Posted on Sun, Aug. 20, 2006
Gun issue keeps rural voters away from Dems
By David Gambrel
If you look at a U.S. map that shows county by county where candidates for president have won and lost in recent elections, almost none of the counties where Democrats won are in rural areas. As a rural Democrat this greatly concerns me.
One issue that has severely hampered the Democratic Party in rural America, particularly the South,is gun control. I have found that urban and rural people sometimes have completely different views on this issue. For urbanites, guns are often associated with school shootings, gangs and crime.
When rural Americans, particularly Southern males, think of guns, it is often from a totally different perspective. To many of my friends, guns are family heirlooms. Shotguns or hunting rifles that once belonged to grandpa usually fall into the category of "it's not worth much, but I wouldn't take anything for it."
The old gun might bring back memories of opening day of a rabbit or deer season from long ago. Sometimes it is not even a whole gun.
All that survives of my grandfather's gun is the lock. Years ago, a dear friend told me that the lock came from a gun made around 1812. My aunts have told me that in the 1930s, grandfather would melt lead in the fireplace to make bullets for the old black-powder rifle. The rifle provided protection and put food on the table for his wife and nine children.
That brings me to a more practical reason that rural people are so staunch in their support of gun rights. When it comes to protection in rural America, more often than not, you're on your own. It is just not practical to have a law enforcement officer on every corner as it is in the city.
Even in the best circumstances, it sometimes can be 30 minutes before help arrives. My mother just turned 70 and lives alone. How can she protect herself from an intruder twice her size? Call 911? Install a security system? By the time help arrived she would be dead.
So when politicians start talking about anything that remotely resembles a threat to Second Amendment rights, many rural Americans get their dander up. I have several friends who are single-issue voters when it comes to gun control. Right or wrong, that is how they have voted and will continue to vote.
Gun control advocates would have us believe that organizations such as the National Rifle Association exaggerate the threat to private gun ownership. More than that, they would tell us not to worry, that the government will protect us.
Tell that to those law-abiding citizens in New Orleans whose weapons were seized in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. If there was ever a time in the history of New Orleans that private citizens needed weapons for protection, it was after the hurricane.
There are also those who would have us believe that ordinary citizens cannot be trusted with guns.
Remember all of the uproar when the Kentucky General Assembly passed the concealed carry law? Several gun control advocates predicted something akin to Dodge City in Kentucky. But responsible Kentucky gun owners proved them wrong.
We who believe that the Second Amendment was intended by our founding fathers to protect the individual's right to keep and bear arms also must doggedly stress that with rights come responsibilities.
Just as strongly as I believe in the right to own a gun, I believe in the importance of safety. My father was killed in a hunting accident at age 27, so gun safety is not a trifling matter to me.
No one should possess a firearm without knowing its safe and proper use. Most important, if you have children in your home, they must not be allowed improper access to your weapons.
For those who believe the national party should stay the course on this issue, be warned: If it does, the victory map will continue to be more Republican than Democratic.
David Gambrel of Waynesburg is a minister and Lincoln County's property valuation administrator. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And so will be the next "moderate" gun control push from the Demo-rats.
Well at least this is one Dem who 'gets it'.