I need to make a disclosure: I am in a mixed marriage. I’m a conservative, my husband is a liberal. I am a gun owner. He supports significant personal gun control.
(We celebrated our 25th anniversary on Tuesday. I keep my gun in its locked case in the garage. He keeps a pool cue butt under the bed as a defensive weapon. Compromise, people.)
Here’s the problem in my household, and across the country: Neither side of the gun debate has an actionable plan that will stop mass shootings. Because stopping gun violence is an all-or-nothing proposition; to have no shootings, there must be no guns. Or if there are guns, there must be no criminals. Neither option works in 2019 America.
Background checks, greater licensure and documentation requirements, or proof of proficiency are not bad ideas. But they only will impact gun owners who obey the law. And if the number of fast food places on Central that won’t accept cash after 3 p.m. is any indication, we won’t have a criminal-free society anytime soon.
I had the surprising pleasure of discussing this issue on KKOB a couple weeks ago with Gene Grant of KNME and afternoon drive time host TJ Trout. I say “surprising” because after El Paso, this was the last topic I wanted to touch on a call-in show. Here’s what TJ did that made it work: He hosted a conversation, not a confrontation. He and Gene and I threw around
• ideas (allowing semi-automatics only at licensed shooting ranges?)
• worries (now more than ever personal firearms for home security seem like a good idea in the ABQ Metro)
• and predictions (liability insurers and corporate general counsels will curtail gun sales in most “big-box” stores).
TJ took a few calls, and the conversation on the whole was informed, respectful and non-adversarial.
That’s not happening in Washington, much less the state Legislature. On Capitol Hill, each side has drawn their line in the sand which they will not cross, so nothing happens. In the Roundhouse, we have close to the same situation, although the Democrats can pretty much pass whatever they want after their crushing 2018 wins. And to their credit, they brought in county sheriffs to discuss their proposed gun control bills in 2019.
However, they didn’t listen. When the majority of sheriffs opined that they were bad bills, the Democratic caucus continued to push them through anyway. Two of the bills were “red flag” bills, one which would confiscate weapons from individuals deemed to be “an immediate threat,” and one which would ban weapons sales to individuals convicted of domestic violence. Meanwhile, 26 of our 33 counties counties—including Torrance County—passed “2nd Amendment Sanctuary” measures to prohibit local law enforcement from enforcing red flag laws.
Eventually the red flag bills died in committee. But at the domestic terror summit held in August, the governor indicated that she would try again to pass red flag laws. And the New Mexico Sheriff’s Association sent an email to the governor last Thursday outlining at least eight ways that current laws already address dangerous individuals, and stated that the association would not support red flag gun laws in the 2020 session.
So expect even less listening, and more pontificating and more stalemate in January.
Meanwhile, the GOP is suing to overturn the passage of Senate Bill 8, which requires background checks on many private gun transfers. I have a couple thoughts on that. First, maybe the state party should spend dollars on getting more Republicans elected to prevent stupid bills like this from passing in the first place; second, SB 8 in its final version was watered down and mostly toothless, but does create additional hassle for lawful gun owners.
I am sorry to say, back in the Allen household, it’s not much different. My husband is really upset about last weekend’s Midland shootings and completely frustrated at the lack of progress. I’m not about to tell him he’s being too idealistic while he has access to a pool cue, either. We’re headed to a wedding in Colorado this weekend; maybe we can put our differences aside to start some bar fights over green chile.
Merritt Hamilton Allen is a PR executive and former Navy officer. She and her family live north of I-40 and have all received pool cue combat training.