A few thoughts about the overflow crowd at the Dec. 10 Board of Supervisors meeting in which the board voted 4-1 to support the Second Amendment proposition put forward by the local Republican Party:

(1) Would it be possible in the future—when issues are similarly controversial and attract dozens of out-of-county advocates—to reserve the majority of seats for attendees who can show that they are county residents?

(2) Can the sheriff’s office provide personnel to help the chair maintain order and decorum at such meetings, so that nobody feels intimidated?

(3) Is there a way to make it impermissible for any resident, including any member of our Board of Supervisors, to be threatened or bullied for their views, as was outgoing Supervisor Michelle Flynn when she courageously stood fast in her decision not to support the proposition?

I feel saddened by the hardening of lines in the matter of gun ownership and gun control. Almost everyone I know would agree that we want our loved ones and communities to feel safe. Some people feel they need arms to ensure such safety.

My experience has been different. I feel less safe with the proliferation of privately held arms—that is, those arms beyond the shotguns and bolt-action rifles used responsibly by licensed hunters.

In my circle of family and friends, nobody has used a gun appropriately to self-defend or stop a crime. Instead, my circle includes a brother-in-law who impulsively committed suicide with a loaded pistol he spotted at a friend’s house. And there was the friend of my son who was shot through the door in an apartment building when he came home drunk and mistakenly fumbled with his keys at the wrong door. And another young man who was attacked with verbal insults and aggressive physical moves at a gas station and ended up shooting and killing the unarmed attacker (he’s in prison for that reaction). And the daughter of my children’s music teacher who was killed in the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre by a student using two semi-automatic pistols.

Would any of these situations have developed differently and ended better if fewer people had less access to guns? I think so.

A final concern of mine: Should an individual who is paranoid, often angered by perceived offenses or imagined happenings, be able to easily buy guns? I’m guessing that many of us know such a person with mental problems—I certainly do, and I don’t want that person to be armed.

Others may disagree with my concerns over unregulated gun ownership, despite the fact that both the U.S. and Virginia Constitutions stipulate “well-regulated” militias. But I hope we could disagree civilly.

Bonnie Price Lofton


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