Armed with opinions in a dangerous world
July 24, 2014
It was Sunday evening and I was about to venture out on the mean streets of Glenwood Springs without a weapon. I closely scanned the crowd on the Grand Avenue for bad guys who may be packing. My heart was beating hard as I carefully made my way to my home.
Stop. I might upset readers if I write about the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms. It may not be the place for me to express my First Amendment right of free speech. Readers may get upset with the newspaper and me if I wrote my opinion on the opinion page.
Perhaps I'm becoming old and cynical, although it wasn't that long ago that newspapers expressed their views on the editorial page with a conviction for what they believed was the right direction for their community. And they provided the opportunity for others to express opposite points of view.
My belief and hope is that we can continue to provide the space for intelligent and courteous discourse.
Politics, especially on the state and national level, has bothered me because of the lack of courtesy. When Ronald Reagan was president, he didn't allow his very conservative views to keep him from compromising with liberal Democrats in Congress.
In today's world our national elected officials have some of the worst approval ratings in history. Why? Nothing gets done, as decisions are made based on getting elected. OK, I admit, I am generalizing and not every politician operates in that way.
At the risk of being threatened, let me go on about guns. Yes, over the years I have been threatened. Readers have told me they would stop reading or they were going to tell our advertisers to stop spending money with us. Worse, I've had people threaten my life and well-being. Why? Just because I believe in the First Amendment and the freedom of speech it provides. They disagreed with words on an opinion page or a political cartoon with such gusto.
Getting back to guns. I used to enjoy target shooting as a kid. Recently I actually hit a couple of targets when shooting trap at the Swift Communications annual meeting. It was fun. While I believe in the right to own guns, I would not feel safe if everyone in our community carried a concealed weapon. Even if they were trained and legally qualified, training the city recreation department will offer in September — training that's even available at restaurants now, are we really that endangered?
I've been to the now-famous Shooters Grill in Rifle a few times. The burgers are great. Having servers with weapons is novel. While enjoying my burger, I had a thought cross my mind. What if a patron overpowered a waitress and took her gun and started shooting? I'm sure the others would nail the perpetrator pretty quickly. But would another life be lost before that person was taken out?
— Michael Bennett is publisher of the Post Independent.