NC Paper Crosses Line When Defending Sheriff

One thing I try to pride myself on is my ability to get both sides of the argument, particularly around guns. While I get worked up like everyone and sometimes ascribe motives to some they might not actually have, I do try to step back and think about it calmly. After all, not everyone actually thinks of themselves as a tyrant. Remarkably few do, actually.

But it does get a little annoying when the other side of the debate makes no such attempt.

Take an editorial from the Winston-Salem Journal.

The Wake County sheriff, Gerald Baker, has enough real problems to deal with right now, as do law enforcement officials everywhere. People who want to rush out and buy guns, and people who worry about gun rights more than, apparently, public health and safety, need to give him a break.

I’m sorry, but the accusation that we care more about gun rights than public health is nothing more than an incendiary attempt to frame this as an either/or discussion.

Sheriff Baker was under fire not because of public health concerns, but his failure to balance those concerns with people’s rights.

Few people actually don’t care about public health at a time like this. There’s a reason so many of us are practicing social distancing, keeping home as much as possible, and generally avoiding contact with anyone not part of our immediate family. We’re not stupid.

On the same token, though, we don’t feel our rights should be shuffled aside so easily by the mandate of an elected official.

Not that anyone on the Journal‘s editorial board gives a damn about that, apparently.

Of course, for them, it doesn’t seem to matter about rights at all.

Odds are people wouldn’t be getting their permits any time soon anyway. By the time he called a suspension, Baker’s office had a backlog of 755 pending applications. It would be different if Baker were keeping people from getting something essential — say food or medication. But more guns are not what people need, especially now.

Who are they to determine what I or anyone else needs right now?

Besides, someone’s needs and someone’s rights have little to nothing to do with one another. The Second Amendment doesn’t have a clause that allows governments to just ignore it whenever people get sick.

Sure, a case can be made that when a right directly contributes to people getting sick, then maybe it’s time to curtail that right. That’s the thinking behind banning gatherings and church services, for example.

Yet getting a gun permit doesn’t endanger the public health to any appreciable degree. Folks have a greater likelihood of getting the virus at the grocery store than they do while getting or issuing a permit.

But if we’re going to play the need game, then let’s try this hypothetical on for size.

During the current emergency, it’s understandable that some newspapers wish to devote precious resources to various topics such as crime, politics, and lifestyle. They’d likely continue covering sports if there were any sports to cover. However, the current emergency necessitates a different approach. Newspapers don’t actually need to pen editorials on political matters during this difficult time. They need to focus their limited resources on disease-related news exclusively.

Now, do you think that would fly with the editorial board at the Journal?

Probably not. It shouldn’t. Our rights don’t go out the window because of COVID-19 and that includes the right to a free press.

It also includes the right to keep and bear arms, which the editorial board would do well to remember going forward.

None of us on this side of the discussion are oblivious to the public health concerns, but I’m personally getting sick of those concerns being used as an excuse to curtail the rights of law-abiding Americans. Just because some journalists who know everything they know about guns from watching bad action movies don’t think we need them just makes it that much worse.