June 11, 2023
This weekend I manned a Republican booth at Old Annville Day, an annual street fair in my hometown. A gentleman from Switzerland with a heavy accent stopped by the booth to satisfy his curiosity about American politics. He described himself as a conservative.
He made sure we knew he was not a US citizen and was not eligible to vote here. He simply had some questions. Among other topics, he asked why American Republicans are so opposed to gun control laws in light of incidents of gun violence in our country.
I began by explaining why the right to bear arms is so important in America. After all, it was a government effort to confiscate firearms that launched the American Revolution and cemented the notion that individuals have a fundamental right to defend themselves.
Then I told him that rather than focus on the item being used for violent purposes, we should focus on changing hearts, healing minds, and advancing the societal notions that life actually matters and that every life is sacred.
I pointed out that the worst school massacre in history was not by firearms, but by explosives. In 1927, while Charles Lindbergh was making the first transatlantic flight, Andrew Kehoe killed 45 and wounded 58 in the Bath School Massacre.
A deranged individual hell-bent on violence will use whatever tool they can find to inflict it. Automobiles & knives have been used. Our problem lies not with those objects, but with people who live in a society which does not value life at its highest deserved level.
I added that in some large American cities where gun violence is rampant, prosecutors are not fully charging perpetrators of gunplay, but instead are reducing charges and releasing perpetrators back on the street. We impeached Philadelphia's Larry Krasner last year.
I informed him of the recent horrific triple homicide in nearby Lebanon, which was committed after a judge made some very questionable decisions about the perpetrators on prior charges, which appear to have made the murders possible.
When current laws are not being properly enforced and/or prosecuted, adding new laws which also may not be enforced or prosecuted would only really impact the law-abiding citizen who by nature would feel obligated to comply. A deranged criminal mind wouldn't be impacted.
It makes no sense whatsoever to impose burdens on law-abiding citizens to address the actions of deranged criminals, or to make a law-abiding citizen's fundamental right of self-defense more difficult to exercise in any way.
He said "but times have changed since colonial days" when these rights were first written down. I agreed that they have, but added that the principles behind those words remain as true and essential as ever, regardless of technological advances.
Our foreign visitor nodded his head and said he understood my points and that he had never considered some of them. Providing the Republican POV to someone devoid of any impetus to attack or toss insults often used by American anti-gun zealots was refreshing.
I didn't notice until the end of our conversation that a handful of passersby had paused at the booth to listen in on our conversation. When we finished, a woman approached, shook my hand and said, "Thank you for what you just said there."
Tomorrow I will be standing with legislative colleagues and other concerned Pennsylvanians at the annual 2nd Amendment rally being held at the capitol in Harrisburg at 10 am. I invite you to join me in standing for your right to keep and bear arms.