By G. Michael Dobbs
As I walked out of the auditorium at American International College where a Senate and House committee heard testimony about proposed gun legislation, I was asked by two men holding a banner urging people to preserve the Second Amendment to sign a petition.
I’m one of those people who will always sign a petition to get someone on the ballot whether I agree with their candidacy or not. I also always sign petitions to put questions on the ballot.
The petition was simply an affirmation of a number of statements about guns including several that went beyond my comfort zone. I politely declined.
As I was walking away one of the men said to me, “We’ll see you in the FEMA camps.”
In case you’ve not heard, there are people who believe the federal government under President George W. Bush and now under President Barack Obama are planning prison camps to hold American citizens who are in opposition of federal policies.
According to one website discussing the issue, in Massachusetts the prison camp would be at Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod.
I’m all for listening to conspiracy theories, but what struck me was the difference between the tone and subject of what was going on outside the Karen Sprague Cultural Arts Center and what was going on inside.
Inside there were repeated statements from the legislators gathered for the hearing that they have no intention or interest in supporting any bill that would affect legal gun ownership in the Commonwealth or harm the business climate for companies such as Smith & Wesson.
I stayed for about two hours and the people I heard speak were measured and temperate in both their language and presentation. As a Massachusetts citizen, I certainly approved this approach.
I believe that if someone wants to own a gun legally, they should have the right to do so. I would also like to believe that legal gun owners would want the state and law enforcement to take effective measures in curbing gun violence, much of it involving stolen or illegally acquired weapons.
The House chair of the committee, state Rep. Harold Naughton, explained to me prior to the hearing the goal of the meeting was to hear testimony that could be applied to specific bills pending in the House and Senate on gun violence after the shootings in Newtown, Conn.
Believe it or not, there are 58 bills introduced in the Legislature and one from Gov. Deval Patrick. Patrick’s bill addresses a number of issues, but none of them are additional controls or regulations on legal gun owners.
If you follow the Legislature, you know that most of these bills will never leave their committee, so it will be interesting how many of these proposals will even see a vote in the two chambers.
It is well worth following and the question does remain the same: What can we do about changing the climate, as District Attorney Mark Mastroianni noted, in which a young man goes to a party with a handgun tucked in his pants – a handgun that was stolen from a home or was purchased in another state and was re-sold or traded until it reached here?
I’m open to suggestions. How about you?
The Walmart challenge
My wife and I stopped buying anything at Walmart about two years ago and have found there is indeed life beyond the world’s largest retailer. You’ll be amazed that you can actually live without it.
Folks in Holyoke are facing the proposition of having a Walmart Supercenter that just might push other firms out of business.
So here’s a question for you: if a sizable group of people in a community does not want a commercial development, should it be forced upon them? How much say do any of us actually have when it comes to business developments?
I’d like to hear what you think. Send me a letter.
Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at email@example.com or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.