A couple of weeks ago I used this space to discuss the U.S. Supreme Court decision rejecting a restrictive gun law from Illinois, and opined the court had opened the door to possibly hundreds of test cases. Indeed, printed on the same page, there was a story reporting Chicago adopted a new test ordinance less than 72 hours after the SCOTUS rejection. Try, try again.

I received more response to that column than any other. Most of it literate and interesting. A couple challenged everything including, I think, my manhood. May have been the spelling and the @#/%(*. Because that column focused mostly on the court decision, a common question I received was what I personally thought about gun control and, given my unloaded weapons at home, what my bonafides were to even have an informed opinion. Fair enough.

Yes, my pistols are unloaded. Responsible gun owners keep them that way when not in use. Experience: in the USAF many, many years back, I fired expert several times and was on a rifle team in competition. So I’m not totally ignorant about weaponry. It’s just that, as I grew older and got interested in new things like flying and sailplanes, shooting and other youthful pursuits fell by the wayside. Except for the occasional turkey I now prod in the backside with a pellet rifle.

What do I really think? Well, you asked.

Gun law challenges don’t come from Roseburg or Okanagen or Burley. They come mostly from large eastern cities where the prey is more likely to be human than a three-point buck. Or a turkey. Millions of Americans live in poverty areas… read “ghetto” … including some where even cops don’t like to go. Children are often victims. Killed in a crossfire between gangs or just walking to school. Homes of innocent people are shot up as street shooters run up the kills in indiscriminate murders.

To those innocent people, guns are not for sport. They don’t equate guns with knocking down an elk or trap shooting. To them, guns force them off their streets and keep them prisoner in their homes. They are denied the liberty you and I enjoy to use our neighborhoods safely.

Here’s a scenario about guns I see out there. Think about that word “liberty.” The first two guarantees in our Constitution don’t cover guns. The first two are “life” and “liberty.”

You and I may take guns to be part of our “liberty.” Fine. But people cowering inside their homes and burying children killed in crossfires can be said to be denied “liberty.” The liberty to walk their streets, sit on the porch, be assured their kids can play safely in a neighborhood and can walk to school as our kids do without being murdered. Liberty to live without constant fear.

I believe, one of these days, some sharp young attorney is going to take that word “liberty” and use the violent denial of that constitutionally guaranteed freedom to make a compelling case for tougher gun laws. You may differ and that’s O.K.. But the validity of law often turns on a single word. And, even without a law school education, I can make a good case that liberty denied is unconstitutional.

Again, I’m not anti-gun. But I’m willing to believe the issue is not black and white as the NRA does. It has many facets. All must be considered.

I’ve heard our Constitution described as a “flowing” or “living document” with the requirement that it be taken in total and not in pieces to suit a single argument as some zealots do with the Bible. I believe that. We are not assured one or the other of the guarantees. Or even most of them. We are guaranteed the right to them all.

We are a badly polarized nation at the moment. On everything. And gun control is one of the most divisive issues we have. We hear most about it from the loud extremes on either side. Both are wrong in their bellicose exclusivity. There are an awful lot of us … most of us … in the middle. And the middle is where workable compromises and solutions always come from. Always.

The middle doesn’t say much until pressure builds high enough. The middle ground view of guns is not everybody’s view. But, when pushed, ours may be the majority view. Blind, unquestioning defenders of gun ownership forget that at their peril. Pressure on the middle is building. Dead children in your street and bullet holes in your living room wall can do that.

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