I should be working tonight, having been out of the office most of yesterday and not getting home until 2:30 AM this morning from a long night at the Legislature. But I need a break from the nuances of permissive driver exclusion legislation (don't ask).
Several years ago, my boss at the time and still good friend to this day, Becky, talked to me on the phone one afternoon as I was leaving an informal mediation from my divorce. I won't bore you with the details of the conversation, but something she said to me really resonated: "Paul, no matter what, take the high road. You won't regret it."
I've taken this advice to heart over the years, and ironically gave it back to her once several years after the fact. It's good guidance for us.
Today's vote in the U.S. Senate reminded me again that we need to take the high road. Immediately after it became apparent that the more restrictive amendments to the gun control bill would not be adopted, my Facebook news feed began blowing up with people celebrating and people lamenting the results. Like most if not all of you, I was relieved to see the more restrictive amendments fail. I remain convinced these provisions not only curtail our constitutional rights, they would also be ineffectual in reducing violent crime.
Yet gloating or spiking the ball this evening doesn't seem appropriate in many ways. As a Libertarian, I don't get any joy out of seeing liberty-limiting legislation fail; I only get a sense of relief that constitutional rights were protected. As an owner of many of the items these amendments sought to outlaw, I'm relieved that I can continue to enjoy using these items. As a human being, I'm reflective on what we can do as a society to reduce the likelihood of active shooter situations.
I would submit to you that tonight is not an evening to celebrate. It is an evening to reflect. Think back to how you felt in January of this year - just three months ago - when it became clear there would be a massive effort to restrict the Second Amendment. Many gun owners were terrified at the prospect of not being able to purchase the weapons of their choice. Ammo prices entered and remain at stratospheric levels. It was very bleak for us, to say the least.
Gloating over today's votes won't win us any friends in the anti-gun crowd. To be sure, many of those folks aren't going to be won over, no matter what. But there's still a large number of people out there - those who don't have strong feelings on this issue either way - that we need to be reaching out to. Rather than spiking the ball and saying negative things about legislators who sponsored restrictive legislation, we need to be inviting those folks on the fence to go to the range with us and encouraging them to pursue whatever interest they have in firearms. This is especially true with women. Female enrollment in gun classes has exploded over the last few years and continues to remain strong. If momma gets to go to the range, it won't be an issue for the kids to do so in the future.
As I said back in January, we need to continue to respect the Constitution and be nice people. And that means taking the high road.
I will admit - I'm not sure what I am supposed to think or say about this. I know that may sound odd. Of course we all can agree it's a terrible event with heart breaking injuries and loss of innocent lives. We all can see the goodness in those who rushed in to help and take the high road as discussed above.
I get all of that.
Yet I find myself pushing my emotions aside and yearning to be more objective about the situation. By that I mean I keep asking myself things like:
- What does this mean going forward? Can we expect more interaction with TSA out in public?
- What should we think of the media and their rush to speculate this was the work of some one from the political right?
- Did 9/11 de-sensitize us to the point we can see what happen on Monday and go about our lives as if it took place in the Middle East?
- How can I do a better job of making sure I have an IFAK (individual first aid kit) near me at all times?