Lord, protect us from people who are certain that they are right.
The West Virginia Legislature – both houses – now have a Republican majority. In the House of Delegates, it is a nearly veto-proof majority. So far, the world has not come to an end. The parties come, the parties go. And we have just exchanged one group of vain, self-righteous and not-particularly bright individuals for another. The all for Truth, Justice and the American Way, or their version of it.
The Republican majority is doing a lot of odd things. They still have not found their base. Or, perhaps, they have misidentified their base, just as the Democrats have done over the last 10 years.
This is just the current version of pandering to the yellow-dog partisan. Usually, it’s in reference to a “yellow-dog Democrat,” who will vote for the party’s nominee automatically. But in truth, the Republicans have every bit as much party loyalty as Democrats. They just disguise the fact by voting in each separate race – for the Republicans, naturally – than voting a straight ticket. At least a lot of Democrats have conceded that they trust the party more than themselves.
By the West Virginia Constitution, we have "A . . . right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and State . . ."
Free speech is a natural right of mankind. That doesn't stop some governments from banning speech which they don't like, but sedition laws do not destroy the right. It's "only " wrongfully restricted.
The same applies to religion. Handle snakes, keep non-Muslims out of Mecca or declare that there is no God. Constitutionally, it’s all the same to me. If you want me to give you my version of religion, just ask me. If you don't, then don't ask me. What could be easier? The headache comes when others demand that you believe as they do, whether you want to or not.
The right to travel freely is another natural right of mankind. Contrary to what the DMV says, a driver’s license is a right, not a privilege. To exercise the right, you have to show minimal competency – training. And you can choose to do certain bad things which will restrict that right.
So what tentative lessons might we draw from this?
A – Don't harm others with speech. That's easily accomplished - Do not cry “Fire” in a crowded theater. Be advised, however, that in some parts of the world, you might get a fatwa slapped on you anyway.
B - Keep your snakes inside. Don't push a particular religious viewpoint as a requirement to participate in government. (Of course this is under attack. Did you think that everyone is rational?)
C - If you drive a motor vehicle, stay on the right side of the road. A driver"s license says that you have at least heard about the rule and that you didn't mess up when you had the driving test. It's annoying to go to the DMV. But you have to put up with just a little to live in an organized society.
What the current system of conceal weapons permits does is require that someone actually demonstrate how to handle a gun. (Actually, the training takes considerably less time that learning to drive a car.) But you have had training. (I don’t think that the current training requirement is anything like enough. But it’s something.)
If you haven't learned to drive, you may cause an
accident. If you handle weapons ineptly, this is the chance you take: Unexpectedly, a dense piece of metal will be accelerated to somewhere near the sound barrier and head off in who-knows-what direction.
With the change, more people will carry firearms. I doubt it if it's as many as the anti-gun crowd thinks, but I could be wrong. Those additional people will included folks who don't know to stay on the right side of the roadway and who are clueless about the safe handling of weapons. In a year or two of the new way of doing things, you’ll be able to separate the know’s versus the beat’s-me’s. The beat's-me will have dirty weapons (because they can't take them apart), stick a gun in a waistband but not with a holster and do other stupid things.
When this passes – and it will – No. 3 Equity Court will be posted, "No guns allowed.” I do not consider that people who carry under the rules currently existing are much of a threat. And anyway, a sign won’t stop anyone intent on harm. But I’m not having some fumble-fingered idiot packing a weapon into my office.
Also, greater part of people who own or lease building are going to post their buildings “No guns allowed.” A weapon left in your car does not protect anybody, but neither will some projectile which come out of it accidentally. I conclude that an untrained idiot is more of a danger than a bad guy. Sad, isn’t it?
And we’re back to the fact that the Republican Party has not recognized its base. The extreme right is not a base, anymore than the extreme left is a base to the Democrats. (One reason that the Republicans are in control of the Legislature is that the Democrats forgot that lesson more than the Republicans did.) Your base has to be the moderates. These are the people who are able to apply some thought to what is reasonable and what is not a reasonable trade-off for living in an organized organized society. How much is that? The Devil is in the details.
Note to my friends in the Legislature: Vain, self-righteous and not-particularly bright? I wasn't referring to you. And I didn't include any mention of your ability to successfully hide your own Easter eggs.