Gun issue sparks protest outside Dupage County Fairgrounds

– Diana Moca of the Naperville Sun covered an interesting showdown between pro and anti gun protesters this past sunday outside Dupage County Fairgrounds, sparked by a “sportsmans” show that was scheduled to feature guns. This blog thought it would be worth it to check on this outburst of tensity and anger since this is an important issue for anyone anywhere. I could probably be accused of being reductionist or oversimplifying when saying the protest was between pro and anti gun people. There’s many people who are designated on the anti gun side, that i’m sure would say they are pro gun safety and anti certain types of guns rather than being broadly against the individual ownership of firearms. And i’m sure there are a number of people designated on the pro gun side who see themselves as pro gun safety too but believe that the measures advocated against them go too far. It’s also notable that the sportsman show was originally featuring AR-15’s, which were the guns used by shooters in the Parkland, Vegas, and Newton mass shootings as Moca notes and discusses with anti gun protest organizer Jax West. “Enough is enough. Too many people have been killed by the AR-15.” The Association that runs the show- Pioneer Valley Sportsman Association- responded by eliminating displays and raffles of the AR-15 and an item called a Bump Stock that is an attachment to the AR-15.

Moca does a good job of covering what the consequences of the guns attachment are. It apparently converts a semi automatic rifle which Moca notes fires one shot per trigger, into a automatic rifle which can continuously fire while it is pressed. Clearly many see these attachments as needless and dangerous. Why does any civilian need a killing machine that could fire death at an appalling rate? I know describing the weapon as a “killing machine” sounds completely loaded, biased, and a bad way of being fair but that is objectively what the gun is for and has been used as. I can’t see any argument that there’s any other reasons to buy this attachment or this gun other than to increase the efficiency of killing other living things. And I don’t see how that desire is so important as to desperately want to prevent bans on this specific weapon. If the desire isn’t to increase killing efficiency than what is used for? Firing practice maybe? Gun competitions? Sure that’s fair, but my point and the point of many others smarter than me would be that those things aren’t even close to the stratosphere of being an important enough reason to not implement a ban on semi automatic and automatic weapons. The Pioneer Valley Association and it’s 40 year veteran president Mario Tolemei thought that would be enough to quell anger but evidently the issues go beyond just this gun and it’s preceding attachments. As Moca writes, “Despite being “pleased with that” decision, West proceeded with her planned protest because, “I want sensible gun laws passed — universal background checks, no one under 21 can buy, vote out politicians that take money from the NRA .” There was a counter protest which Moca does a good job of covering, that went back and forth with the anti gun protesters on this tense Sunday morning. The arguments usually drifted towards the usual unintended consequences argument from pro gun people and the it’s way too easy to get a gun argument from anti gun people. There was also some insults flung around apparently, supportive or insulting honks, and just many symptoms of a very polarizing issue.

One of the quotes featured in the story, from a pro gun protester pointed at this division. “There’s a problem, but there’s more to it than guns,” said Rutkowski, who joined the group with his 11-year-old son, Matthew. “We’re all just as sick with the killings. It needs to stop. What also needs to stop is the blame. Taking everything away won’t solve the problem. People need to come together.” It’s easy to see the appeal to a stance like that and in many ways I think he is right. But there is also blame for the shootings that have happened and will continue to happen that needs to be distributed. Not for revenge but to try to prevent such things from happening again, and so justice can be achieved. There is of course more to these tragedies than the tools that facilitate them, but acting like the tools aren’t important is missing a huge part of the picture. Tolemei was apparently happy the protesters didn’t interrupt the show floor itself and noted the Pioneer Association hasn’t made any decision for their policies on displaying and raffling AR-15’s in future situations.

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