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Guns in parks: Why?

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When I go to the park, I take a water bottle, maybe a wagon for the younger kids, some snacks, perhaps light jackets in case there’s a chill in the air. On another planet, there are people who are beside themselves that they can’t bring their guns.

I’ll come right out and say it: I don’t get it. I don’t consider myself crazy anti-gun. I don’t own a gun, probably never will, but that’s not out of any anti-Second Amendment principle. It’s because I have no more interest in owning a gun than I do an expanded special edition of Reese Witherspoon in “Sweet Home Alabama.” I just don’t find it useful to my interests, unless I’m forced to watch “Sweet Home Alabama,” at which time I might want a gun to go all Elvis on the TV.

And I’m certainly not sure why people feel so scared of their shadows that when they go for a nice stroll, or they go to watch their kid’s ballgame, they need to pack heat or their hearts palpitate nervously like me when I show up to a ballgame without a Starbucks grande americano with two Sweet-n-Lows and skim milk.

Indianapolis is the latest place where someone is proposing that people with permits be allowed to pack heat in public parks. That someone is a Libertarian who, philosophically, figures our Second Amendment rights extend to having a Glock in your pocket while you push your child on the swings.

3200979329_634514a42dKid, that swing is taken, if you catch my drift.

In some way, I get that. I don’t agree with it, but I get it. What I don’t get is the reaction of Republican council member Ryan Vaughn, quoted in the Indianapolis Star:

“For the sake of consistency, I think there’s merit in it,” Vaughn said. “You could have citizens who don’t know what kind of park they’re in.”

Don’t know what kind of park they’re in? What is THAT supposed to mean? I don’t know if Vaughn has a racist bone in his body, but it sounds to me like my fellow white man wants his constituents protected in case they somehow stumble across Scary Black Park. (If Vaughn introduces an ordinance to change the names of parks to reflect their racial makeup and crime status, then we’ll know.) The only other way I could see citizens not knowing what kind of park they’re in is if they travel there wrapped inside a sack and then get dumped off the back of a truck.

Fortunately, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, a Republican and ex-Marine who presumably knows how to handle a gun, unlike most of the numbnuts who would pack heat at the park, said he would veto allowing guns in the parks, given that in three years in office, by his reckoning, exactly zero people have brought up this issue with him.

Still, that’s not likely to stop pro-gun types, not with victories such as the upcoming lifting of the gun ban in national parks, set to take effect Feb. 22. (It won’t be all Wild West — the park will enforce whatever local gun laws are in place.) Plus, you still have the push-pull in Tennessee, where it became legal to carry in public parks, unless local governments passed a law saying otherwise — and some have.

It doesn’t help the case when you have oddballs like the guy in Seattle who protested his city’s new ban on guns in the parks by taking a pistol to a dog show. You know, just in case a shih-tzu looked at him cross-eyed. (Technically, the guy is right — a Washington state law passed in 1983 prevents any locality from passing such a gun ban, and there are lawsuits against the city declaring just that. But still.) Or tragic cases like the mom in Pennsylvania who created a cause celebre by openly carrying a weapon at her kid’s soccer game — and then ended up dead by her husband’s hand in a murder-suicide.

The only person I know and would trust taking a gun to a park for a Sunday walk or a kid’s ballgame is a friend of mine who happens to be an ex-Marine and a Secret Service agent. At least I know he’s trained to be alert for danger and would know how to discharge his weapon without wiping out the opposing team’s parents. Otherwise, it just seems like overkill, no pun intended, for people to bring guns along. If you’re feeling tense and nervous at the ballpark, I would recommend a strong cup of coffee instead.

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