There is nothing new about violence in legislatures in this country. Once
we get beyond our first year civics courses, we find that violence in the
legislature was quite common in the Nineteenth Century. In the 1850s, a debate
over "Bloody Kansas" erupted into a fistfight among 30 Representatives. By
the time the House chose its Speaker in 1859, Senator James Henry Hammond
of South Carolina reported that, as far as he knew, "every man in both
houses is armed with a revolver -- some with two -- and a Bowie knife."
But that, one might say, was long ago and far away. In this century, Black
Panthers took shotguns and other firearms into the legislative buildings in
Sacramento in protest of the poverty conditions in Oakland. The response of
the legislature was to ban the carrying of arms on the grounds of the
legislature. Oakland's abject poverty continues.
Now that we have women among the legislators, violence on Capitol Hill
takes on a new perspective. We have assumed (not always correctly) that a
fight among men is always a fair fight. But when men offer violence to
women, even in the post-feminist era, our standards of fairness cry, "Foul!"
We have known for years, "When women kill men, they often use a gun. When
men kill women, they usually do it in some more degrading or brutalizing
way -- such as strangulation or knifing. The reason for the difference
seems obvious: although the world is full of potentially lethal objects,
almost all of them are better suited to male than to female use. The gun is
the single exception: all else held constant, it is equally deadly in
anyone's hands. Firearms equalize the means of physical terror between men
and women." James D. Wright, "Second Thoughts about Gun Control" 91 The
Public Interest 23 (1988)
Clearly, then, men who wish to abuse women have a vested interest in gun
control laws, or, more accurately, "victim disarmament laws".
It is facile to think that the tales of woe and violence spread by victim
disarmers are merely deliberate lies designed to frighten the voters into
accepting yet another nostrum. But it is also possible that the victim
disarmers really do fear great violence. That, when they examine the human
soul, they look deep inside it and find only violence, terror and rage. And
it is also possible that when they find that violence, terror and rage,
they find it by examining the souls closest at hand: their own.
Is it possible that every Sarah Brady, every Josh Sugarman, is a maniac, a
Richard Speck, a Charles Manson waiting to break out and run amok?
They certainly don't find all that violence, terror and rage by examining the souls of gun owners. Studies have consistently shown that gun owners are better educated and more productive than the population at large. Studies consistently show that gun owners engage in less violence, and are less likely to approve of violence by others such as police brutality or violence against dissenters or obscure sects.
Perhaps the answer to the question of where victim disarmers find their belief in the inherent violence of human beings is suggested by two recent incidents. Oregon Representative Patti Milne recently introduced Vermont carry legislation in Oregon. [Ed. note: Vermont carry is bearing firearms, concealed or openly, without government permits.] She was verbally abused by anti-gun House Rep. George Eighmey. At the second hearing for the bill Eighmey publicly apologized and credited Gun Owners of America members for "showing him the light."
On February 11th, in a New Mexico House Appropriations Committee meeting,
Representative James G. Taylor, poodle to anti-gun Speaker Raymond Sanchez,
walked up behind Representative Lisa Lutz and slapped her on the back of
the head. What had Lutz done? She is the sponsor of a Vermont carry bill
for New Mexico (HB 296).
This is not an isolated incident. Taylor has barred Rep. Lutz' access to
legislative chambers, telling her to "go in another way". He has harassed
her by other means, as well.
Nor are these unique acts in Mr. Taylor's background. He has copped a plea
to class 3 felony embezzlement. As part of the plea bargain he repaid
$5,648 and did community service. The embezzlement victim? The High School
Booster Club of Rio Grande High School, Rio Grande, NM. Is this a man you
want working with your kids?
Are Taylor and Eighmey the dark side of gun control, the side of gun
control that Bill Clinton would just as soon keep under its rock: the
abusers of women who don't want their victims armed? Or are they two more
reasons why we need vermont carry, and need it now? Or do they stand as
living proof of the obverse of Heinlein's dictum: that the disarmed society
they advocate is a cruel society of rage, abuse and criminality?
(c) 1998 by Charles Curley. Charles Curley is a gun-rights activist and computer guru.