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On the Road in the North Country

August 25, 2014

We were traveling in the Adirondacks this weekend. The glorious countryside. The clean air. The open spaces. The scenic vistas. And the lawn signs that read:  “Repeal the Safe Act: Cuomo’s Gotta Go.”

Visitors from out of state were in the back seat, and we endeavored to explain the controversy.

We started out affirmatively, noting that spirited dialogue is a good thing. It’s people exercising their 1st Amendment rights and speaking to their presumed 2nd Amendment rights.

 But it went downhill from there. As we were explaining the requirement for military style weapons to be registered and the prohibition on high-capacity magazines, one of the passengers interrupted us.

“Why does anyone need such a weapon?”

We didn’t have a good answer for that. We told our visitors about Governor Cuomo’s famous quote. In arguing for the measure, he said, “Nobody needs ten bullets to kill a deer.”

We tried to explain that this controversy really isn’t about hunters and hunting. In fact, nothing in the bill affects them. Instead, the whole thing is about gun control itself, which many rural people oppose.

Again, the question: “But why would somebody need a military style weapon?”

We found ourselves quoting Fred Dicker, who maintains that people living in rural areas need such weapons and unlimited magazine capacities to protect themselves. He says that if ten people were breaking into your home and you only had a nine bullets in your magazine, you’d be in a lot of trouble because the police are so far away.

 “Is that a serious argument? Do people really think that way?”

“Well, yes. They are really worked up about it.”

We then pointed out some of the bumper stickers we saw on vehicles owned by North Country residents. One of the bumper stickers showed a military style weapon with the words: “Come and get it.”

There was a protracted silence in the car, until one of the visitors said: “It’s a contradiction.”

“What is?”

“That people living in rural areas project a strength and independence and at the same time are so afraid that they need to arm themselves so excessively.”


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