Utah is going to be in the news for the next few days.
No, it isn't because the Sundance film festival is starting, or because we have another Nobel prize winning scientist among us. It isn't even because the Mormon church is making headlines. It's because some idiot decided to go into a store like this.
Yes, that is an assault rifle. Yes, it is perfectly legal for him to be carrying it. Under Utah state law as long as the gun is unloaded, or he has a concealed carry permit, he can take it anywhere he wants, no matter if it makes others around him feel unsafe, or if he has mental problems, or if it is just plain dumb. Yes, the police can stop and question him, but as long as he meets the criteria, he can do what he wants.
Do we all see the problem with this?
Guns are becoming more important than people.
More important than maintaining a civil society.
Don't tell me this is about rights. If this were about rights then the same people screaming about guns would be screaming that homosexual couples should have the right to express their love like all other Americans, and that women should be able to make their own reproductive decisions. After all, don't all "slippery slopes" end at the bottom?
Don't tell me this is about safety. I could quote a millions studies showing how a gun in the home is more likely to get the residents injured or killed than any intruder. How having a gun involved in a crime raised the risk of fatalities. How most of the people who commit gun crimes own their firearm, don't steal it. However, if you have ignored those studies before, you are going to ignore them now.
Don't tell me this is about hunting, or self-reliance. That dude is not going hunting at JC Penney. I know they claim to have "killer prices" but I don't think he is trying to take it to the extreme.
What this is about (at least as far as I am concerned) is intimidation. It's about people who feel their way of life is being threatened and so they are figuratively and literally pulling out the big guns. They feel they are becoming the minority after so long in power, and it's scary. I get that. But the answer isn't to threaten your fellow citizens, even under the guise of trying to protect you and them. After all, I bet if anyone talked to that guy he would say the gun was "for protection."
I really wish that we could all just talk about this. That I could say to someone "I fear that guns are becoming so prevalent that I want background checks on the parents of all of my daughter's friends" without being told I am a liberal fascist (yeah, I know, but I have seen the term used). I am sure that gun owners want to vent their fears of inadvertently being painted as criminals because they are exercising a constitutional right.
That won't happen though -- at least not right now. So, maybe we could all just agree not to be total assholes. At least not in ways that makes everyone else in the state have to explain to their friends why exactly it is we live here again. We can only extoll the beauty of the mountains, and the not so weird liquor laws, so many times.