Monday, January 28, 2013

Abusrdity of Walker's "bow" claim goes beyond the lie

Governor questions our intelligence with comparison between dangers of bows versus guns

Gov. Scott Walker is a darling of the gun lobby. It’s not exactly a secret.

The NRA gave Walker nearly a million dollars to help him win his recall election last year. No doubt that contribution was in recognition of Walker’s efforts to bring about gun legislation that catered to the organization’s likings.

A concealed carry law allowing gun owners across the state to have weapons in public areas, as well as a “castle doctrine” law that allows you to shoot a person dead when you feel threatened (even when the supposed “assailant” is unarmed), have given Walker a boost to his already conservative credentials, especially among gun enthusiasts (and manufacturers).

It’s not all-too surprising, then, to see Gov. Walker making outlandish statements about guns. In the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, however, many conservatives have tried to avoid the issue, while others have defended the Second Amendment wholeheartedly, believing the right to be an absolute one that can never be regulated.

Walker has tried to play the middle, supporting his gun credentials while still trying to appear empathetic. And while there’s little doubt that Walker’s feelings on the massacre are genuine, we shouldn’t try and kid ourselves here: Scott Walker still favors loose restrictions (if any) on guns.

His latest comments on the issue provide a clear understanding of where Walker is coming from. When pressed by several media outlets on where he stood on gun rights earlier this month, on whether the massacre in Connecticut had tempered his stance any, Walker responded with this, according to Politifact Wisconsin:
Walker said too much attention is paid to the weapon in such shootings and cited a recent case as an example: "We just had someone last week in Neenah near a school kill someone with a bow and arrow."
Emphasis added.

As correctly pointed out by Politifact and others, that incident never happened, at least the way that Scott Walker portrays it. A person wasn’t “killed” by an arrow -- their car was hit, but that was the extent of damage done. And it wasn’t at a school, but rather on private property more than two miles away from a school.

The farthest distance a bow has ever shot an arrow, on record, is less than half that range.

What made the situation dire was that it was unclear whether the individual with the bow had wandered off or entered the house shortly after shooting the vehicle. The school was placed on lockdown as a precautionary measure.

Things got more tense, however, when they realized the man had entered the home -- where the family said there were “a dozen firearms” inside.

Ironically, Walker recalled the story because of the bow, but neglected to mention that guns played a major part of it. The standoff lasted nearly four hours.

Any weapon can be dangerous when placed in the wrong hands. The bow could have been potentially dangerous, too, had the man wandered near the school, and the precautionary measure to lock it down was the right one to make.

But guns are especially more dangerous than bows. Anyone with a fifth grade education knows that, if the goal is a greater degree of damage, a gun is the weapon of choice.

Gov. Walker made a crude and ridiculous comparison to bows and guns when he tried to explain his stance on the issue. A right to defend oneself is inherent, and most gun control advocates even recognize that a pure abolition of guns would be a violation of personal freedoms, let alone unmanageable. Walker wouldn’t be in the wrong in articulating that position.

But to stand by the NRA mantra that says “it’s the person, not the weapon” that matters foolishly disregards the fact that certain guns do indeed pose greater dangers than others. A gun that can blast off hundreds of bullets a minute deserves a place -- in our nation’s military. It’s not necessary for the defense of one’s home or family.

The comparison between a militarized rifle and a sportsman’s bow is ridiculous. Moreover, it’s irresponsible for a chief executive to consider them in the same boat, and it should cause us concern that our governor is trying to tie them together.

The validity of Walker’s claim -- that someone died as a result of a bow shooting in Neenah -- isn’t the only thing wrong with the governor’s comments. He undermines the true debate about guns in our country today, creating a comparison that gives “apples to oranges” a run for its money.

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