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newswolf56 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-10-05 03:22 AM
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60. To See Another Democrat Write So...
...eloquently and persuasively in favor of our party taking a more rational stance toward American firearms owners is the best homecoming I could possibly have been given -- "homecoming" because (though a Democrat for most of my life) I nevertheless spent a long period alienated from the party. I was banished from a local Democratic organization by its dominant members' vindictive hostility to firearms owners (an ugly reality about which I obviously need say little more). There were further embitterments too -- matters of Democratic social policy that, in their effect on me personally, merely intensified the vicious agenda of the Reaganoids -- but this is not the thread upon which to speak of them. Nevertheless, my genuine horror at Bush Administration domestic policy has finally brought me back into the Democratic fold and therefore eventually onto this site, though my fear of finding again the same anti-gun hatefulness I encountered in Bellingham, Washington c. 1986 kept me away from DU until just last week. Your post (and its subsequent elaborations) are therefore tantamount to a genuine embrace.

I have been an NRA member since 1951, shot competitively in high school ROTC in the 1950s and was a hunter in my younger years. But I finally reached a point at which my distinctly Pagan Gaia-consciousness will no longer allow me to hunt unless my own survival depends upon it, though I remain very much a "gun guy" -- one who appreciates firearms both for practical reasons and aesthetically as hand-held sculpture, one who enjoys not only the contest-with-self that is marksmanship but also the applied physics of handloading, ballistics and the intricacies of bedding. My favorite caliber is of course the .30-'06 -- the issue cartridge of my Regular Army military-service years -- with the hoary old .45-70 running a very close second. I am fortunate that, even with 65-year-old eyesight, I can still very much hold my own with iron sights and a good rifle out to 500 yards and even beyond. Which is not to boast -- but rather to convey the depth of my appreciation for all that you have said.

Moreover I too am nothing like the mythical "right-wing gun-nut" so beloved of some of our caricaturists. I belong to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, was twice a Democratic PC during the 1970s, and was sufficiently devoted to the Southern Civil Rights Movement to not only have gone to jail for it in 1963 but -- as a consequence -- to have brought on myself a "radical" stigma that severely and permanently damaged my journalism career: something I would nevertheless do again. I have been a firearms owner all my life -- and on more than one occasion, the presence of a gun has kept me from harm and in fact probably saved my life. Indeed it is one of my personal axioms that Real Leftists Own Guns.

As to claims about the Democratic legacy on firearms, others have covered them more than adequately with their citations of Jefferson. I will add only that the late Sen. Warren Magnuson was as staunch a defender of the Second Amendment as he was of welfare rights and the environment, also that I am old enough to know Eleanor Roosevelt was herself a crack pistol shot. She practiced regularly on the range that was then in the White House basement and often went armed as she toured the United States -- especially in regions where genuinely liberated women were deeply resented. It was at least partly for this reason I was so appalled by the presumptuousness and dishonesty of anti-gun Hillary Clinton's effort to equate herself with Mrs. Roosevelt -- Mrs. Roosevelt whose husband was quite possibly America's greatest president ever, Mrs. Roosevelt who was unquestionably our greatest and most forward-looking First Lady.

Which brings me to the party's present-day firearms schism: I believe this has more to do with class division -- especially the hostility toward the blue-collar class that is the ugly lingering legacy of the Vietnam years -- than any other single factor. Yes, the Communitarian scheme for total disarmament played a significant role, as did the radical-feminist view that the firearm is a surrogate for the (hated) penis. But neither of these authoritarian hoplophobic ideologies -- nor for that matter the generalized big-city (disarmed) urbanite's fear of the (armed) country-dweller -- would have taken hold had not the petri-dish of class hostility provided it the medium in which to grow. Indeed, in this context, the anti-gun sentiment is not the cause of our divorcement from, say, the United Mine Workers membership of East Tennessee and West Virginia, but rather instead its chief symptom. Therefore I believe if we heal the class-schism, all the rest will fall into place of its own accord. Or so I suspect: what I have posited here is but a hypothesis -- one toward which I have a definitively open mind.

In any case, benEzra, many many thanks.
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