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Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011

Gunfight in the O.K. Capitol

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It's tempting to support the Scott Walker administration's crazy idea of allowing armed gunmen to freely roam the marble halls of Wisconsin's state Capitol.

After all, why should Republican legislators who so eagerly passed concealed carry of weapons of human destruction be any safer from unpredictable acts of deadly violence than any of the rest of us?

But then you think of all the innocent state employees working for drastically reduced wages in that building, the concerned citizens who show up every day imploring their representatives to pass far more decent legislation and, especially, the high-spirited classes of schoolchildren who regularly fill the halls to see and hear how democracy is supposed to work.

That's when it hits you just how profane it is to openly encourage bringing deadly weapons into a place where a rational discussion of important issues is supposed to arrive at intelligent, workable solutions.

At least that's the ideal we've always tried to teach our children. The memory of Democrats and Republicans working together honestly to accommodate differing points of view is rapidly fading into the past.

Don't believe anybody who tries to tell you this is the way politics have always been. The extreme moves by the current Republican Party, on both the state and national levels, are new and very dangerous. In Wisconsin, that's now armed and dangerous.

Republicans are fond of saying that those of us who worry about public safety as a result of guns flooding our streets and public places are simply alarmists.

They note that Wisconsin is the 49th state to pass a concealed carry law at the behest of National Rifle Association lobbyists. If there were any problems in those other states, they say, we would have heard about them.

This is an example of brazenly lying in public and expecting to get away with it. “If there were any problems”!

Did Republicans really not hear about the shooting of 20 people including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in January in the concealed carry state of Arizona? Five died, including a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge. It was in all the papers.

Or for an example of deadly shootings in government buildings, all we have to do is remember the City Hall murders of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk by a crazed former San Francisco supervisor.

Many of us lived through the '60s, when we lost three of our most gifted national leaders—President John Kennedy, Sen. Robert Kennedy and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.—to murder by gun.



GOP's Absurd Assumption

We live in a country where mentally unstable people regularly obsess on both guns and political leaders.

As the Republican Party allows itself to get pushed further and further away from rational thought by extremists on the political fringe, they have become, in words commonly associated with mental illness, dangerous to themselves and others.

Justifying the decision to allow guns in the Capitol, Republicans repeatedly described people who want to carry deadly weapons into public places as good people exercising their constitutional right. It is an absurd assumption.

You don't have to go back very far to find a dangerous murderer who enthusiastically supported the radical Wisconsin Republican view on concealed carry. In Milwaukee, you only have to go back to last week.

Jesus Gonzalez, convicted last week of first-degree reckless homicide and first-degree reckless injury, is a poster boy for both concealed and open carry in Wisconsin. In fact, the posters already exist.

If the long-haired Gonzalez had gotten an '80s bowl cut instead of shaving his head for his trial, he would have bore a striking resemblance to the personification of deadly human violence, Anton Chigurh, in the film No Country for Old Men.

Gonzalez was such a pro-gun activist he filed a federal lawsuit against West Milwaukee and Chilton because he was arrested for disorderly conduct for openly carrying a gun into crowded Menards and Walmart stores in those communities.

Like many others who feel they need guns to protect themselves, Gonzalez apparently was an extremely fearful man.

According to trial testimony, his two unarmed victims may have been loud leaving a bar late at night in Gonzalez's neighborhood. That was all it took for Gonzalez, on the street near his home, to feel threatened enough to fire seven shots into the two men, paralyzing one from the waist down and killing the other.

Every one of the murderers we've mentioned had never killed anybody before. That means they would have qualified for concealed carry permits under Wisconsin's law.

If they had waited until November 2011, Lee Harvey Oswald, Sirhan Sirhan, James Earl Ray, Jared Loughner, Dan White and Jesus Gonzalez would have been welcomed into Wisconsin's crowded state Capitol with their guns.

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