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Column: Lawmaker’s love of firearms clouds judgment


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Rep. Jim Lucas likes guns.

The Seymour Republican likes guns so much that every time someone suggests that maybe there’s too much gun violence in this country or that the National Rifle Association, of which he is a devout member, might be a touch unreasonable, he fires off impassioned notes proclaiming the ownership of firearms to be part of a “Natural Right.” (Lucas likes capital letters, too — not as much as he likes guns, but he likes them nonetheless.)

Lucas says he wants to have a rational discussion about guns, but then he also says that people who want stronger or even just different gun laws are the real problem, not school shootings! (Lucas likes exclamation points, too — but, again, not as much as he likes guns.)

Lucas likes guns so much that he says people who disagree with him about gun laws are “evil.”

(Note to Lucas: Mother Teresa had problems with gun violence, too. Most people don’t think of her as evil.)

Lucas likes guns so much that he wants to make it easier for people to take them everywhere, including schools. He has authored and pushed for a bill that would allow people to take them onto school grounds so long as they remain locked in the owners’ cars in the parking lot.

At present, people just aren’t supposed to bring guns to school.

Period.

Part of the point of Lucas’ measure is to spare gun owners the bother and inconvenience of remembering that they have a deadly firearm with them when they drive to a school. If they forget now, they can violate the law.

Lucas likes guns so much that he thinks it’s wiser to change the law than ask gun owners to obey it.

Because Lucas likes guns so much, he can’t imagine that some of us might like legal sanctions for gun owners who are so absentminded that they forget they’re carrying dangerous weapons around when they bring them close to our kids.

If anyone were to suggest that, Lucas would start talking about “Natural Right” and the real problem of people who want sensible gun laws (!) and “evil” again.

That’s because Lucas really likes guns.

Because Lucas really likes guns, he can’t see that a gun sometimes might be a problem. Like so many of his fellow NRA members, he believes sometimes that a gun is just a tool — and therefore can’t be blamed — when it suits his purposes. Other times he and they argue that a gun is a kind of sacrament — and therefore above such trivial considerations as blame and responsibility — when doing so suits their purposes.

The devotion of people who really like guns, such as Lucas, spares them the bother of asking troubling questions.

In Lucas’ world, one never needs to ask why it’s wrong to regulate a tool such as a gun when we regulate who gets to own and operate many other tools — cars, explosives, even pseudoephedrine — because their use might be dangerous in the wrong hands.

Nor does Lucas ever ask why most reputable studies show a person is 40 times more likely to shoot himself or herself, a family member or a friend than an intruder. Lucas would prefer to focus on the one and ignore the other 40.

That’s because Lucas really likes guns.

Nor does Lucas want to think much about the fact that the United States leads the world’s industrialized nations in gun-related deaths or violent deaths. Or that this country sees more casualties annually from gunfire than many war zones.

Or that more Americans die each year within this nation’s borders from gunshots than the United States lost in 10 years of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

Pondering such facts would be a violation of “Natural Right,” wouldn’t be addressing the real problem of people who want saner gun laws (!) or would be just evil.

In a different world, we might talk about guns as things that sometimes can be used for good purposes and sometimes can be used for bad purposes. In that different world, we’d talk about whether the good outweighs the bad — or, here’s a novel notion, whether there are changes we could make in law to preserve the good things while limiting the bad ones.

But, in Lucas’ world, that’s precisely the conversation we never should have.

That’s because Lucas really likes guns.

John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 Indianapolis and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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