BY EDWIN E. VINEYARD
As an observer of the Oklahoma Legislature for more than 40 years, this writer cannot claim to penetrate the darkness of the legislative psyche sufficiently to understand the thinking [or lack thereof] of some current members. So frequently now, questions haunt us, such as: “What are/were they thinking? What fugitive from a psych ward thought of that? Are these people really as crazy as they act? What kind of dope are they smoking these days? Don’t these people have any sense at all? Who let the idiots out of their villages?”
Well, you get the drift.
In the past not all legislators who appeared a little off the deep end were as strange as they seemed. This writer well recalls a state senator friend from down in Okmulgee County who regularly proposed legislation to castrate convicted rapists. Of course, this would not seem strange when mixed with some of the crazy bills we have floating there every year now. Other than the one peculiar stance, that senator was a good supporter of everything progressive in Oklahoma – including colleges and public schools. And he was a graduate of my college.
But those who are sponsoring the crazy bills now do not appear to have such redeeming qualities. At least, none show.
The craziest of the loony bills in this legislative session are those proposed by the gun nuts. Can you really imagine college campuses with anyone and everyone carrying concealed weapons, i.e. everyone who takes the little gun-handling short course and gets certified? It is difficult to imagine streets and stores like that, much less colleges and vo-tech schools.
But, lo, there are also legislators who are sponsoring legislation to let anyone carry guns in the open just about anywhere they go. That is, we can all strap on our six-shooters [excuse me, 31 bullet automatics], and go to college classes, the grocery store, and maybe even the saloon. Evidently college administrators, faculty, store managers, and bartenders will then be carrying their guns in order to protect themselves, the students, the customers, and to keep order.
Folks, even Wyatt Earp had a better system than this in old Dodge City, checking in the cowboys’ guns when they came to town. And, in Tombstone, the Earps and Doc Holliday met Ike Clanton and his boys down at the OK corral for their deadly gunplay – away from innocent people. Who cares about innocent cows? PETA does, so that would not be allowed today. But innocent people are OK.
We have had a rash of really ugly immigration bills, all aimed at chasing the undocumented Mexicans out of the state – and making legals uncomfortable.
But those bills that threatened the interests of Chamber of Commerce member employers of undocumented residents soon got sidetracked or amended. Now we have some legislators going after the Mexican kids, trying to take away their rights to citizenship by birth although that happens to be a provision of the U. S. Constitution. They’re called “anchor babies.” It is hard to deport the parents and not the child, but some are working at it.
Denying rights to Mexican children of undocumented workers is another regular target. Deny them medical attention, deny them schooling, and deny the graduates of state high schools their in-state college tuition rates.
It is not hard to reason why all these harsh immigration bills are introduced. They are pushed by the same people every year – the ones whose faces we see on television so frequently appealing to their Tea Party-type voter base. They love the TV camera and the publicity they get from these efforts.
We fear that similar motives drive those who each year come up with some new legislative twist to have government interfere with a woman’s right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Strangely enough these same politicians who push such legislation intruding into the personal and family lives of women are the ones who loudly cry out against big government regulating health insurance companies or big banks in an effort to protect citizen consumers. Nevertheless, such foolishness appeals to their religious right wing voters.
Clearly some legislators have motives of their own, primarily political in nature, for doing the dirty work of some overly zealous, misinformed, bigoted voters out there. Too bad! But it is still very hard to understand where the “gun nuts” are coming from. Maybe the NRA is promoting all this, and we don’t even know it. We don’t receive their black-hearted propaganda, of course.
To a former college administrator who allowed no guns on campus, in dormitories or anywhere else, these gun bills seem completely, utterly, and incomprehensibly stupid.
This writer has had the actual experience of confronting an angry man on campus, carrying his gun and looking for vengeance. I do not buy the notion that if I had been armed that day I would have been safer. The peaceful resolution of the problem could easily have been quite different with two guns present.
I would not want my campus vice-president son carrying a gun, or his faculty doing so, in order to meet the challenges of disorderly gun-toters on campus. They are not policemen. But neither would I want my son or other professionals trying to do their jobs peacefully amidst an armed student body – or in a town where everybody is free to carry a gun.
I cannot understand legislators who would promote such conditions, nor parents who would tolerate such a circumstance.
If it comes to all this, what kind of state is this going to be?
– Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate, lives in Enid, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer