Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Face in the Crowd

I selected him at random out of a crowd at the rally numbering about a thousand, according to the head counters, though the crowd seemed larger than that to me. He was, I would guess, about 50+ years, dressed for warmth, as was most of the crowd on this cold mid-January day. We were slightly pressed together, people bustling and talking on all sides of us. The crowd stretched the entire length of the Capital building and was deep enough so that those on the edge spilled across the driveway and parking lot, some standing on the grass on the North side of the Capital. As most people who have over the years participated in rallies well know, this is the cold side of the grounds. For present purposes, we’ll call him Mr. Easton, the town he hailed from. I purposely did not ask him his name, neither did I identify myself as a political writer. If you want a canned response from a member of a crowd at a rally – any rally – you have only to identify yourself as a media person. I had not intended to report on the rally and brought with me no recording device. The interview below is a fresh and faithful recollection of our conversation.

Q: What brought you here?

A: The rally. (Try a less dumb question, Don.)

Q: Did you travel a long way?

A: From Easton, a little far out. It’s country out there, the backwoods, not all that many people where I live.

Q: Did you come with anyone?

A: No, just myself.

Q: How’d you hear about the rally?

A: I saw a story in the newspaper.

Q: Are you affiliated with one of the groups?

A: No.

Q: I know Easton. Pretty out there. (He nods, taking my measure. I lived for a bit in Redding.  Went to school in Danbury, lived in Bethel. Maybe I wasn’t a snoop after all. He began to relax.) You own a gun?

A: A rifle. Have to. I bought it after those murders in Cheshire. We live so deep in the woods it would take forever for the police to respond, if anything happened. That woke me up (the Cheshire murders.) You have to depend on yourself.

Q: Yeah, it was pretty awful. You probably had a gun as a kid.

A: They came in, beat him over the head with a bat, raped his wife, his daughter, set their house on fire, murdered everyone but the doctor… I forgot his name.

Q: Petit. (He nodded. There was a rustling at the microphones. The event was beginning.)

A: When I was a kid, I had a bolt action 22. Nothing after that until Cheshire.

Q: What do you have now?

A: (Uneasily) Semi-automatic.

Q: That’ll do it.

Before the first speaker mounted the rostrum, Mr. Easton said hurriedly he was not against rational gun controls. But unless the state was prepared to put a policeman at the end of his driveway, he needed his rifle.


Libertarian Advocate said...

Not against "rational gun controls."

See, there's the problem. The terms "rational controls," "reasonable controls," "common-sense controls" are completely subjective depending on the view of a particular individual or group.

We now all know what Andrew Cuomo considers "commonsense controls." Diane Feinstein has also made her views on "reasonable restrictions;" so too has Michael Bloomberg.

The problem: I disagree adamantly with each of those politicians in favor of the second Amendment with respect to their understandings of those words as they apply them to firearm ownership, and I KNOW that I am far from a No Restrictions At All kind of pro 2A supporter.

The left, talks about having a national conversation, but what they really mean by that is that the want a sit down and STFU and we'll tell how its gonna be dress down session. Sorry, but with elemental constitutional rights, it doesn't work that way.

To paraphrase Yamamoto: The gun banners have indeed woken a sleeping giant.

Don Pesci said...

Yeah, I take your point. It might be better to talk about efficacious controls. An effective piece of legislation, for instance, might be one that in practice produces a desirable effect (fewer killings in schools); the difficulty is that consequences follow actions, and the right consequence often cannot be determined until a bill is enacted. In our system of governance, nothing is so deathless as an ineffective bill. There is sound reason to doubt that any of the bills presently under consideration would have prevented the mass murder in Sandy Hook.

Here’s an example of efficacious legislation: The only thing that worked to prevent further killings at Sandy Hook was a timely response by first responders. Now, the actual response time is a deep dark secret. Those who can tell us that the response time was, say, twenty minutes are all biting their tongues because a police investigation has not yet been completed. One news account ventured that the response time in Sandy Hook was 20 minutes. Assume that to be true. We know positively that had the response time been 40 minutes, many more children would have lost their lives. And we may reason that shortening the response time to, say, 10 minute would have saved lives. So, how many bills have been offered by national and state legislators designed to reduce response time? How to do this is a question for technicians: You might establish call boxes in schools similar to fire call boxes. Or you might geographically shorten the distance between first responders and schools by decentralizing police departments, a suggestion I made in a column. Measures of this kind could be efficacious, which is to say they could save lives.

I don’t think adding a prohibitive tax on bullets would be efficacious because most criminals can easily waltz their way around prohibited products: Just ask Al Capone.

peter brush said...

Thanks for the report, Don. The crowd was bigger than any of the "tea party" rallies I've been to up there. Cop told me that there was a constant coming and going, too, so that the estimates might be low.

How much gun control should be our Hartford or D.C. pols be able to impose? Let's say the right to bear arms is "fundamental." The courts should apply what they refer to as "strict scrutiny" as they do when reviewing statutes that impact rights favored by the left; those that affect the first amendment, for example. The government must have a compelling interest, and the law's got to be shown to actually work. A high hurdle for the legislature to jump over, as opposed to the "rational basis" test (which the legislature almost always passes) applied to laws affecting non-fundamental rights like making a living or using your property.

Pauldz said...

How will we know if ANY of the new gun control laws will result in fewer school mass killings? If there are no school mass shootings in the next five years, what does that mean? That these new gun laws are effective, or more likely that school mass shootings are in fact rare events.

And why does a mass shooting in a suburban, affluent, mostly white school cause national "action" while for years inner city children have been picked off like so many targets in a shooting gallery?

It's analagous to people having a fear of flying and so drive everywhere, when in fact the probability of dying in an auto accident is many multiples of the probability of dying in an airplane crash.

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