COMMENTARY | Gun owners have to be the most skittishly aggressive type of human on the planet. In North Carolina, Robert Horne, now former editor of the Cherokee Scout, filed a request with the sheriff to get information regarding concealed carry of weapons permits and applications in the area.
The sheriff, according to Raw Story, denied the request, claiming that the information was not public. The city attorney disagreed. So the sheriff did what any responsible law man in that situation would do. He posted the request for information on Facebook.
And here’s where our Responsible Gun Owners come in. Though Horne wanted the permit information to look at the numbers, rather than publish identifiable information, the good Responsible Gun Owners of Cherokee County allegedly favored Horne with enough Responsible Death Threats to spur a decision to both leave his job and the state.
That’s right. He plans to move out of state.
For his part, publisher David Brown ran an apology letter to the people of the county, groveling, as the Atlantic Wire put it, for the forgiveness of the community after the editor’s gall of asking the questions that people didn’t want asked. You know, what newspapers were once supposed to do.
Aside from the crime of accidentally attempting to commit journalism and the rapid apology that followed for the indignity of such an error, this story holds an important nugget of ironic truth at its center.
People who own guns can kill you if they feel like it.
At once, that statement appears obvious and extreme, but it is nothing but the bare truth. When gun owners send you threats of death en masse, it is with the understanding, on both sides, that they have the means to carry out those threats.
We’re not talking about doll collectors here. Or people who like to knit enraged over the sanctity of their size 9 knitting needles. We are talking about people who own weapons specifically designed to induce death, and, in the case of concealed carry permits, weapons that are specifically designed to induce death and carried, out of sight, on their persons.
I’m not sure why no one ever wants to talk about the reality of gun ownership, but there it is. There is its heart, magnified by the drama of a small-town paper. People have guns so that, when they don’t like something or someone, they have the option to kill it.
The death threats aimed at Horne don’t even seem to have caused a ripple among the Responsible Gun Owners. Shouldn’t they be furious? Shouldn’t there be pointed fingers and denouncements of irresponsible gun owners?
And yet, all we hear are those crickets.
A journalist wanted to start a conversation about guns in his community, and he was silenced by threats. Instead of focusing on that story, the publisher of that paper told the people with laser scopes pointed in the paper’s general direction that he was sorry, oh so sorry, for the horrible transgression of reporting the news.
This is the reality of the “gun debate” in this country. “Say what we want, or we’ll kill you.” And the always implied, lingering in the air: “You know that we have the means.”