Years ago, I became somewhat high-profile on the local level. In my town, I was moderately well known, and I was a staunch critic of the local government as well as a member of the media. I recognized that because of that profile, anything I did could be viewed under something of a microscope. Mistakes that might ordinarily only concern my family and I could become newsworthy to some degree because of that profile.
Those days are thankfully behind me, but I found it was a good way to keep me in check just a bit.
Unfortunately for one state representative from Minnesota, he didn’t seem to do that, and now the governor is condemning his rhetoric.
The two major gun control proposals lawmakers plan to debate this session haven’t even had a hearing yet at the state Capitol and already accusations and condemnations are flying.
Gov. Tim Walz released a statement Sunday condemning comments made by Rep. Cal Bahr, R-East Bethel, during a Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus rally at the Capitol on Saturday. Walz said Bahr’s comments risked inciting violence.
“There’s a lot of us in this room that have had enough, and it’s time to start riding herd on the rest of these people that want to take your rights away from you,” Bahr said, according to a video posted on the gun caucus’ Facebook page.
“They will not go quietly into the good night. They need to be kicked to the curb and stomped on and run over a few times,” he said.
Bahr is a member of the New House Republicans caucus, a group that recently broke off from the House GOP caucus. He is a small business owner serving his second term.
Walz is a supporter of two proposals expected to get hearings in the House public safety committee this week: universal background checks for firearm purchases and a “red flag” law that would allow police to take guns from people deemed dangerous.
Now, I don’t know Rep. Bahr, but I truly do believe that his comments were metaphorical, not literal.
However, I also think Rep. Bahr spoke poorly. Not because he is vehemently pro-gun. I respect that. I also respect, understand, and share the sentiment he expressed in his comments. Those who wish to infringe on our rights do need to go away forever, and if they won’t, we need to make it so that they’re non-factors in American politics.
That’s all Bahr was saying. I get that.
I also get that we live in a world where the media no longer even tries to pretend it’s unbiased. They’re going to take everything a pro-gun voice says and present it as literal. They’re going to use it to advance the notion that we’re all violent psychopaths and the only reason we want guns is to kill everyone who disagrees with us.
Nevermind that so much of the supposed violence we hear about being perpetrated by the Right tends to end up being hoaxes. Nevermind that what political violence we find tends to be from the extreme Left.
But that’s the media for you, and it’s why gun rights advocates need to tiptoe carefully in their speech. We shouldn’t have to, but if they can find a way to use that as a hammer against you, they will.
On the same token, don’t back down. Just be smart about it and recognize that the reason they take comments like that literally is that when they say them, they mean them just that way and can’t comprehend you don’t.
So watch your step when you speak, to avoid ridiculous backlashes like this.