2A OpEd: Blaming the Bench

This article was contributed by LP Georgia member Johnathon Harris

Why are we so interested in talking to the wrong crowd about things that bother us? I am a former coach, and I usually looked to other coaches in my field in order to see what useful habits or skills they displayed and expressed to their players. Those examples were both positive and negative.

One of the coaches that I encountered was a great example not only of how not to act in a game, but also of how not to interact with others in a broader sense. This coach felt it was necessary to yell at the bench, directing his disdain towards the players on the field towards those who were not currently in the game. The players on the sidelines had nothing to do with the issues unfolding on the field and might readily agree that what the player on the field did was wrong. That didn’t seem to stop this coach from continuing to argue and yell at people who had nothing to do with the issues with which he took exception.

This sort of thing happens all the time in Washington, as well as within the legislatures and councils of our great states and cities. When Beto O’Rourke and other politicians go after guns and responsible gun owners who is he talking to? (O’Rourke is quoted famously for saying during his presidential campaign, “Hell yes we are coming for your A.R. 15!”) He’s talking to the bench! He isn’t speaking to criminals who commit gun violence—new laws will not stop them. He is addressing law-abiding citizens who are equally outraged by violence, but had nothing to do with what’s unfolding on the field. Random shootings are terribly tragic and horrendous. His outrage is justified but he doesn’t rail against criminals. Instead, he yells at the law-abiding gun owners on the bench and in the dugout, who share his anger and frustration about senseless crime.

Like that terrible coach, politicians direct their ire and arguments to the people who already agree with them. Guns should not be in the hands of those who seek to do harm. Not just guns, but knives, cars, hammers, and other items have and will be used in senseless killings. But we wouldn’t regulate lawful, peaceful use of cars and knives in the way that Congress wants to regulate firearms, because most people who own them never use them to harm anyone. O’Rourke’s applause line depends upon everyone around him agreeing that a criminal’s violent use of guns is criminal violence—which we all do. And the only ones listening are those on the bench.

Politicians on the left and the right should go after criminals who create violence, not the general public who own guns but have nothing to do with the situations at hand. Can we be as passionate and focused in going after criminals as Beto O’Rourke is going after law-abiding gun owners? We also want mass shootings and senseless violence to end but the only ones listening to politician’s threats are those who already agree. The “good guy with the gun” isn’t just an expression; we’re the last line of defense, and we’re taking the coach’s anger anyway.


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