Kudos to Jonathan Thompson, who will surely get plenty of negative responses to his editor's note in Volume 40, Number 19, from numerous fundamentalists whose understanding of the First Amendment is nearly nonexistent (HCN, 10/27/08). I'm happy to have a Constitution that, at least on paper, allows everyone to worship whatever deity or higher power they choose, and at the same time protects me from the frequently malevolent intellectual suffocation of fundamentalists (including the kindly and "well-meaning") of every religious stripe. That those protections do not always operate as I'd like them to in the real world, as Ray Ring's article suggests, is merely a reminder that religious oppression has been around at least as long as political oppression, and has been no more humane in its treatment of dissenters than political regimes we've been taught to despise.
As for Democrats abandoning gun control, I'm not in a position to predict, though I admit I'd be surprised if they did, and I'm not sure we "all" need them to do so. I have several firearms, both long arms and pistols, that I've owned for many years. I've considered joining the NRA, but have always decided against it because of the organization's stands on other issues, as well as its refusal to acknowledge the very obvious and very real dangers of a gun-happy society. Hal Herring at least points out some of the contradictions of "pro-gun" zealots whose version of the Constitution includes trampling on the numerous rights of others to secure a specific one of their own.
I do question one of Mr. Herring's statements in defense of gun ownership as a hedge, if you will, against tyranny. He suggests, if I'm reading him properly, that we have less to fear from an armed populace than from anything the future might hold. Even if I grant Herring the benefit of the doubt regarding America's future, an examination of murder statistics in the U.S., and the weapons used to commit them, suggests to me that we have quite a bit to fear from our current armed populace, else my local police would not need Kevlar vests as part of their standard equipment.