Gun gluttony

 

WASHINGTON "Seattle's nice," says photographer Regina Johnson, "but it isn't Paradise." Courtesy Regina Johnson.

UTAH AND WYOMING

Could Second Amendment defenders have gone too far, even in this gun-loving region? If two calmly reasoned editorials in Utah and Wyoming's major daily newspapers are right, you'd have to say, yep, looks like it. Editorializing last month, the Salt Lake Tribune took the Utah Sheriffs' Association to task for its "rant" accusing President Obama's administration of planning to seize people's guns, even as the group questioned the legitimacy of any federal limits on gun ownership. The paper remarked that the group's dire predictions were overblown, but that in any case, the Article VI, Clause 2, of the U.S. the Constitution, known as the Supremacy Clause, makes federal law supreme over state law, including state law officers. The paper concluded that "the threat of the Sheriffs' Association and one hot-headed legislator to arrest federal officers attempting to enforce any new restrictions on gun ownership -- after they have passed both houses of Congress -- is nothing but grandstanding." In Wyoming, a Star-Tribune editorial Feb. 3, titled "Gun gluttony stopped," congratulated the state's House of Representatives for shooting down a flurry of gun initiatives, one of which would have allowed guns to be brought into any government meeting. This was an unfortunate idea, the editors noted dryly, because "high emotions and well-armed citizens don't always mix well." Unless the citizens in question feel the need to storm the county commission, they added, why bring a gun to talk with elected officials? Only if your purpose is intimidation, the editors said. No government should "bend to the whims of whoever is most heavily armed."

IDAHO

Meanwhile, in Idaho, guns of all kinds have been allowed at the Capitol since 2008, when the state Legislature gained exclusive power to regulate guns in Idaho. However, a video taken Jan. 10 shocked lawmakers when it revealed a man with a handgun following Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts around as they toured the Legislature. The man was seen rifling through trashcans, photographing representatives' desks and going through any papers lying on top, reports the Idaho Statesman. When an unarmed guard confronted him, he said, "If I'm not being arrested or detained, I don't have to answer your questions." He was later identified as Bryan Carter of Meridian. "It broke my heart that I caused the Legislators a concern," Carter told the paper. Since Legislators saw the video, they've been talking about how to beef up security. At this point, certain things are banned at the Legislature including the following threats: men wearing hats, food, drinks, signs, sitting on rails, cell phones and distracting noises. "Bags are subject to search, but there is no firearm ban."

Tips and photos of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared in this column. Write betsym@hcn.org.