Opinion » Bill Cope

Stand Our Ground

Part Two: We are not alone



Remember this address: 11251 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA 22030. I'll tell you why later.

It's lonely, is it not, to be an Idahoan who believes there must be stricter controls on the gun trade? It feels like we--and I say "we," for I know damn good and well there are many of us--are living among a yahoo mob of mouthy hillbillies who seem compelled to periodically stage a public spectacle to show off how studly they look with a gun slung over their shoulders. Even if they're women.

And alas, it's true. We are living among a yahoo mob of mouthy hillbillies, and indeed, they can often be found staging a public spectacle with their guns slung over their shoulders, making a lot of noise to local media chirpies about how nobody better try telling them nuttin' when it comes to which gun they can sling over their shoulders or where they can sling it.

And yes, it's true, we have a Legislature that shovels the hillbilly bull faithfully, being dominated as it is by hillbillies in neckties and shined shoes. And yes, it's true, that much of our local media is like a coon hound, heeling obediently to the hillbillies who stage the events, without so much as a single representative from the opposite pole of the debate. (I've recently suffered through KBOI Channel 2 news coverage of an NRA signing session at Cabela's and two reports on a contrived rally of women who want no laws on which guns they can pose with, and--go figure--Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., Tucson, Ariz., nor any of the 30,000 other, lower-profile gun deaths a year was so much as mentioned.)

So yes, for those Idahoans who think weapons designed only to hunt humans, 100-round magazines, unfettered anonymity and unlimited kill power should have no place in a civilian society, it's a lonesome thing.

And it's unlikely we will have an Idaho leader anytime soon who will name the National Rifle Association for what it is (i.e., a nest of vipers complicit in the murders of hundreds of thousands of Americans) or that we will see an end to our state government being dominated by lickspittles for the gun trade.

(Fun Idaho history fact: former Sen. Larry Craig once sat on the board of directors for the NRA and pushed legislation through Congress that made it impossible to hold gun traffickers liable for any nastiness their products were involved in. Of course, this was before Craig became quite a spectacle, himself, when accused of trying to push an entirely different agenda in the stall of a public toilet.)

This sense of isolation makes it important to look beyond Idaho, to find a perspective in how more civilized Americans are behaving. For instance: 1) Unlike Idaho's sad-ass delegation, which is neither shy nor slow to kiss the rump of Wayne LaPierre, candidates across the country are now proudly running in opposition to the NRA. 2) In contrast to the empty blowhardery of a handful of pissant sheriffs from hither and yon (and Canyon County), real law enforcement professionals representing national associations are speaking forcefully for background checks and even for that which we are told is politically impossible: a ban on military weaponry in civilian hands. 3) States far more significant than ours are already enacting such bans. 4) Nor can we fail to consider that almost every leading professional association from those fields that constitute the foundations of our society--medicine, education, religion, municipal government--have endorsed those bans. 5) Finally, when personalities as diverse as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, Colin Powell and Gen. Stanley McCrystal have called for an assault weapons ban, it can't be denied a cultural shift is in progress.

It's also important to remember that the deeper an attitude is rooted in our culture, the longer it takes to die. But for those who despair they won't live to see the day America has matured enough to solve this problem, think of the transformation that has taken place regarding fair treatment for gays, or the two-generation ascension from Jim Crow to President Barack Obama. Once good, progressive ideas are set in motion, not only are they almost impossible to stop, they can move far quicker than even supporters could have foretold.

And we good Idaho progressives are as much part of that motion as anyone else. Our donations count in out-of-state political races as much as Michael Bloomberg's donations (if not nearly as high), and our patronage speaks as loudly locally as any hillbilly's. (For instance, if some sporting goods emporium decides to sponsor PR events for the NRA, perhaps that's not a place we would want to take our business. And should a local television station give consistently unbalanced coverage to hillbilly gun love-ins, perhaps we might find other sources for our news.)

Now, about that address I asked you to remember. Imagine a huge, un-ignorable digital billboard--like the debt clock, only bigger--and this one keeps a running tally of our fellow Americans who die by gun violence, be it accident, suicide or murder. Along with that ever-climbing tally come pictures of the victims. Men, women, children. Ten seconds per picture, around the clock every day of the year, 30,000-plus per annum from now on, to remind us of the real price of hillbilly buffoonery.

And where would we erect such a billboard? In every state capitol, for a start. Plus, an extra huge one at 11251 Waples Mill Road in Fairfax, Va. Right across the street from NRA headquarters.

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