BY D. REED ECKHARDT
Seventeen people, mostly students, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Fla., are gunned down by an expelled, 19-year old former student.
In response, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signs legislation controlling gun use in the state. New laws include: the raising of the legal age for to buy guns to 21; a three-day waiting period for purchases;
The people of Dayton, Ohio, see 10 members of their community out for an evening’s entertainment gunned down in a matter of moments. Some 27 others are wounded.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine now wants a version of a "red flag" law to take guns away from those who are dangers to themselves. Those are included in his 17-point plan to reduce gun violence. Background checks for all gun purchases and transfers are a key part of the strategy.
In El Paso, Texas, 22 people are killed at a Walmart and 24 others are wounded. Now 72 percent of residents in the state support “red flag” laws. And Gov. Mike Abbott is calling for town halls to discuss ways to dampen gun violence. He has committed to nothing, but the Texas push for gun rights all the time, every time, no longer is his rallying cry.
Why does it take the death of students, babies, loving couples, people out for a night on the town for America’s gun-loving governors to suddenly get religion on gun control?
Wouldn’t it make more sense to get ahead of the game? Why not put place common-sense gun controls in place before a crisis happens rather than wade through the blood and suffering after a massacre only then to fall before the bloody red light of common sense like the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus?
Indeed, why not?
Unfortunately, we live in Wyoming, and common sense and state government, including the governor, can’t be found in the same sentence. Their silence on the issue of guns in the wake of the recent massacres is deafening. And lawmakers continue to spout such nonsense as more guns will make the state safer. Ask Govs. Scott, DeWine and Abbott about that now – as they bury their state’s children.
Is it really going to take a slaughter in downtown Rock Springs or the deaths of students in a classroom in Cheyenne before this state’s gun-loving leaders to act?
Apparently so, if you listen to House Majority Whip Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance, in a recent video interview at Cowboy State Daily (https://cowboystatedaily.com/?s=lindholm). He continues to spout the same half-truths and bull manure that Wyoming’s so-called leaders have spouted for years.
Unfortunately, he and others like him have the wheel of Wyoming’s legislative vehicle, and it is not going to veer in the direction of protecting this state’s residents any time soon – unless someone stands up to them.
Just a couple of example of Lindholm’s bull manure.
He says he opposes “red flag” laws because he doesn’t want his neighbor having the power to call the police who then, in turn, will come crashing into his house to take away the guns that he shares his bed with. Crap. “Red flag” laws require that arguments be made in legal and judicial proceedings before guns can be confiscated. The goal is to provide proper balance between protecting the community and the right to own guns. Thanks, but if my neighbor is out of his or her mind, and really don’t want them waving a gun around.
Similarly, Lindholm conveniently ignores the fact that two-thirds of Wyoming suicides are committed by those with access to guns, the third-highest rate in America. Apparently the representative would rather sacrifice the lives of his fellow Wyomingites on the altar of the Second Amendment rather than to let family members or others limit the suicidals’ access to guns.
Another Lindholm lie. He argues that gun buybacks don’t work. That the slaughter that occurred at Christchurch, New Zealand, occurred despite buybacks. What he conveniently fails to mention – either out of ignorance or purposeful propaganda – is that the New Zealand buyback began after the terrorists struck, not before, and it is being celebrated as a success by the people of that nation.
Or how about Lindholm’s phony defense of the need for assault weapons: The people need to be able to defend themselves against their government. This is not 1776, and the British are not coming. Only those who have gone round the bend really believe the American government is coming to get their guns. Yet these same people are running the Legislature? God help us all.
There are a number of common-sense proposals that would be worthy of promotion and passage. But only if the state’s more moderate politicians would band together and stand up to the bullies like Lindholm who run the Legislature with an iron fist. Are they really going to let these true believers allow students die in school hallways?
Here are a few sensible solutions that won’t rob anyone of their Second Amendment rights:
n Red flag laws: Getting court approval to remove guns from those who are dangers to themselves or others.
n Limits on gun magazines. Experts say this is, perhaps, the biggest step that would save people’s lives in mass shootings.
n Background checks on all guns sales and transfers, even among private parties. Violent persons, criminals, the mentally ill should not have access to guns, period.
n Waiting periods on gun purchases. This can prevent those making rash decisions from taking their lives or the lives of others.
n A ban on the sale of assault and military-style weapons. Unless, of course, Wyoming Game and Fish is going to allow the slaughter of entire herds of deer or elk at one time.
n Bans on violent offenders from possessing guns.
n “Shall issue” laws. These let law enforcement to limit the number of concealed weapons permits to those who shouldhave them, not those who wantto have them.
Someone in Wyoming has to take the first step forward. But don’t look to Tyler Lindholm and his ilk to do it. They are so caught up in stroking other and promoting their conservative agendas that even the slaughter of children in a Wyoming school is unlikely to move them.
I have known Gov. Mark Gordon to be a level-headed conservative. Won’t he at least begin the discussion? Will it really take an El Paso, or a Parkland, or a Dayton or one of the dozens of other mass shootings that have occurred in the last decade before Wyoming takes action?
What will the governor say when he stands over a coffin with the parents of a gunned-down school child? That at least we defended the Second Amendment?
D. Reed Eckhardt is the former executive editor of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.