Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Right To Bear Arms

There is always a lot of talk about the "Right to Bear Arms" as a guarantee in the Constitution and that any discussion of regulation or restriction of that right as being unconstitutional. 

Now don't get me wrong, the document does contain that guarantee. Of course this might have something to do with having been written at a time when most of the country was full of wild animals and hostile humans (actually not much different than now). I for one, have no objection to someone who wants to own a gun for the purposes of hunting or to defend their home and family. Unfortunately though, we don't get to have discussions on this or anything else where gun laws are concerned without being accused of being unAmerican. Instead, we have extremists and wackos defining the argument, and it is to this that I most object. (OK, maybe its the extremist and the wackos themselves that I object to and not their arguments, but that's a conversation for another day.)  

Hunting is an interesting hobby, and though I am personally unprepared to get that close to, let alone kill myself, anything that I intend to eventually eat. I have no objections moral or otherwise to the practice, just no interest in participating. I occasionally ask myself why someone who hunts would then decide to have the creature dispatched in such a manner stuffed and mounted so that their former meal could look at them, but not too often as the resulting confusion makes me dizzy. I do ask myself, and those around me however, what need the hunting public might have for a fully automatic weapon (or one that can be converted into one). If someone can explain to me the need to empty a magazine or two of ammo from a deer or duck blind, I will be skeptical, but willing to listen. I have to think that when the phrase "rate of fire" becomes part of the discussion in such a pursuit however, that the word "sport" should be removed. If this begins to sound reasonable and there is some agreement on this, can we begin to think about taking these kinds of weapons off of the table and off the market, and relegate their use to the military? As for the defense of one's home let's face it, the world is an increasingly scary and dangerous place. 

One could easily make the case for the concept that anyone who feels that they need a weapon to defend home and castle should have the right to. Now personally I am not ready to go down this path either, but I won't stand in anyone else's way. Again there is no moral or ethical objection to the practice, it's only that I am not the brightest bulb on the tree, and in a panic situation am as likely to injure myself as any person breaking in. I should also note that I have angered a woman in my life from time to time and would not like to tempt them with the opportunity to end me as the problem that I have become for them. 

Again, I would like to think that some common sense would put limits on what kind of guns might be permitted for such use (and that rate of fire would figure into this discussion as well), but I don't expect that to ever happen. Not being an expert, I would think that when in doubt, a shotgun could always be a considered a valid solution.  

As for concealed carry permits, you people just scare me. I can't even stand in a line for any length of time without getting mad enough to want to pummel someone. Rush hour traffic, cell phones in restaurants and theaters, and the manners of children in public places all make me a little crazy and I am usually grateful afterward that I didn't have a gun in my possession. I have a little trouble understanding the threat that someone might feel that they are under (with rare exceptions of course), that carrying a weapon would appear to be the only answer to their continued survival. 

I won't attempt to object to such permits however (or the people who absolutely feel the need to have them), as you might be carrying now. I can however recommend a couple of very good doctors who treat paranoia. I will also ask that you wear special clothing, or at least a sign, that tells me when you are packing so that I can keep my distance and stay out of the line of fire.  

There is a whole other issue of the ammunition for these weapons, but I have to admit that I don't know enough about such things to be able to speak with any authority (I'm a wimp, I know). I will say however that I don't know why any non-military personnel would need or be able to purchase ammunition that could (or has been) labeled "cop killer" and leave it at that.

Now I am sure by now that many gun advocates are already feeling like their heads will explode and that they would like to get me up close and personal with their particular weapon of choice for suggesting that limits on their constitutionally given rights are possible (which only makes my point by the way), but don't responsibilities come with rights? We have the right to free speech, but not the right to shout "fire" in a crowded theater. We have the right to assemble, but still need to obtain a parade permit for some types of gatherings. We have a right to worship as we choose, but not to make that worship into law (see Islamic Terrorist).  

We don't have a right to guns that fire faster than a politician talks, bullets that pierce body armor, or clips that are larger than the guns they go in to. We do have the right to "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" however, and current gun legislation doesn't seem to contribute to any of those things. As to rights, in the end and at the very least, don't we have the right to talk about it?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Smoking Police Are Closing In On Me

I had previously posted this onto another blog site (on myspace), but thought that its topic was a fitting one for the first posting on this blog...

As most of you can tell from the photograph of me, I am a cigar smoker. (For those who can't, I recommend an immediate eye exam or committal to an institution that allows regular finger painting.) It is a habit that I acquired some years ago, and along with my appreciation of a good wine and the occasional distilled spirit, is a form of true enjoyment and stress relief for me. There is nothing more relaxing in the evening than enjoying an adult beverage and a fine cigar. Good company during such times is always welcome (especially if it is an attractive woman), but not required to the occasion. 

It appears however, that I will have to be careful in the future of my guilty pleasures, since the smoking laws have changed in Ohio. Now I live in an apartment, not a single family home (for a number of reasons that we do not need to go into at this juncture), and I do everything that I can to respect the privacy and lifestyles of my neighbors. I try not to play the TV or music too loud or too late, and try not to stink up the building with my efforts at food preparation. 

I would like to think however, that if I wanted to indulge myself in one of the perfectly legal fine cigars (no Cubans, thank you) that I keep, that it would not be too much to ask. As the State of Ohio sees it however, I would be wrong. It appears that my apartment, though my home, is also a public building. It therefore falls under the new smoking ban that Ohio has passed for public buildings. 

I can enjoy smoking on my patio (such enjoyment now being predicated by the weather), but I am not allowed to pursue this guilty pleasure while inside my own home. Don't get me wrong, I can understand the desire of the non-smoking public to decide that it can do without my bad habits while sitting in a restaurant after a fine dinner. I have even come to understand that I need to grant equal latitude to my fellow man when enjoying a drink in a pub (though I have to say that this one hurt). I have always tried to be respectful of the health concerns and feelings of others, and have therefore reconciled myself to the fact that my personal form of enjoyment cannot be participated in while in such shared spaces. 

I have to say that I am grieved however, to see this particular form of political correctness extend itself beyond the privacy of my front door. I doubt that I pose a serious health risk from second hand smoke to anyone but myself while sealed in my apartment, but this doesn't seem to make a dent in the mind of a state who seems to want to influence or control my behavior. 

The passing of such laws in this country should begin to make all of us very afraid. We laugh now, when we hear the stories of states who in the past, passed laws forbidding shopping on certain days, legalized bigotry in schooling or public facility use, or even forbid certain types of sexual practices. We decide that we are now a more enlightened society and tell ourselves that such things couldn't happen today. 

Are we only then concerned when this attack on personal freedom occurs in public or in the bedroom, and not in the living room or the kitchen. (Now, now, I know what your thinking and there's no need to discuss sex and location in this posting.) This encroachment on personal freedom is not the first time that our government has entered our homes, seeking to limit our freedom to do something that is not illegal, and unfortunately it won't be the last. 

So for those of you who voted for the smoking ban, and who are now reading this and feeling superior because one of the bad guys has been put in his place, beware. I tell you now that your particular foible or peculiarity is probably already on someone else's radar screen and they are licking their chops over the prospect of minding your business.