At least Rubio showed up

by | Feb 23, 2018 | Editor's Blog, Gun Control | 7 comments

We should applaud Florida Senator Marco Rubio. He showed up at a townhall meeting hosted by CNN, aired on national television, in front of an audience he had to know would be hostile to many of his positions. Some would say that he was only doing his job. In today’s divided politics, that’s more than a lot of politicians would do.

Instead, the response to Rubio highlights the problems in our current democratic debate. Those who oppose the Senator’s positions demonized him and demeaned him. Those who supported his arguments called him a hero and thanked him for protecting our rights. His positions are less relevant than his willingness to listen to his constituents’ concerns and his attempt to explain his positions.

The gun debate is probably the most polarizing in the country right now. Conservative columnist David French of the National Review believes the debate could break the country. Neither side cares to understand the other’s positions partly because neither side understands how the other side lives.

Rural Americans are among the most independent people in the country. They don’t want to rely on their neighbors, much less the government, for help. To them owning guns is part of their security and a buffer against hunger, if it ever came to that.

The Hank Williams, Jr. anthem “A Country Boy Can Survive” sums up the mentality, even if it’s romanticized. The song talks about farming, hunting and fishing and implies that folks in urban areas are less able to defend themselves. Folks in places like the Triangle may dismiss the song as a paean to  rednecks, but people where I grew up see themselves in it.

They believe banning one type of gun will lead to banning others. They don’t trust the government to keep them safe and they’re not willing to disarm. And they have the Second Amendment to back them up.

That said, there’s a lot of room between banning guns altogether and regulating them. When I talk to people in Anson County one-on-one, a lot of them agree that we need universal background checks. They even agree that we should regulate, and maybe ban, high-capacity magazines. I suspect that they would even come around to strict regulation of guns that could handle those types of clips. There’s certainly a compromise somewhere in there.

The problem has to do with the tenor of the debate. Gun advocacy groups warn that the government is coming for their guns. Gun control groups keep talking about bans and using language that indicates they don’t know the difference between one gun and another. Worse, they don’t care.

Getting both sides to the table without the distorting megaphones of the interest groups is the first step to finding solutions. Keeping the debate focused on the goal of reducing the number of mass killings is the second. On those two points, Marco Rubio showed up and he didn’t hew to anybody’s talking points. Maybe it was the least he could do, but it’s more than a lot of politicians are doing.


  1. Lee Mortimer

    I felt the same way that Rubio should be commended for his willingness to show up at an event that was likely to be (and was) very difficult for him. He at least did what few other politicians of either party would be willing to do. I sent a note to his office, thanking him for being there and helping to restore confidence in our elected officials.

  2. A.D. Reed

    I would love to see the links to evidence that “gun control groups keep … using language that indicates they don’t know the difference between one gun and another.”

    Which gun control groups do that? What is the language they use? I ask because I get requests from safety groups that specifically discuss the need to regulate and/or ban semi-automatic rifles including AR-15s and AK-47s and others. They don’t suggest banning shotguns, or single-bore rifles with a manual action, or any other guns that are actually used by actual hunters.

    I do recall growing up and hearing my dad and his brothers discuss who they hated to shoot game with a shotgun, because who wants to spend time finding and removing pellets from grouse and pheasant and squirrels. And I’ve never heard of — or met — an actual hunter who hunts with a semi-automatic, unless it’s someone in the military hunting enemies.

    So, can you give us some chapter and verse on those gun-control groups that are so ignorant?


    • A.D. Reed

      “why” not “who” in the first line of the third graf. Sorry. 🙂

  3. Norma Munn

    Your are correct that Rubio showed some backbone and willingness to listen. I suspect his well known ambition and expedient behavior has created an image of a man who cannot ultimately be relied upon.

    As for the image of the city folk versus the rural, please a little less classifying of all of us. AR-15s and other similar weapons are designed for one purpose only — to kill. No one can hunt with them. A single bullet destroys a large (very large) area of whatever it hits. Same with other automatic and semi-automatic weapons. The AR-15 just happens to be exceptional in its effectiveness. Do you really think that rural folks want their children to go to school and end up dead? Or that people with mental illness are not part of the rural areas of this country? I understand someone living in a rural area wanting a rifle or a pistol. Sadly, that reality also increases the likelihood a child injuring or killing another person while playing with one of those weapons and I am positive that rural people try very hard to prevent those tragedies.

    I would submit that most of us, regardless of where we live, share a great many concerns about guns. It is not we who talk past one another. It is the NRA (and few diehards of the white supremacy ilk), and too many politicians who go to their corners and come out swinging. So, ultimately, I will give Rubio an A for effort, but he is definitely as Mr. Smith said “inept.”

    • ebrun

      Sen. Rubio “showed some backbone and willingness to listen.” So that makes his behavior “expedient” and “ambitious” and ultimately unreliable? Such a statement illustrates Mr. Mills point– those who op[pose his (Rubio’s) positions will demonize and demean him.

      Suspicions confirmed. Neither side understands the other’s position. When someone on the right tries to be conciliatory, he is rebuffed and demeaned. So why bother?

  4. Eric Smith

    There is something well-intentioned but inept about Marco Rubio. Little Marco, Trump got that right. Wish he would grow up and be a leader esp on immigration reform and bipartisanship.

    • ebrun

      He got reelected in’16 despite Trump’s insults. He must be doing something right.

      He got burned once trying to appease liberals and RINOs on immigration reform . Once burned, twice wary. In today’s contentious political environment, you can’t please both sides at the same time. Better to stick with his base.

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