Why are Iowa and New Hampshire litmus tests for the nomination? Neither of these states represents the diversity of America, nor shares many of the concerns of states with big urban centers.
People in New Hampshire are not only lining up at the polls, they are lining up to learn how too fire guns. More women are taking gun classes in New Hampshire than ever before. Of course, they are learning to shoot at targets and that's different than shooting at people in a high stress situation, but they are learning. A poster of President Obama is posted at many gun ranges, as he is the enemy of the Second Amendment. The people of New Hampshire who are taking up guns say the reasons are drug violence and terrorism.
No one in Paris could have defended themselves against the recent terrorist attack there with a gun. In over 33 years no civilian has stopped a terrorist attack with a gun, including the one in San Bernardino. Now, maybe we should all openly carry assault weapons at the mall. I don't know. Maybe people would be more polite to each other. But the facts are that states with conceal and carry and openly carry gun laws have more incidents of gun violence during road rage and other public incidents of rage, and more murders committed with guns than those that don't. When people have guns, they tend to use them.
Those facts, however, are ignored. Facts are our enemy.
If you have a gun in your home because you want to protect yourself, you need to have it loaded and close. That means next to your bed which means it's next to your brain. Sweet dreams? Maybe for some folks, especially in a rural community where the police can't get to you in a few minutes, or even in a city where often there aren't as many officers as needed. But you have to surprise a burglar with your gun. You have to wake up, get your gun in the dark, calm yourself, and "take out" the intruder. Even national news people are using the term "take out" now for the word kill, by the way. Gun lingo is cool.
States like New Hampshire and Iowa are rural, nature type states, and people hunt and many homes are isolated. The same can be said for Vermont and Maine. Nobody, even the arch enemy of gun lovers, President Obama, has suggested they not be allowed weapons in their homes. But federal gun control legislation is meant to make the nation safer, so should the states who don't have big cities and have less people be spoilers for the rest of us? And Newton, Connecticut and Charleston, South Carolina are not big cities. Why does anyone need an assault style weapon or a cache of magazines in their basement, the kind that make many bullets fly in seconds?
Although Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly campaigned for gun legislation on Hilary's behalf in Iowa, and they have endorsed her for president, in New Hampshire gun legislation is not high on any candidate's list. I think many democrats there will vote for Sen Sanders because he has been accused of being soft on guns and they like that. His recent votes reflect perhaps a different view than his past votes reveal. He was not on the side of what I think were important bills that could have stemmed the tide of guns back when that was possible. In the late 90's Sanders voted against mandatory background checks at gun shows, against the trigger lock amendment, and against The Brady Bill twice. He voted for the firearms manufacturer protections bill in 2005. He voted to allow loaded guns in national parks. Why aren't these votes haunting him, while Hilary's hedge-her-bet vote on Iraq is her albatross? Although he has voted for recent bills that regulate guns, and he voted for President Clinton's ban on assault weapons in 1994, where is our bill to ban assault weapons now?
Hilary Clinton, with far more passionate statements than Sanders regarding guns, has gone all but silent in her gun rhetoric in New Hampshire.
This is a fear driven electorate, and fear is not always our enemy. I keep in touch with my fear and I respect it, but I know where it's coming from. Mostly common sense. Do I stroll alone on a deserted urban beach at night? No. Would I do that on a Caribbean Island? No again. Because I fear I might get raped or mugged or murdered. And I wouldn't enjoy strolling with a loaded magnum at the ready. That ruins the ambiance for me. I used to hike up in the hills in California with my dogs, who might protect me, but I also carried pepper spray and I mostly hiked when the trails were populated with other hikers and their dogs. I don't walk down deserted city streets either. My mother told me that if I found myself walking where there was no sidewalk traffic to keep a lit cigarette in my hand. Burning a would be predator would at least give me the chance to run and scream. She never advocated that I actually smoke the cigarette.
What gun advocates don't understand, I think, is themselves. Statistics show that most people who get shot by a gun get shot by accident, and that people are more likely to use a gun against themselves or a spouse than an intruder. These are facts. When schoolmarm Jean Harris went to confront her lover, Scarsdale Diet author, Herman Tarnower, she took her pistol. She testified later that she did not intent to kill him, but rather confront him. In her state of rage, however, she murdered her lover and the mistress he was cheating on her with. If only she had confronted him unarmed she wouldn't have spent her life in prison. I believe she honestly thought she couldn't kill, and she believed that even while she was killing.
Guns, and only guns, can put a bullet in a brain. What they fire turns insults hurled during a passionate rage into something we can't take back. None of us believe we can pull the trigger, and those of us who haven't done it don't know how easy it is.
We have a right to bear arms and that's a fact. The Constitution says we can a form militia to defend against a tyrannical government, but the other fact is that civilian gun possession has local and federal governments out-armed by nearly 80%. Nothing in the constitution says we can bear cannons and stock cannonballs in our cellars, so why can we now stock automatic magazines for assault weapons? The Constitution doesn't specify what kind of weapons should be available to citizens.
But all this talk seems as old as Sanders and Clinton combined. It's history until the next mass killing and we will then hear more talk. Gun violence is not a key issue New Hampshire, a litmus test state. Maybe if deer could vote there'd be a discussion. The focus instead is on who is the real progressive. Trump called Cruz a pussy and Christy claimed he will kick Clinton in her "rear end". Can Christy really lift his leg that high? We are in the middle of primary season. Americans are strong in the area of fear, but weak in the area of facts and memory. In fact, the NRA lobby has been able to craft laws that cut spending on gun research, so facts will go out with our lead-laden bathwater. And who will remember the poisoning of Flint anyway, apart from the people who were poisoned?