Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mitt Romney, Utah Voters and Mixed-Up Priorities

I live in Utah where Mitt Romney is almost deified. I ask my neighbors, "What about the the issues that concern Utahns the most including abortion, homosexual marriage, government control over health care (and other major parts of the economy) and gun control?" Romney's history is on the wrong side of those issues. He says he's changed. Maybe so, but remember that he's a politician with no proven track record on God's side (and Utah's side) of those issues.

There is no doubt in my mind that of all the 2008 presidential candidates, Mitt Romney was among the best in possessing the leadership skills needed to lead this nation. While there are some religious bigots who would never vote for him regardless of the real issues (there's no point in fighting for their votes), I believe that it is his stand (past and present) and flip-flopping on a few key issues that will damage him most.

During his interview with Tim Russert on Meet the Press on 16 Dec 2007, Governor Romney reiterated his support for a ban on "assault weapons" (whatever that is -- I always though assault is a verb, not an adjective). He also said he "would look at weapons that pose extraordinary lethality...keep weapons of "unusual lethality from being on the street." What does "unusual lethality" mean? As compared to what? Is a firearm Romney deems to have "extraordinary lethality" any more lethal than, say, a 9-inch butcher knife, a quart of gasoline, a nine-iron, a T-Ball bat, or a 54-inch brown shoe lace?

Romney should learn that so-called "assault" weapons are less "lethal" than a typical hunting rifle. In fact, I tell my Hunter Education classes that "assault" weapons, although legal for big-game hunting in Utah, are not suitable for big-game hunting because they are not powerful enough for an ethical and humane kill. Just because an "assault" weapon has menacing-looking features (ie removable magazine, pistol grip, black stock, etc.) is not a rational reason to ban or restrict it.

As for his term "unusual lethality", Romney would be interested to know that the ancient .45-70 cartridge, developed in 1873 for the US Army, is far more devastating than the puny little .22-calber "assault" weapon round with which our GIs are fighting for their lives in Southwest Asia. In fact, the .45-70 is suitable for hunting any animal on the planet whereas that "assault" weapon round is best suited for woodchucks and prairie dogs. Were I a soldier in Iraq, I'd much rather be armed with a 100-year-old Marlin Model 1895 lever-action cowboy rifle chambered in .45-70 than a modern M4 or M16 "assault" rifle

I think Romney grossly underestimates how much we gun owners are concerned by his statements and actions, past and present, regarding firearms. It appears that he underestimates how much the typical gun owner feels that our liberty is threatened by such statements.

Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I assume that his statements and actions regarding firearms are rooted in inexperience with firearms, and there is nothing wrong with that, even for a "life-long hunter" such as Romney -- if he is open to learning what he needs to know to gain the trust of 80-100 million law-abiding gun owners.

He should learn, for example, that the shooting sports are among the safest of all sports. I lead a 4-H Shooting Sports club. Statistically, the kids in our club are safer on the firing range or hunting than they are on the soccer field. CDC statistics show they are more likely to drown in their bathtub than they are to die from a gunshot.

Romney should learn that "children" killed by gunshots are most likely to be 19-year-old gang members than innocent 6-year-olds. Banning "assault" weapons or "weapons of unusual lethality" is not the answer because these guns simply are not killing innocent children or even gang-member "children".

Romney should learn that "assault" weapons really do have legitimate sporting purposes as well as self-defense. Just come to the Utah Summer Games in June and watch 14-year-old boys and girls compete in rifle matches alongside adults with an AR-15 "assault" rifle. I'm proud to say that a lot of those kids shoot better than I do.

Romney should learn that economist John Lott writes that guns are used to stop a crime about 2.5 million times a year in this country, and usually shots are never even fired in this scenario. Lott's studies reveal that for every life lost to a gun, 65 lives are saved.

Perhaps if Governor Romney took a 4-day defensive handgun course, a tactical carbine course, and a course with full-auto guns, he would have a little more credibility. I wrote him with that suggestion. I suggested he include his family in that training. His time would be well-spent both personally and politically. He and his family would have a lot of relaxing, wholesome fun. He'd gain the respect he desperately need from us gun owners. He did not respond to my letter.

We gun owners would like to be on Governor Romney's side -- if we can only trust him to be on ours. In the meantime, I suggest that the governor keep in mind that there are no mass shootings at gun shows or on the rifle range. Mass murders only happen where guns are banned.

Related books:
More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws, Third Edition
More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws, Third Edition

Armed-Citizen Solution To Crime In The Streets: So Many Criminals, So Few Bullets
Armed-Citizen Solution To Crime In The Streets: So Many Criminals, So Few Bullets

Gun Facts

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