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My Turn: Changes to gun laws are an embarrassment for state

Last modified: 2/9/2015 4:43:50 PM
I’ll probably be excoriated by the pro-gun community for this, but our legislators have once again made us a national laughing stock by passing rules that permit them to carry concealed firearms in the halls of our legislative buildings. Hear me out before you reach for your six-shooter, Tex.

I’m a retired Air Force noncom who has been a target shooter for more than 50 years and have hunted large and small game both here and abroad. I’m a staunch advocate of responsible firearm ownership.

I was a card-carrying NRA member for more than 20 years until Wayne LaPierre turned it into a circus of bitter old men with axes to grind. I’ve owned numerous handguns, rifles and shotguns of every ilk, and I have held a permit to carry concealed for years. Yes, I carry a concealed handgun quite frequently, but I have no problem relinquishing my pistol when entering a facility that requires it. If I’m entering a post office, hospital or other facility that prohibits weapons, it gets locked in a safe in my vehicle or left at home.

Since my retirement from the military, I’ve never had an employer who permitted firearms on the job, and I respected that premise as a condition of employment. Now here we have a bunch of so-called pillars of our society who feel they can’t get the job done as legislators unless they’re armed to the teeth. What do they fear? We have yet to have any incidents in the House or Senate that would justify their “need.” What kind of message does this send to the school children who frequently visit the chambers?

My immediate thought on this matter goes to qualifications of the carriers. Have they had proper safety and marksmanship training? I know plenty of handgun owners who couldn’t hit the side of a barn from the inside. Are these legislators willing to invest the time and effort required to become safe and proficient with their sidearms? Can they at least meet the minimum marksmanship level required of police officers?

If not, then they shouldn’t be granted permission to carry, either concealed or exposed. When you strap on a gun, you automatically assume the moral responsibility to society that says you are competent and capable of making the right choices in an emergency.

Perhaps the politicians are afraid someone will take offense at some of the wacky antics we’ve seen in the Legislature of late, and perhaps justifiably so. Witness Bill O’Brien’s plan to create a legislative subculture to support his ego trip. Wherever he sets up shop for that venture, he may well want to install metal detectors and security staff at the entrance.

Another related issue is the movement to eliminate the need for concealed carry permits. These permits are intended to provide local law enforcement with a tool to winnow out the potential crazies who may not yet have reached the status of felon or other person of questionable character. New Hampshire’s small towns provide their police chiefs the luxury of knowing most, if not all, of their constituents, and being able to deny permits for cause. I sleep better knowing there’s at least one level of control in place. I know of several shady local individuals that should be denied permits to carry. Let’s keep that local control.

(Ron Godbout lives in Northfield.)


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