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Why Did We Once Have a Gun-free Commons?

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I have lived in that country, and traversed that public commons, for over half a century. Welcome, young citizen, to the country we have made, which you now inherit. Is it possible you take our labor for granted? Are the sacrifices and service of my family invisible? They mean nothing to you? Your dubious "right" is paramount?

Recently a paranoid minority have pushed through new laws making it easier to carry sidearms in public. Their rationale; it is their "right". But these same people are strangely quiet about their responsibility to their fellow Americans, and remain mute and tongue-tied about the sanctity of a gun-free public commons.

Tribal thinking serves a platoon well, especially in hostile territory, among a hostile populace. But I challenge you to make a concise list of the ways in which civilian life in America is not, repeat not, like a tour of duty in Iraq. Reintegrating into American culture after a tour of duty is far more demanding, will take far more intellect, cunning, courage and discipline, than anything you have done in your young life to date.

You say you want to be ready to protect your family and friends. You do so at a cost, one you seem unwilling to notice: you intimidate innocent civilians who haven't lived private and public lives in the presence of firearms, haven't had to, and to whom the sight of an openly-carried sidearm is shocking. I have grown up around firearms, can field strip and reassemble a 100 year-old Savage .32 caliber semiautomatic blindfolded, and I'm shocked to see open-carry sidearms in public. I also choose to be aware of the shocking and stupid number of gun-related mishaps, and the harm they have caused the innocent.

I take my responsibility to other law-abiding, patriotic Americans very seriously. Their sense of safety matters to me. Have you really simplified your thinking to "It's me and my tribe against the world."? If so, you are pushing for a paradigm shift. A toxic one. Sorry, but most Americans, plenty of veterans among them, aren't ready to see public spaces and private businesses crowded with open-carry advocates. That is not the public commons that they, or my family, strove to create.

You open carry a sidearm into a Pick 'n Save, to be ready for any threat, but you fail to be ready for cold weather, for the possibility you'll have to spend more than a few minutes outdoors? Which scenario was more likely? It was so inconvenient to bring along a jacket? Is this balanced thinking? Or is it seriously distorted and faulty threat-assessment?

You emphasize that exposure numbed your arms and severely restricted the movement of your hands and fingers. Your concern: you couldn't draw your firearm in the Pick 'n Save parking lot.

My concern: you couldn't render first aid. What if an accident occurred in that parking lot? Statistically, that event is far, far more likely to occur. And you were not ready. What if the victim of that accident had been a nephew, a niece, or your friend?

You make the specious claim that you carry a sidearm to protect family members. You will soon be an uncle. You know a great deal about your firearm. I do too, and I also know a great deal about children. They are acutely aware of the emotional environment around them, and they have evolved to be experts in detecting fear and paranoia. Exposure to it does them great, long lasting harm.

That is why I and the majority of Americans do not carry sidearms in public, concealed or otherwise. Together, as Americans, we create a public commons where children, families, our elders, fathers and mothers, are protected from fear and paranoia, a far more prevalent and rampant malady than physical violence.

I suggest that you are not being honest with yourself, or with us. I suggest that you, at some level, planned to be a provocateur, that you are not so innocent, not so much the victim you portray. Your editorial is a cry for help.

Fear compels you to carry that firearm to guard against the statistically extremely remote possibility of a need to use it. I have a truly terrifying suggestion, one that no firearm can protect you from. See a therapist. The enemy isn't "out there" somewhere. The enemy has already broached your perimeter and burrowed into your psyche. You did not deprogram completely after your tour. You harbor trust issues that cause you to draw stark but illusory lines between your tribe and "outsiders". No sidearm can dislodge an enemy that lies within. And you can't face this enemy alone. You were trained and disciplined to work in a team.

The issue of your "right" to open-carry a sidearm is a red herring. The real issues will emerge after you summon the courage to submit to professionally facilitated self-examination, after you volunteer for a tour of duty inside your psyche. You are bound by honor, duty and self-respect to take that tour. You also owe it to your family and friends.

On this last tour of duty you will face fears more formidable, devious and cunning than any foe you faced in Iraq. But there is more. You will not be alone. And you will learn to throttle fear, to make your weakness a source of strength. You will gain new means to assess threats. You will forge new intellectual weapons to protect yourself, your family and your friends from fear. These are more powerful than any sidearm. And they are a gift to those you love.

No one can tell you how to do this. You must teach yourself, with help from your team. It will take discipline and courage. Your goal is to join us on a public commons that is free of fear. So many Americans have sacrificed so much to create it. It is a blessing of liberty. Accept this gift. You are welcome here.

I am an American, a father, a son, an uncle, and many more things to my family, friends and neighbors. And I tell you, my son, out of a fierce love of freedom, and a fierce hatred of self-deceit, that you haven't come home yet. You are still at war, a war you cannot win until you dislodge the enemy within.

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Satirist Maynard McKillen hails from Wisconsin, where he enjoys skewering the idiots of the Republican-majority state government.

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... by Maynard McKillen on Saturday, Mar 22, 2014 at 11:28:19 AM
They are also ignorant chickenshits.  ... by Daniel Geery on Saturday, Mar 22, 2014 at 12:24:06 PM
No more ignorant than most, but they are sick. &n... by Paul Easton on Saturday, Mar 22, 2014 at 11:23:29 PM
You are right! I should have a heart. And I do. I ... by Daniel Geery on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 1:10:59 PM
Just think about how easy it would be to grab that... by Hosea McAdoo on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 3:24:04 PM
A friend of mine and I talked about this when the... by Daniel Geery on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 7:41:50 PM
I'll believe you aren't when you walk right up to ... by Stuart Chisholm on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 4:12:48 PM
Please explain: I aren't what?  As for poli... by Daniel Geery on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 7:48:17 PM
Just read your bio and have a Q for you: Why are y... by Daniel Geery on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 7:50:02 PM
I am indeed!  But I'm NOT a Republican/conser... by Stuart Chisholm on Monday, Mar 24, 2014 at 5:07:17 AM
You said you weren't inclined to bum rush a rifle-... by Stuart Chisholm on Monday, Mar 24, 2014 at 4:58:43 AM
My "official stand" regarding guns from my politi... by Daniel Geery on Monday, Mar 24, 2014 at 11:37:07 AM
I find that those who argue for "sensible gun regu... by Stuart Chisholm on Tuesday, Mar 25, 2014 at 7:00:25 PM
If I were in a "position of power," it is folks l... by Daniel Geery on Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014 at 9:06:55 AM
Why thank you, Daniel!  Very nice of you to s... by Stuart Chisholm on Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014 at 8:38:00 PM
Funny, but sad. ;(  You ask, "Why did we onc... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Saturday, Mar 22, 2014 at 7:36:59 PM
I was a big admirer of Mark but now I have to won... by Paul Easton on Saturday, Mar 22, 2014 at 11:51:40 PM
Is justice is best secured by individuals or by e... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 1:17:08 PM
1. The federal government is prohibited from using... by Stuart Chisholm on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 4:17:39 PM
1.  Not since NDAA 2012 & 2013 it isn't.... by Jill Herendeen on Monday, Mar 24, 2014 at 8:09:12 AM
"All laws repugnant to the Constitution are null a... by Stuart Chisholm on Tuesday, Mar 25, 2014 at 7:02:39 PM
The second amedment seems very clear to me. It sa... by Paul Easton on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 12:08:56 AM
When the US Constitution was written, the "well r... by JenniferNY on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 3:33:08 AM
As George Orwell pointed out, the meaning of words... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 1:49:42 PM
A militia, by definition, is the armed citizenry. ... by Stuart Chisholm on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 4:21:24 PM
Finally a voice of reason that supports the const... by JenniferNY on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 3:12:09 AM
. "Open-Carry fanatics insult the Public Commons:... by JenniferNY on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 3:42:27 AM
Beautifully said. Thank you for speaking truth for... by Theodora B Crawford on Saturday, Mar 22, 2014 at 1:16:44 PM
Short Version: The open-carry provocateur is pr... by PCM on Saturday, Mar 22, 2014 at 1:27:51 PM
" I have spent time overseas carrying firearms ev... by Eric Arthur Blair on Saturday, Mar 22, 2014 at 1:42:33 PM
(Continued from above)I don't like seeing people ... by Eric Arthur Blair on Saturday, Mar 22, 2014 at 1:43:33 PM
Wow! Who's the psycho paranoid? ... by Ms Nan on Saturday, Mar 22, 2014 at 8:40:41 PM
You are talking like people that LEGALLY open or ... by JenniferNY on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 4:28:56 AM
Eric: you seem worried about facing an armed attac... by Stuart Chisholm on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 4:29:44 PM
What a beautiful and compelling piece.  Tha... by revzef on Saturday, Mar 22, 2014 at 2:39:21 PM
No reason to be afraid of these sorts of fools.&nb... by Samson on Saturday, Mar 22, 2014 at 7:21:58 PM
"I so wish that the people who feel they must alw... by JenniferNY on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 4:44:00 AM
Well, you said it yourself: the majority ... by revzef on Monday, Mar 24, 2014 at 12:26:55 PM
Do you know any gun owners or open/concealed carri... by Stuart Chisholm on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 4:38:46 PM
My personal experiences with gun carriers:  ... by revzef on Monday, Mar 24, 2014 at 1:21:23 PM
I've spent considerable time researching facts, in... by Stuart Chisholm on Tuesday, Mar 25, 2014 at 7:15:25 PM
Oh, wow.  What a superb response to a person ... by Jerry Wesner on Saturday, Mar 22, 2014 at 3:16:01 PM
I enjoyed this article and I think there are man... by Taylor Morgeson on Saturday, Mar 22, 2014 at 3:49:53 PM
Well written! Sadly, the author is correct. The ... by Paul Repstock on Saturday, Mar 22, 2014 at 4:34:37 PM
Please tell me, Paul, how the ability to protect o... by Stuart Chisholm on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 4:46:23 PM
The apparent goal of the NRA is to make open carry... by Daniel Vasey on Saturday, Mar 22, 2014 at 5:17:23 PM
Living out west these days, of course one hears a ... by Samson on Saturday, Mar 22, 2014 at 7:15:53 PM
It's working out great in Chicago, isn't it? ... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Saturday, Mar 22, 2014 at 7:42:37 PM
Mark; as you've said many times before, there are... by Paul Repstock on Saturday, Mar 22, 2014 at 7:59:27 PM
Unfortunately, when the people do not have the ab... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 3:06:42 PM
Chicago has a law that says to check all guns at t... by Samson on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 9:38:17 AM
There was an unconstitutional "law" which prohibit... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 2:42:48 PM
An excellent analysis and since he wrote the issu... by Paul Easton on Saturday, Mar 22, 2014 at 11:43:56 PM
I never realized the danger we were in. I have bee... by Hosea McAdoo on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 8:35:03 AM
True, BUT apparently the FEAR (speaking of fear) t... by Jill Herendeen on Monday, Mar 24, 2014 at 11:51:02 AM
Historically,   gun carry prohibitions ... by sesquiculus on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 10:27:09 AM
The writer is absolutly correct.The second says "t... by kanawah on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 1:51:41 PM
ROFLMAO!!!  An anonymous commentator telling... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 3:18:04 PM
Haven't been paying attention to current events, e... by Stuart Chisholm on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 4:55:20 PM
To try to debate and revolve this issue in a coun... by michael payne on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 5:10:51 PM
The Framers and their contemporaries referred to a... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 7:05:19 PM
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to th... by michael payne on Monday, Mar 24, 2014 at 10:49:48 AM
So, are you saying that we should ignore what the ... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Monday, Mar 24, 2014 at 11:45:20 AM
In Federalist No. 46, Madison calculates that th... by sesquiculus on Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 at 11:21:06 PM
Good point, but the folks from the Ministry don't... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Monday, Mar 24, 2014 at 11:33:40 AM