What is happening to our community? Not only did the Blount County Commission pass a resolution advertising us as a “sanctuary” for sick, cruel or deranged souls who — despite their families’ protestations — might want to own an assault rifle. But three of our county commissioners have now become evangelists for such thinking.

According to The Daily Times, these men recently traveled to Sevierville to speak on behalf of a similar “Second Amendment Sanctuary” resolution under consideration by their counterparts in Sevier County. We can take some comfort in the knowledge that four of our county commissioners voted against this dangerous measure, while the Sevier Countians passed it unanimously.

According to the Oct. 24 edition of The Daily Times, these men recently traveled to Sevierville to speak on behalf of a similar “Second Amendment sanctuary” resolution under consideration by their counterparts in Sevier County. We can take some comfort in the knowledge that four of our county commissioners voted against this dangerous measure, while the Sevier Countians passed it unanimously.

But the bigger story is what happened while our “representatives” were on hand in Dolly’s hometown. One of the Sevier Countians let lose a slanderous tirade against Democrats, presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg and the widespread discrimination faced by — brace yourself — white men. The man’s outburst was so vulgar and so extreme that it made national news.

When called upon for comment, two of our “representatives” initially said nothing according to The Daily Times. Commissioner Nick Bright was quoted as saying, “I was shocked. I could not believe he would make such comments in a public forum.” Better than a poke in the eye, but comments such as those made by the Sevier County commissioner should not be made in public or private. They were shameful and just plain wrong.

I am puzzled by the fervor that has arisen over gun rights and has birthed these odd resolutions of all-or-nothing thinking. Of course, people should be able to own a gun. To hunt. To defend. My father presented me with my first gun — a single-shot 410 gauge shotgun — when I was 11 years old. But military-style assault rifles? Automatics with massive ammo clips that dispense with reloading? Guns for domestic abusers and the mentally unstable? We’ve gone way beyond the muskets the Second Amendment was written to protect. We might as well say the amendment extends to machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

So why is this happening?

It seems that Americans are so dug into our ideological positions that we have difficulty recognizing a bad idea if it comes from our side. The same is true for our political candidates. Who cares if one is a crook as long as he’s our crook?

The World War II generation didn’t let itself fall into this trap. They remembered that my Democrat or Republican neighbor is still my neighbor. And, yes, he might even be right.

The Blount County Commission’s extreme and dangerous position on gun rights is but one example of politics run amok. Only a small percentage of Americans, for example, advocate for “open borders” that would allow anyone and everyone to enter our country at will, but why not protect the so-called “Dreamers” who were brought here as children, grew up here and have no other country to call home? Some of these brave young’uns have even served in our military, risking their very lives for the freedoms the rest of us enjoy.

The same could be said for birth control and abortion. A large majority of Americans support a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body, but does that mean there should be no restrictions on abortion? Even after the fetus is viable and capable of living outside of the mother’s body?

At our core, Americans are sensible people. More than that, we are kind, caring and capable of great sacrifice. But the “tribalism” must be called out and resisted.

When local legislators refuse the pleas of family members and law enforcement to take guns away from those shown to be a threat to themselves or others, we have a problem. And when our legislators fail to swiftly denounce and condemn expressions of bigotry and racism, that problem can grow. To paraphrase a wise man from the past, all that is required for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing.

Buzz Thomas is a retired Baptist minister, attorney and native Blount Countian.

(1) comment

thedoctormohrotar@gmail.com

Obviously you've never heard of the puckle gun patented in 1718. It is a Gatling style automatic turret. Oh, and automatics made after 1986 are not legal for civilians, and those manufactured before that are prohibitively expensive. Usually in the 10 to 100k range before the 200$ tax stamp and year of paperwork/approval. The second amendment is not for hunting. It is to ensure the capability of the people to redress tyrants. So yes, it does cover automatics. And by the way, an AR is an Armalite Rifle, just for everyone still believing it stands for assault.

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