Kirby: Utah gun lobby being commandeered by crazies

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When it comes to political causes, everyone is passionate about their own. Passion is in fact the fuel that drives most political causes. Unfortunately, passion is also the first enemy of civility and logic.

Evidence of this is in how various groups promote their respective causes "on the hill." A good example would be supporters of SB55, a bill calling for health insurance coverage for autism.

To illustrate their point, families brought their autistic children to the Capitol Friday. In the middle of the rotunda was a pit containing 18,532 colored plastic balls — one for every autistic child in Utah.

As visual aids go it was very effective. Even a dullard like me with no real first-hand autism experience could relate. I saw the pit and thought, "Wow, that's a lot of kids. Is there something to this SB55?"

Here's another question: How far do you think SB55 would get if the parents of autistic children threatened to shoot federal employees if they didn't get what they wanted?

At the same time the autism lobby was calling for government support, a gun rights group was outside on the front steps of the Capitol advocating support for the Second Amendment.

For the record, I am not anti-gun. I own guns. I own guns in a number generally associated with "a lot." Also, I'm not a huge fan of big government. But I'm even less of a fan of extremism.

Unlike the autism support crowd inside, there were a number of problems with the visual aids of the "gunners" outside. In a word, them.

Among the more reasonable appearing gun ownership types were the unwitting poster children for the gun control lobby.

About a third of the crowd showed up in urban camouflage, conspicuously toting weapons of various calibers and rates of fire, and waving flags and signs daring the federal government to do something about it.

Even a dullard like me with lots of first-hand firearms experience could relate. I watched the crowd and thought, "Wow, that's a lot of scary gun owners. Maybe there's something to this gun control thing."

Among the symbols of pro-gun defiance was a flag featuring an assault rifle and the words, "Come And Get It."

Really? If it came to an actual fight over your guns, do you honestly think it would be a fair one? The government could deprive you of your guns by simply flying a bomb through your bedroom window some night.

Also, if you're the kind of person who thinks responsible gun ownership is to go around daring someone to engage you in a fire fight, I think it ought to be against the law for you to own a Pez dispenser never mind an assault rifle.

But my favorite visual aid was a Confederate battle flag on which was superimposed an assault rifle. Perhaps it was intended to be an affirmation of states' rights. If so, it wasn't a very good one.

It takes a pretty clueless gun owner to think he's going to change anyone's opinion by waving a symbol of historical racism in support of the Second Amendment. The last time that flag was used to support a states' rights cause the federal government burned the South flat.

This isn't a problem with the crazies themselves, but rather the more reasonable Second Amendment advocates who allow their cause to be commandeered by nut jobs.

In that case the biggest detriment to responsible gun ownership isn't going to be the people who don't like guns. It's going to be the ones who obviously like them way too much.

Robert Kirby can be reached at or