Last updated: July 18. 2013 2:18PM - 442 Views
Ron Gregory
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With emotions already running extremely high in the “Great Gun Controversy of 2013,” it was not unexpected that last week’s developments stirred the pot even more.


Nobody here can feel anything but sorrow at what the people of Boston endured following the Boston Marathon bombing. Sane people everywhere joined in extending sadness and sympathy for the loss of lives and related injuries in that New England city.


More than that, America lost another bit of its innocence last week. It is not that we haven’t lost it before; it is just impressive when it happens again and again, piece by piece. And, in the case of the marathon, most folks knew at least somebody who was running in that world-class event or had run in it earlier.


Eyes and ears at the state capitol were glued to radios, televisions and computers as innocent Americans attempted to absorb the horror of what happened in Massachusetts. Most responded with looks of disbelief when they saw the streets loaded with law enforcement trying to find an elusive teenager who apparently decided to wreak havoc during the marathon.


One statehouse regular noted that this was the closest he had been wrapped to a TV since O.J. Simpson tried to evade police years ago.


* * * * * *


Coming on the heels of a defeat for United States Senator Joe Manchin’s compromise gun bill legislation as well as the shooting death of Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum, the marathon bombing aroused even greater feelings from those on both fringes of the gun control controversy.


I couldn’t help but wonder how my friends who think the government is the ultimate enemy could feel better watching the Boston police, FBI and others work to find the bomber. After all, if the government is “against” us, the first line of defense is law enforcement. I wondered, too, what Republican Delegate Josh-ua Nelson, now serving in the military, would do if the president ordered his unit to attack downtown Charleston.


Those who grow eloquent in defense of the military are often the same ones who are “sure” the government is making a list of every privately-owned gun in the country so they can confiscate them. I wonder who the government would have confiscate the guns? Maybe the military?


The truth is there is no grand conspiracy to take every gun from the hands of honest, law-abiding Americans any more than the Supreme Court ever ordered that your child or mine cannot pray in a public school. Comments to the contrary are designed to stir emotions and raise money for various politicians and political agendas. That’s pure and simple.


As I have noted before, if “the government” wanted your guns, they have an arsenal of atomic and other bombs that would likely make you quite willing to give them to them. And, while we will all agree that suicide bombers are insane, how crazy is that redneck who insists if he keeps his gun he will “go down shooting” when the government invades? It seems that committing suicide is pretty silly, any way you slice it.


* * * * * *


On the other hand, the events of the past week do not necessarily show that nobody should ever have a gun. It was not a gun that caused havoc in Boston, although a gun did kill the Mingo sheriff. Still, the gun would not have killed if not for the person pulling the trigger.


Nevertheless, sophomoric suggestions that pressure cookers should now be banned because they were used in the Boston bombing are inane in and of themselves. The Average Joe does not buy a pressure cooker intent upon bombing the Boston Marathon. The average person buying a gun does, indeed, intend to shoot it. And therein lies the problem.


Accidental shootings continue; children are slain by siblings who fired a gun that was “not loaded.” If people could be trusted to use guns appropriately, we wouldn’t be debating this issue today.


* * * * * *


Continuing on the same subject somewhat, can somebody tell me what sense it makes that Mingo Sheriff Eugene Crum “trained” the man who allegedly shot him? Weekend media reports say that Crum “coached” Tennis Melvin Maynard at the Delbarton Boxing Club in the 1990s.


I have, frankly, always wondered about law enforcement officials who seem bent on perpetuating violence by coaching such activities. At the time, Crum was police chief of Delbarton. Again, as I have said previously, he appears to have been a prince of a man and aggressively pursued illegal drug use and pill mills.


But what is the message sent that a law enforcement official wants to “teach” someone how to cause physical damage to another? Yet most of the law enforcement officials I know think such activities are fun and enjoyable. They often call them “stress-relievers.” It is akin to the chicken thief teaching the farmer how to steal turkeys from a neighboring farm.


Sheriff Crum is not unique in “coaching” violent sports. He is one of many law enforcement officers who do it every day. I simply question the wisdom and the message sent by it.


* * * * * *


With the 2014 elections drawing closer and closer, potential opponents for officials such as Nelson are being mentioned. In the hugely Democrat district, Nelson will likely not get an opponent as inept as former Delegate Larry Barker. Barker simply made too many mistakes in his re-election try, including aligning himself with the hugely unpopular Democrat President Barack Obama.


Showing up in photographs with Obama was likely Barker’s undoing, in addition to the stories that he cast votes “against coal.” Nelson will likely not have it that fortunate next year.


One prominent name being pushed is former Democrat Delegate Ernie Kuhn. Kuhn would be a formidable candidate without the negatives Barker brought to the table. He would also not likely attach his election to the shirt-tail of Obama.


* * * * * *


No greater an expert than gubernatorial aide Raamie Barker has suggested that I pursue “just one subject” in this space each week. Then,he said, I could follow his example as former Logan Banner editor and include “a few tidbits” at the end of my dissertation.


Raamie is a great person, a fine friend and an outstanding newspaper man. I think I will keep doing the column as I have been, however.


* * * * * *


Oh my. Could George Washington High School have caused more of a stir than it did by inviting an abstinence-teaching speaker to appear before its students? The speaker suggested that by abstaining from sexual intercourse, GW students would avoid pregnancy. She also apparently used some less-than-gentle language in referring to those who participate in pre-marital sex.


Eventually, some came to the defense of Principal George Aulenbacher’s decision to invite the speaker. Also, Kanawha School Board member Becky Jordon admitted that her husband had donated funds to the group that sponsored the visit. Car magnate Joey Holland also contributed, it was reported. By way of transparency, I should probably note that I consider Jordon and Holland personal friends.


All I can say, after hearing the woman’s presentation, is it is no wonder everybody in Charleston wants to attend GW.


* * * * * *


I was amazed when the Charleston Daily Mail’s usually cynical columnist Don Surber pronounced the past legislative session as “the most productive in at least 20 years.”


Surber either missed the past 19 legislative sessions or has had some legislative Kool-aid if he really believes that. There was virtually nothing of consequence done by the 2013 legislature.


* * * * * *


Attorney General Patrick Morrisey did an outstanding job last week when he announced the findings of his investigation into the new West Virginia University media contract. Morrisey worked with WVU officials and others while issuing a report that was thorough and well-documented.


Of course, his report did not suit the greatest of sweetheart dealmakers, John Raese. Although WVU will, at Morrisey’s suggestion, rebid the entire contract just as Raese wanted, the Morgantown Republican is still not satisfied. He wants IMG Media eliminated from bidding a second time, thus giving his media companies an advantage.


Raese would be best served by sitting quietly in the corner.


* * * * * *


It is still fascinating to watch the legislative process, even to lifetime observers. When a friend pointed out to me that her son had been unable to participate in a State Police training academy class last year, I inquired as to whether the police were having a cadet class this year.


Initially told that they were not, state senators soon questioned the top brass as to what they had done with funds appropriated last year for the class. An official admitted the money was used for “higher fuel costs and things like that.”


When the senators insisted that, if they appropriate funds for it, they expect a cadet class held in 2013, the police officials quickly agreed and scheduled a new class for later this year.


* * * * * *


For those who missed it earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court has NEVER ruled that a child cannot pray in a public school. I am amazed that Bible-thumpers seem to believe that, especially in light of the fact that they think they can contact God directly any time.


What the court ruled is that there cannot be an organized, required prayer in schools. Your kid can pray all he or she wants as the teacher distributes this week’s test.


* * * * * *


By the way, seven gun bills were passed in the past legislative session. We will see what damage they do in the months ahead.


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Tips, story ideas or comments can be sent to the email address listed or to my cell at 304-533-5185. Anonymity is protected.





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