Charles Gregory wants to overturn almost every firearms restriction in Georgia.
Wayne LaPierre's offer of the NRA's expertise in installing gun turrets in the nation's grammar schools appears stunningly off-base for an organization that's managed to stay relevant in the national gun debate for decades. But cast your gaze off the national stage for a moment, down to the Georgia General Assembly, for the most appalling response to the Connecticut shooting thus far.
A fresh-faced, newly-elected Georgia state representative has just filed four bills in his state legislature aiming to blast away all gun registration and licensing in the wake of the Sandy Hook national tragedy. The bills, which aim to proliferate the presence of guns in this red state, amount to a "splashy public entrance" for Charles Gregory, the representative-elect of a district that includes Kennesaw, Georgia. Kennesaw is home to a still-current 30-year old ordinance that mandates every head-of-household who isn't mentally ill or a felon own and maintain a gun and ammo (with exemptions for conscientious objectors).
The 33-year-old self employed businessman comes to politics from Libertarian Meetups and has two brief run-ins with Ron Paul to his credit. So we can thank Gregory's childhood steeped in gun culture and his 20-something years steeped in the immature rantings of Ayn Rand for this 2-watt light-bulb moment: responding to a horrific gun slaughter with legislation that strips away gun licensing requirements, prohibits Georgia's Governor from halting the transfer or sale of firearms during an emergency, and lifts bans on guns in churches, state universities and community colleges. Gregory told the Marietta Daily Journal he wasn't targeting elementary, middle and high schools because that's not "politically feasible." So I'll give the man some credit for not making your dropped jaw dislocate entirely.
Of course, it's not pastoral Kennesaw that would see most of the death and destruction that easier access to guns in Georgia would bring; its the streets of metropolitan Atlanta that would experience most of the bodily damage. Bullets have a funny way of coursing into the brain or spinal cord, landing surviving victims in neurological rehabilitation. I've treated victims of gun crimes in St. Louis and in Boston, and now that I'm living in a state where Libertarian extremists like Charles Gregory (who served as the Georgia state director for Ron Paul's presidential campaign) can cloak themselves as Republicans and win election due to unsuspecting party-line voters, I'll doubtless be caring for more gun victims here in Atlanta.
I'm familiar with the real and present dangers surrounding keeping people alive who are paralyzed and have lost basic bodily functions after grievous bodily injury. What kind of threats do Libertarians like Representative Gregory worry about? He directs his website's readers to a particular YouTube video to learn more about the Second Amendment, and the video he's chosen explains his underlying angst - a pending Revolutionary War. Citizens bearing guns are preventing our current government from enslaving us. Such concerns are as legitimate as last week's Mayan calendar turnover compared to the real and present danger of blindly arming more people in Atlanta's streets and universities.
Gregory thinks he knows the Devil, and the Devil isn't made of steel. "Evil resides in the heart of the individual, not in material objects," he states in the preamble to the Georgia Constitutional Carry Act of 2013. Since objects "in and of themselves are not dangerous or evil, in a free and just society, the civil government should not ban or restrict their possession or use." So Charles Gregory calls criminals like Adam Lanza evil incarnate, and Wayne LaPierre prefers to call them monsters, anything to set the debate in terms of fantasy. Only then does having highly skilled armed saviors on hand to strike down the damned goblins that have come to take our children begin to make sense. Gregory and LaPierre imagine an epic existential battle. The guns are our light sabers, given to us from on high. Don't let these weapons fetishists distract you from the real daily trauma of slaughter and disability guns enable. I'm not.
Gregory calls himself a constitutionalist. Fine, equip all the little devils with the household armaments of 1791.
Cripple the guns, not the people.
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Ford Vox, MD, is a physician, based in Atlanta, who specializes in caring for people with complex brain injuries. He has written for Newsweek, Slate, and the Los Angeles Times.