No one could call me a liberal – now or ever. From 1992 to 1993 my ex-wife and I waged a successful lobbying campaign while I was stationed in Germany to have the Armed Forces Network air Rush Limbaugh’s radio show. In 2008 I formed a local group called “Save Stafford” to combat illegal immigration and was featured in the Fredericksburg Freelance Star Sunday magazine. A year later, I joined the Stafford County Tea Party (John Adams Patriots) and co-led it for six years. I even became a paying member of the so-called “extremist” (as defined by the radical left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center) “Oath Keepers” and was vice president of the Fredericksburg Chapter.
Unlike tens of millions of armchair right-wingers who sit on their butts while yelling at their TVs, I have walked the walk for all my adult life. And yet, if I differ a tad from a conventional right-wing position, I am labeled a sellout – even a traitor by some. Such nonsense.
Take gun control. I joined the 22,000 patriots last Monday in Richmond and paid lobbying visits to both Mark Cole and Joshua Cole, the latter being a newly Democratic legislator. I am against most of what the Democrats are advocating – particularly universal background checks which pose an unreasonable burden to regular citizens who wish to sell or donate guns to friends and relatives. And unless anyone can convince me that these “checks” are somehow erased forever from the public records, they serve as a de facto instrument of gun registration. And gun registration today, leads to the gun confiscation of tomorrow. And it has happened all over the world – not only in banana republics and communist dictatorships, but in countries just like ours.
However, I do think there are some steps we can take that may save some lives. For example, I do not think people under 21 should be allowed to purchase a weapon of any sort. And stating such, I am met with a chorus of “But why, Mark? Why?” and accusations of my going liberal. Many who disagree with me claim that 18-year-olds can fight and die for their country, so why can’t they buy a gun for themselves? To them I say the following, and I say it as a career Army NCO and officer.
Those young men and women who join our military are thoroughly screened. They are disciplined during basic training and their advanced schooling. When issued weapons, they are subject to tight controls administered by capable NCOs. As a young officer at Fort Bragg, I ran several firing ranges, and my NCOS and I made sure that every round was accounted for. As soon as the range was over, the soldiers went back to their units to clean their weapons and have them stored in the Arms Room. End of story.
We also need to realize that the world has changed a lot in the past 50 years. Well over 40% of American children grow up in single parent homes, where there is often no father to teach gun safety and gun responsibility. More and more young boys are given drugs to fight depression and other mental ailments. I don’t think anyone in such a state should be allowed to purchase a weapon – particularly an 18- or 19-year-old adolescent.
While as a populist I firmly understand that the mega billionaires who truly run America are intent on playing divide and conquer and then disarming the populace so that they and their descendants can rule far into the future, I think we can dig in our heels where we need to while still acknowledging that there is room for those on the Right and the Left to agree on some truly common sense measures that may reduce the possibility of another tragedy occurring. We need to keep guns out of the hands of unvetted adolescents.