I own four guns. All are rifles or shotguns, none a handgun. In my younger days I was an avid hunter, and I still love tramping the hills and marshes, although I don't have time to get out very often. I also enjoy target shooting.
The Utah gun lobby does not represent me.I don't like the radical positions gun lobbyists are inclined to take, and I especially resented their behavior in the just-completed legislative session.
The Legislature's action (actually, inaction) on gun issues in the recent session baffles me.
I've always argued that the Legislature's behavior pretty well reflects the desires of the general public. The part-time lawmakers spend most of their year as regular citizens, working ordinary jobs and interacting with real people over backyard fences, at church and in the checkout line at the grocery store.
Utah's citizen lawmakers are not isolated or detached like their federal counterparts, so they usually have a good feel for what citizens want, and their votes hit the target.
That makes it all the harder to understand how they could have misfired so badly with regard to guns in churches and elsewhere. Can they possibly believe that Utahns want the 15,000 people with concealed weapons permits to pack loaded handguns into private homes, businesses, and even schools and churches?
Opinion polls show Utahns (9 out of 10) overwhelmingly believe individuals, businesses, schools and churches ought to be able to prohibit guns on their premises if they so choose. That's common sense. If private property rights mean anything at all, I ought to be able to post a sign in the window of my home, business or church that says, "NO GUNS ALLOWED."
I really don't want a guy with a bulge under his armpit or a big lump in his coat pocket to come into my home to repair my plumbing, add a new phone line or even drop by for a friendly chat. I'd just as soon he leaves his hardware in his car.
But for the majority of Utah legislators, gun rights apparently take precedence over private property rights. They chose to ignore voter desires. They chose not to repair a flawed law that could apparently get me in legal trouble if I ban a pistol-packing person from my home. Or business. Or church. Or school.
Ban guns. Get sued. That's what the Legislature, in plain English, told Utah citizens. That's outrageous! Lawmakers left their constituents wide open to lawsuits if they try to keep guns out of their homes.
I refuse to believe that lawmakers were so dumb as to believe they were doing what citizens want. I believe most of them fully understood they were acting against the wishes of the vast majority of their constituents.
Now, I don't mind legislators voting their conscience and periodically acting contrary to public opinion.
But I have a hard time believing that the majority of Utah's 104 legislators really supports this crazy law that stomps all over private property rights.
The only way I can explain their action is fear. Fear of the gun lobby.
Lawmakers feared the gun lobby more than they feared their constituents, opinion polls, a statement against guns in churches by the LDS Church or anything else.
The gun lobby is well-organized, well-funded, highly active and politically experienced. Lawmakers dare not stand up to its withering barrage.
I'm afraid common sense alone won't be enough to turn this situation around. It's going to take an organized effort, a bombardment of calls, letters and faxes from angry citizens to make legislators fear their constituents more than they fear the gun lobby.