Mandan News

Dan Ulmer: The gray area of gun control

Layout 1 (Page 1)Some folks in my tribe were upset when Senator Heitkamp voted against the recent background checks for gun purchases. And before you head off into either side of the gun issue, allow me a moment here.

I’m not a gun nut because I find them quite dangerous. When I was a kid I was a rabid hunter – every day after school, weekends, and the whole gig that goes along with being raised out here on the prairie. There were times when I was a really good shot and times when I spent the day blowing holes in the air. I loved the hunt but never cared much for the kill.

It was hard to shoot a bird then walk up to it and ring its neck… but I got over that. I remember hunting ducks with Fats at Rice Lake. There was this calm narrow strip of water with tall reeds on each side. Thinking we could do some serious pass shooting, we laid out the decoys between us, he hunkered down in the cattails on one side of this slip of water and I hunkered in on the other. A teal came swooping in and I jumped up and, BOOM! I nailed it just as it flew between us. And then this God awful hollering, “FUDD, YOU !@#!er, you just shot me!”

Oh my God! I dropped my gun and waded through the decoys thinking Fats was lying in a pool of his own blood. Still swearing a blue streak; Fats pulled off his glove to show me that a BB had left a tiny red blister on his pinky finger. Let’s just say he was pissed and I was so relieved that my knees buckled.

I’ve shot most every gun I ever wanted to shoot and, for the record, I’ve never worried about having my background checked, nor have I ever enjoyed the notion of having anyone look at it without my permission.

So gun control has never really been a front burner issue for me, because if I want one I can get one anytime and way I want to, and that’s just the way things are. I get all the hoopla about outlaw guns and only outlaws will have guns and the magazine issue and on and on. Like you, I’ve met a few folks who, in my opinion, should never be allowed to touch a weapon… but that’s just my opinion, yours may differ. So I understand how folks conclude that all gun owners need to have their backgrounds checked before they can possess a firearm.

But when I took the time to think about background checks I couldn’t help but ask what things are we looking for? The doc prescribed me anti-depressants; does that make me into someone who needs watching? How about all those folks who’ve ever said nasty things about our President or Congress or expressed their anger at a friend…?

Who amongst us doesn’t have something in their background that might be specious? Who gets to check? What will they look for, a bout with depression, a nasty argument with your spouse or friend, maybe a fight you had in high school, or how bout those who sign up to one of those undercover groups like the Masons or Knights of Columbus, an unsatisfactory grade in works and plays well with others? What are the background checkers gonna check? Will there be any limitations?

Seems to me that carte blanche background checks will affirm that there’s more than just “Big Brother’s” nose under the tent, and it won’t be long before he gets up and walks away with the tent.

Freedom is a messy thing, its tugs and pull create a lot of gray matter. Indeed, if we are going to pursue the right to life, liberty and happiness then we are going to have to figure out how to get along better with each other and become less interested in monitoring each other’s activities by respecting people’s privacy.

Like it or not, our desires for peaceful streets and secure homes have virtually eviscerated our privacy rights and encouraged those who believe in an armed citizenry. Guns are here to stay; let’s hope we can strike a peaceful balance between those who want to own and use them and those who think they should be outlawed. Maybe we need to remember that Jesus said that eye for an eye thing doesn’t work so replace it with “love one another”… just saying you know…