“In March, 2014, a self-proclaimed ‘lifelong hunter’ showed up at an Ashland, Ore. City council meeting to voice his support for a proposed anti-gun ordinance,” captioning in a video for the March 18 regular meeting proceedings compiled and posted Thursday by activist David West, and embedded in this column explains. “Said ordinance would ban law-abiding citizens without a valid Oregon concealed handgun license from openly carrying loaded firearms.”
“I served as an army artillery officer during my youth and I’ve been a lifelong hunter, and outdoorsman,” a slim, elderly and seemingly breathless, man, bald, bespectacled, with a trimmed white beard and mustache and wearing camouflage hunting garments claimed. “Basically I’ve been around guns all my life.”
Who better for the general public to listen to when it comes to presumably authoritative statements about responsible and proper gun ownership and use? And who better for anti-gunners to put forth as representative of what is “reasonable” and “common sense”? As with Mark Kelly, this man speaks from both the vantage point of a trained military professional and a civilian gun enthusiast.
That he might have an agenda, and that he might be exploiting and embellishing his credentials to assume more gravitas and influence than gun owners who do not share them is one of the most useful “divide and conquer” ploys in the gungrabber playbook. It provides convenient proof that not all gun owners are against gun bans and disarmament edicts, and does so in a way that forces those who disagree to challenge the powerful image of a veteran and an authority.
After all, who are you going to believe? Someone presented as a seasoned, reasonable, mature and even heroic citizen who knows what he’s talking about, or disgruntled zealots bitterly clinging to their guns no matter how many children die and how unsafe they make us feel?
If we listen to this gun owner, we’ll believe “Every year, every day, responsible citizens, who have a legitimate right to own guns and do own guns, are responsible for maiming, killing, accidents, mishaps happen a lot...”
Or as Kristen Rand of the virulently anti-gun Violence Policy Center puts it as justification for prior restraints over what we might do, "Just because you're a law-abiding citizen today doesn't mean you're going to be one tomorrow."
“Why is this?” our "lifelong hunter" asks. “Well what is a responsible gun owner? A responsible gun owner is a gun owner who observes the cardinal rules of gun safety at all times. What are the cardinal rules of gun safety?”
“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers,” novelist Thomas Pynchon observed in “Gravity’s Rainbow,” and our self-appointed spokesman for safe and responsible gun owners presumes to be the unquestioned arbiter of both.
“One: When carrying a gun, there is no round in the chamber, the safety is ‘off,’ the gun is securely holstered in some way attached to the person’s body,” he advises. “When transporting the gun, the gun is unloaded, the safety ‘on’ and placed in a secured container.
“Finally, when carrying a gun, one must at all times experience an underlying uneasiness,” he concludes. “You must be uncomfortable at a certain level. There you go.”
Aside from blaming responsible gun owners for the acts and abuses of irresponsible and/or evil gun possessors (and there is a huge difference doctrinaire antis never seem to want to acknowledge), contradicting himself and giving one-size-fits-all advice on safeties (“on” vs. “off,” and which may or may not exists on different types and models of firearms), and generally making pronouncements that are taught nowhere by any certified training courses or recognized instructors, in our unnamed veteran gun owner’s world, guns for self-defense are not even subjects open for discussion. The Second Amendment evidently is about hunting after all.
Either that or this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and he has an agenda. As with Capt. Kelly and others, his continued pretentious blathering removes from us the major impediment to taking him on -- it’s now no longer a matter of having criticisms of his advocacy dismissed as ad hominem. The truths of what he argues, and his qualifications as spokesman to promote them, are now fair game.
So who is this guy?
The City of Ashland, like so many, posts council agendas and minutes online, and those for the March 18 meeting provide a thread to pull and follow. For starters, it presents a section for “Public Hearing and Council direction to staff regarding an ordinance prohibiting the unlawful carrying of loaded firearms in public places,” and under that it lists a match:
Donald Morris/1644 Ross Lane/Served as an army artillery officer and was a lifelong hunter. Mishaps occurred with legal gun owners daily. A responsible gun owner observed gun safety at all times and went on to cite gun safety guidelines.
We now have a name. We also see an agenda for the meeting, itself providing useful documents for self-education about just what’s being planned for and to us, including the proposed ordinance being plotted and a more detailed background for what Mr. Morris needed to distill into a few moments of allotted speaking time, including:
- The proposed ordinance draft
- Council communications and directions to staff regarding the proposed ordinance
- Supporting documents, including Mr. Morris’ submitted “testimony,” not only further fleshing out what he chose to call the public’s attention to, but also exhibiting a decidedly anti-gun slant, including an article from the far left The Daily Kos titled “It’s fun to accidentally discharge your handgun at the Y-M-C-A! Gun fail LIX,” evidently part of a series which sets its tone and purpose right up front.
“Since we last visited, and up though last Friday, 15 hearty patriots have accidentally second amended themselves,” that piece begins, intentionally misrepresenting both the commonly understood meaning of the term “patriot” as well as the intent behind what the Founders deemed “necessary to the security of a free State.”
"And continuing the pattern, several did so while happily and unconcernedly carrying their hand-held instant death machines among...” the document carries on.
The antis are using this to make law? Typically, the examples gathered from news account around the country include many which are hardly representative of lawful and legitimate gun owners, and make no mention of defensive gun uses to show peaceable armed citizens defending life and property, often without the need to even fire a shot.
We further see that this bit of official input for council consideration was “also republished by Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA) and Shut Down the NRA.”
There is also further elaboration of the position of one "Rochelle Newman, 819 Pavilion Place," who, per the public hearing summary list posted on the council website offered the opinion:
Did not advocate open carry guns or concealed guns and abhorred the concept of stand and defend. Only law enforcement agents, hunters, and target shooters needed to have guns. A gun’s only function was maiming or killing. The NRA would have everyone believe that carrying a gun was tantamount to being a free person. She believed carrying a weapon provided a false sense of security and an illusion of power.
What her qualifications for believing that are remain unknown, but objective truth was never the long suit of Demanding MILMs anyway, and the opinionated Ms. Newman is merely an illustrative detour, just to show the quality of allies recruited by the other side. We were testing the validity of concepts along with the motives of a veteran and “lifelong hunter" here, as he is the one giving a face to “responsible gun owners” that those who would disarm us are counting on exploiting with a public that doesn’t know any better.
So much for the objectivity Mr. Morris brings to the discussion, and the true goals of those he aligns himself with. Shall we now examine his qualifications, his expertise, and his compliance with existing laws designed to enforce “responsible” gun use? After all, we are obviously supposed to believe that his voice is an informed and experienced one that reasonable people should heed.
“A 70-year-old Ashland man was cited on a charge of firing a pellet gun inside the city after he shot at a deer eating his plants and later found the deer dead,” Mail Tribune reported in March, 2011.
“Donald Morris called Ashland police about 8 a.m. Friday to report a dead deer on his property in the 1600 block of Ross Lane in Ashland,” the story continues. “He told police that he shot at the animal with his pellet gun earlier and it took off running, but he had just found it dead.”
In fairness, there is only circumstantial evidence tying this person in with the one testifying at the council meeting. There could very well be two or more people named Donald Morris in that age range living “in the 1600 block of Ross Lane in Ashland.”
Assuming there aren’t, that was not only a violation of Ashland Code on “Discharging Weapons.” A quick look at the layout of the neighborhood shows the weapon was discharged in close proximity of other inhabited houses, and per the news account, “OSP also issued Morris a warning for taking the deer unlawfully.” Add to that going after a deer with a pellet gun, first as a method of preferred yard protection, and also as the way a "lifelong hunter" would ensure an expert, quick and humane kill.
Under these circumstances, questioning Mr. Morris’ experience and judgment, particularly for being an accepted authority on responsible and lawful practices, becomes more than fair. It's also fair to wonder why a pellet gun was the weapon he chose, if he owns any others, and how many years he's gotten hunting tags, and for what.
The Council Communications document cited above notes gun ordinances being considered were initiated by a group called Citizens for a Safe Ashland. Any review of their proposals should consider sentiments expressed by supporters in determining if their true objective is safety, and if those backing the demand are the ones qualified to make that call. On reflection, they hardly seem surprising allies for Mr. Morris and Ms. Newman.
As for the fate of the bill in Ashland, or for similar bills in communities throughout the Republic, it is imperative to understand that, as an ordinance this column has been following in Burlington, Vt. has demonstrated, gun owners ignore what is happening in their own home towns at their peril. At the very least, the activities of city governments must be monitored, and that means activists must know how to obtain agendas before meetings, how to retrieve minutes afterward, and how to attend and speak at meetings when public awareness and participation is necessary.
In short, that is our job. That’s because the fight goes to our very doors. And make no mistake, it is personal, because guess who will go to jail for running afoul of local edicts? The antis don’t care that you have other things to do with your time, and other things to expend your attention, energies and resources toward.
As a matter of fact, they’re counting on that.
Besides, this guy in Ashland is a hunter, a veteran, a patriot, a neighbor, and one of you. If he's against it, you know it must be extreme!
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