Let’s help everyone stand some ground
On the premise that our homes are our castles, we have invoked the right to “stand our ground” and shoot anyone who appears on the castle grounds. To implement this concept, it is the current consensus that we all must have guns, even though less lethal weapons, such as baseball bats, would suffice as a deterrent 90 percent of the time.
Before venturing any further into this volatile subject, I was raised with guns and enjoyed the sport of hunting. Therefore, I approach the subject from neutral ground. Of course, Omdahl guns were hunting guns and not the classy revolvers brandished to protect castles today.
While the “stand your ground” idea started with guarding the castle, support for guns has moved far beyond the castle walls. Some would have them in schools, churches, funeral parlors, malls, airports and wherever else humans are found.
This is a situation that demands transparency. For those without weapons, it is important for them to know who “is packing heat.” This could be achieved by requiring everyone carrying a concealed weapon to wear a red cap or a shirt embossed with skull and crossbones, at least until everyone is equipped.
The situation also demands equality. In a gunfight at the mall, everyone should have an equal chance to stand a little ground.
For those who can’t afford guns, there should be a program to guarantee them protection — the same programs the government provides for medical needs, for crop failures, for acts of nature, nursing homes, hunger and other calamities.
We could start the program by giving guns to everyone on food stamps. A majority of them are working their hearts out at regular jobs but don’t earn enough for groceries, shelter or bare necessities. They can’t afford the guns to protect their castles.
They may not have a lot of jewelry in their castles but even the Walmart stuff is proportionately as important to them as the gems from Neiman Marcus that are guarded by the wealthy.
History tells us of the injustice that occurs when only a few people have guns. Native Americans didn’t have guns, and their castles were in greater danger than ours.
Our sense of fairness was out of whack then and may be so now. Native Americans should be the first to get guns, although it is 400 years too late.
This proposal to equalize the killing power will be greeted with criticism. The gun manufacturers and the National Rifle Association will endorse it, but most will insist that this welfare business has it limits. Many of the critics will be on Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, tax write-offs, heating assistance, government flood insurance or some other government handout.
Our secular sense of fairness tells us that simple justice demands equal treatment and equal protection for the rich and poor alike.
Then there’s the theological side. If we are a nation under God, we should give God’s point of view a little consideration, especially when we also claim that we trust him.
God should carry some weight in a society in which three-fourths of us profess to be Christians. We should admit that this “standing your ground” attitude is not a New Testament value.
We argue that we need guns to protect our stuff from robbers. Jesus suggested a different tack. If robbers want our stuff, he said, we should not only let them take it, but we should help them load it into the van.
That complicates the issue but life isn’t as simple as we are.
(Lloyd Omdahl, of Grand Forks, is a former lieutenant governor, state tax commissioner and state budget director)