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Business Casual: Guns And Poses

 

The only time I ever fired a gun was at a police shooting range, doing some re-search for a story I was working on. It was a .38, and it was heavy. That was the surprise. All my gun information had come from TV shows that made firing a gun look simple and effortless. I expected the gun to weigh about the same as a cup of coffee. I was wrong.

As for how I fared in my attempts to hit a target, don’t ask. At least nobody got hurt except me. My wrist was sore for the rest of the day.

So it likely comes as no surprise that I’m not a gun owner, although I know and like people who are – or were, including my own mother.

For as long as I can remember, she had a small tear gas pistol in the top drawer of her bedroom chest. There were no tear gas pellets or whatever it was that might have been required to fire it; she told me the pistol had belonged to my late father. I never knew how he had come to own it.

I rediscovered the gun when I was clearing out her house not long before she died. As a good citizen, I should have taken it to the nearest police station for proper disposal, but instead I just wrapped it in some old towels and threw it in a dumpster. (It’s been nearly 20 years, so I hope – if that was illegal – that the statute of limitations has expired.)

Firearms make me uncomfortable, and I don’t like to be around them – even though I understand that there are people who feel otherwise. I suspect most of us have friends and relatives on the opposite side of the gun ownership issue, and most of us are able to hold to our own views as we tolerate others’.

Our views on guns and gun ownership are formed from our life experiences, our upbringing and our personal comfort level – it’s largely a matter of what makes us feel safe.

Despite my non-gun-owning ways, I have never been tempted to sneak into any gun-owning friends’ homes to steal their hunting rifles or their pearl-handled revolvers and get them out of circulation. I’d be surprised if any of my friends were inclined to stash a shotgun in my hall closet or plant a nice little .22 in my nightstand drawer.

As fascinating as it was to follow the General Assembly’s gun debate, it was a great personal relief that the 2013 session ended without passage of the sweeping legislation that would have greatly expanded the list of places in Georgia where guns could be carried.

The measure passed in the House of Representatives but ultimately failed in the Senate.

The sticking point was guns on public college campuses, and the heroes were the members of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, Chancellor Hank Huckaby and the presidents of all 31 public colleges and universities, who came out forcefully against concealed guns on college campuses.

The head of the Technical College System of Georgia, Ron Jackson, also lent his support to defeating the bill.

Huckaby, a longtime college administrator and former legislator, testified before the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee, acknowledging that his views likely differed from those of many committee members. “In my position,” he said, “I be-lieve strongly that allowing our students to carry weapons on our campuses will not increase their personal safety but instead reduce it.”

He went on to say, “Adding loaded weapons to an already potentially volatile mix of youthful exuberance, stress and, yes, at times alcohol and other factors, could lead to a tragedy of our own making that we could otherwise avoid.”

Huckaby and the educators prevailed. There was grumbling among some of the legislators, and at least one disparaged the Board of Regents as “a fourth branch of government,” implying that the members had overstepped their bounds, which they had not.

They simply used their experience and clout as leaders – in public and behind the scenes – to influence a legislative outcome and protect the schools and students they are responsible for. Sounds like an effective exercise in democracy to me.

I’m sure the campus carry folks will be back next session, and there will be more discussion and more legislation. But not this year.

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