a knife or a gun pulled on her. She said no. Then I asked how close the man with the knife was to the police officer and she said about 10 feet. I asked if the article said whether the knife wielder was lunging at the officer or not. She said he was running at the officer with the knife.
Well, I'm here to tell you that I've had guns pulled on me and have had to dodge one wild-eyed man lunging at me with a knife and another swinging with malice at me with a 24-inch maul. The knife and maul wielders were much more frightening than the gunman because I had to rely upon what small talents I had to evade them. Their demeanor and the energy of the moment made their assaults very vibrant, exhilarating and frightening events.
The time I had a gun shoved into my face at a downtown Havre bar I simply put my hands to my side and told my assailant to fire. There was a fatalism that went with having a gun in my face. I couldn't see the bullet in the barrel that would fell me and there really was nothing I could do to prevent it from entering me where it would. Had I tried to pull a gun to protect myself, it would have done little to stop the bullet that surely would have killed me instantly.
Thank God that man put the gun down and let me get back to work.
What I really hope gun owners would do is copy what we in the beer industry did 20 years ago when MADD and SADD began attacking us for putting drunk drivers on the road. Instead of denying their responsibility, brewers, distributors, taverns and stores took action. They trained their employees to intervene when a customer had too much to drink. They took steps to keep drunks off the road. And they joined the very organizations that wanted to shut them down.
Believe it or not, the alcohol vendors were accepted enthusiastically into those groups because they were being honest when they said they didn't want to lose their best customers and that they didn't want their best customers to become criminals.
You see, until a drunk is issued more than one DUI, he really isn't a criminal. The same can be said, I think, for most people who go on gun-toting killing sprees the first time, not the second or third.
I think it would behoove gun owners' groups to follow suit. Their present course is too reminiscent of the tobacco lobby's denials of culpability. We all know how well the tobacco people are doing.
It's time for gun people to take a sane stand and work on compromises that keep guns available to qualified and trained citizens.
I do have one example of what good the background checks can do.
A woman arrived in Havre a few years back. It didn't take long for those of us who came in contact with her to realize that she was emotionally and mentally disturbed and had a morbid hatred of men.
This woman could have gone to almost any gun dealer and purchased a shotgun or hunting rifle. What she did, though, was try to buy a pistol-grip shotgun, a weapon that requires a background check. I want to thank Sheriff Solomon on behalf of all of the men and most of the women along the Hi-Line for denying her her request for permission to buy that gun.
What I'd really wanted to write about this week is my new roommate. Uncle Russell moved in last Friday and guess what? He's neat. I don't mean he's cool, though I'm not saying he isn't. No. He's neat. He likes clean. That should take up a couple of columns.