It was purely a gut reaction on my part, a spontaneous decision one day 10 years ago.
In my car on Old Evans Road, I heard on the radio that U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood's predecessor, then-state Rep. Don Johnson, D-Ga., pulled a John Kerry, flip-flopping on the federal Assault Weapons Ban and casting what turned out to be the decisive vote in its passage.
Whipping across Washington Road, I drove into the Martinez gun shop (where the wicker-furniture dealer now sits) and purchased one of the soon-to-be-banned guns: A reconditioned, Chinese-made SKS rifle.
I didn't need another gun. I don't hunt, and would prefer to shoot prowlers with a shotgun -- it's easier to aim in the dark, and isn't as likely to send a bullet through the wall and into an unintended target. (Though the only prowler I've thus far scared away is a stained-glass suncatcher that fell in the kitchen sink in the middle of the night, making us think someone had broken a window.)
But the idea that a politician would lie and switch his vote, and that other politicians would so blatantly support a law that is nothing but a triumph of style over substance, just made me plain mad.
My wife thought I'd lost my marbles (not for the first time) when I brought home my new firearm. And in the 10 years since I purchased it, my personal protest piece hasn't even been loaded, much less fired.
Now I may even sell it since the bill that made its sale illegal has expired, and the 10-year-long protest has run its course.
The federal Assault Weapons Ban, which expired this week, was just plain stupid. Anti-gun lawmakers, banking on their constituents' complete ignorance, made a big show of banning certain guns based on nothing more than their ferocious appearance.
Never mind that some of these weapons are about as useful, to steal an old phrase, as a bicycle to a fish. The main point is that these guns are no more lethal -- and some times far less so -- than a garden-variety deer rifle. And just like that deer rifle, they fire one shot for each pull of the trigger -- they don't "spray" bullets, as some anti-gunners often disingenuously claim.
The hand-wringers and nutjobs are obviously a-twitter about Congress' failure to re-enact this selective gun ban, but I applaud the lawmakers for letting this silly piece of useless legislation die - without a shot being fired.
Where were parents?
Fortunately for us locals, no shots apparently were fired with any of the guns stolen by three 15-year-old punks who committed a recent crime spree in Evans.
These kids, all from well-to-do neighborhoods, stole items -- including several guns -- from unlocked cars in Bridlewood, Jones Creek, The Locks and Barrington. Columbia County deputies did good-old-fashioned police work in tracking down the little thieves, and all three have since been hauled off to juvenile jail.
Whatever too-light punishment is coming, I'd suggest their parents add to it by whipping these boys' butts when this is all over with. But since the three 15-year-olds had been allowed to wander the streets unsupervised during all hours of the night to commit these crimes, I'm pretty sure a belt has never met their hindquarters.
It's not too late to start.
Guitar gone AWOL
A final note: Just over a year ago, thieves stole a guitar from my vehicle. Deputies arrested the 17-year-old punk who did it, and recovered the instrument.
Then, a man whose name I can only partially remember, offered to repair the guitar for me. He fixed it, all right - I haven't seen him since, and can't find his phone number. If he's still out there, I'd sure appreciate its return.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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