Several of our good neighbors — Surry, Stokes, Davidson and Wilkes among them — have recently declared their counties to be “Second Amendment Sanctuaries,” or some variety thereof, by passing resolutions supporting constitutional gun rights. As of this writing, at least eight such resolutions have passed in the state and others are being considered. Earlier this month, Forsyth County commissioners were asked to pass a similar resolution.
“We have children,” one speaker said at the commissioners’ meeting. “We worry about people coming into our homes.”
Commissioners expressed varying degrees of interest and support, but such a resolution will be considered at next month’s meeting.
To a large degree, these resolutions are harmless. They break no laws, nor do they change any laws. If they provide some degree of comfort to local residents, more power to them. Gun violence is regularly in the news these days, and we could all use a little comforting.
But we dislike that North Carolina citizens feel such steps are necessary, and can’t help but wonder at the influence of groups like the NRA, which regularly engage in fear-mongering rhetoric. We hate to see people victimized by overheated rhetoric.
In 1995, then-President George H.W. Bush angrily resigned his life-long membership in the NRA, citing its outrageous slander of federal agents as “jack-booted thugs.” He wrote, “your broadside against Federal agents deeply offends my own sense of decency and honor; and it offends my concept of service to country.”
But the NRA didn’t take the hint; instead, it has over the years become ever more strident and extreme in its opposition to even the mildest of gun regulations. Others have followed its lead.
Some of this fear is also no doubt inspired by new gun restrictions being legislated in Virginia. Some say that these laws will eventually lead to confiscating guns.
But none of the new restrictions keep guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, not even the “red flag” law, which could have prevented both suicides and murders, had it been in place earlier. No serious politician has proposed gun confiscation, with the exception of former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, who was rewarded for the suggestion by seeing his campaign implode.
Fear-mongering begets fear-mongering. Two weeks ago in a Davidson County commissioners meeting, a social studies teacher claimed that Democrats, after confiscating guns, would next come for Bibles. In a country in which the vast majority — including Democrats — practices Christianity and touts the First Amendment, the claim is absurd.
And it’s telling. Be afraid, conservatives are being told; be very afraid.
To our readers, we urge research outside the bubble. There are legitimate concerns about the proliferation of and easy access to firearms. Winston-Salem Police Chief Catrina Thompson has repeatedly called gun violence the most important issue facing Winston-Salem, Forsyth County and the nation as a whole. A proliferation of guns is more likely to lead to a proliferation of gun-related crimes and accidents than anything. Commonsense gun restrictions — many of which are supported by a majority of Americans — could help.
All citizens have the right to defend themselves. But rather than increase the number of guns, how much better might it be to work toward a society in which that self-defense is not necessary; a society in which complaints can be settled maturely with no need to reach for a weapon; a society in which city streets are so safe that none fear walking them unarmed?
Other nations have come close to those goals. Why can’t ours?
As is often the case, the middle ground seems the most rational.