A profound thank you to the Missoula City Councilors who are advancing background checks for all gun sales within Missoula city limits.
The naysayers are many but these council members are doing what they believe is right in the face of nasty opposition. Just look at the comment section that follows the Missoulian story – some truly offensive stuff there.
The blogs I frequent often have comments about “moral cowards” (usually leveled at people who disagree with a certain premise). I would venture that the councilors who proposed and support the gun ordinance are showing moral courage. That’s rare in elected officials.
One of the more reasoned critiques came from Dan Brooks at the Missoula Independent, who is sympathetic to the ordinance but doesn’t support it. He says local laws won’t work and there needs to be a federal law for background checks at gun shows and for private sales, but that a federal law is impossible in the current Congress.
Why not start at the local level, then? It certainly can’t hurt and may even gain some momentum, but he continues:
I cannot support this ordinance, however, because I think it is likely to provoke opposition from gun show participants without making it meaningfully harder for felons to get guns … It also has the potential to alienate an important partner in solving this problem: organizers of gun shows.
Organizers of gun shows and most gun show participants will never be allies in restricting access to guns, so I’m not that worried about alienating them. They are a small minority.
There are many reasons for supporting this ordinance. Here are mine:
1) If the ordinance prevents just one homicide or suicide, it’s worth it.
2) Although it may be more symbolic than having any sweeping impact on gun sales, symbols are important. They speak to the values we hold dear in our community. I remember a decade ago when the council passed a resolution opposing the Iraq War. The resolution didn’t end the war but it did show where we (and many other communities) stood, morally. That’s important.
3) It will give Gary Marbut conniptions.
The proposed ordinance makes me proud of my city and (most) of my city council.