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By William Everett • Guest Columnist

Garret Woodward’s Opinion piece “After tragedy in Vegas, where to from here?” (Oct. 4-10) leads us to wider questions about the fragility and peril of our country’s public life. Not only are our fellow citizens dying in mass shootings. Our republic itself is under assault. The integrity of the public arenas that constitute the lifeblood of our republican order is imperiled by the threat and fear of violence, while the fog of lies and a flood of political dark money pollute the reasonable debate at the heart of republican self-governance. The failure of governance through informed and reasonable argument creates a vicious circle of violent speech and violent acts. The freedom of self-governance cannot survive under conditions of violence and the threat of violence. Our freedom as citizens rests not in our possession of guns but in our capacity to engage in a public life of reasonable debate about the common good. Throughout history the collapse of the public life underlying republican governance has created the conditions for despotism, tyranny, and dictatorship. Despots arise who campaign on collective fear and govern by personal greed.

When local businessman Jule Morrow proposed a gun shop and indoor firing range in the pastoral Francis Farm community last winter, not everyone was excited about it.

A group of Second Amendment supporters planning an open-carry gun rights rally will move ahead with their event, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 5.

Haywood County political activists hope to hold a gun rights rally on the grounds of the Historic Haywood County Courthouse just days before the General Election in November.

Amidst a raucous crowd of nearly 600 runners — and probably just as many spectators — a couple of Saturday nights ago at the start of a race at Highlands Brewing in Asheville, I noticed quite a few people with phones taking videos.

And before I could tell myself not to go there, before I could steel myself so as not to give in to the state of paranoia that I suspect many are feeling, my mind ran away to the cell phone video of the St. Paul shooting victim by his girlfriend, to the cell phone videos of the protestors fleeing for their lives in Dallas after a gunman opened up on police, to the flood of mass shootings and police assassinations, and then I was scanning the ground around me for unattended bags, found myself eyeing spectators for anyone who seemed out of place and not into the party-like atmosphere of the moment.

fr shootingrangeWork has begun on a controversial Haywood County indoor shooting range that had some residents at odds last winter.

fr gunhaywoodFor 21 years, firearms have not been permitted on any county-owned property, except for law enforcement officers on duty. Almost nine years ago, that policy was whittled down, allowing exceptions for gun shows. 

fr gunsgunsgunsGun supporters turned out en masse this week urging Haywood County commissioners to allow concealed guns on county property, from the historic courthouse to youth sports fields.

op frIf we are ever going to have any hope of stemming the bloody tide of mass shootings — which happens in our country with such depressing regularity that we might pause for a day to shake our heads before moving on with the awful knowledge that absolutely nothing will be done about it — then we must first agree with the all-powerful gun lobby that no single piece of gun legislation is going to make much of a difference in stopping the bloodshed. 

They are right — we do not need one piece of gun legislation. Or two. Or three. We need to change the entire gun culture, and not just the gun culture, but the “culture of me.”

maconFranklin residents may soon have a closer and safer place to practice their shooting skills now that indoor gun ranges will be allowed in the town limits.

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