I am part of a Democracy for America (DFA) group that meets monthly at a local pizza place. We eat pizza and salad and some of us have a beer or some wine, while discussing politics. We sometimes invite a speaker or candidate to address the group. Last night, we listened to a local police officer speak on the problem of gun violence in our community and the chaos caused by "open carry" laws. This officer, a criminal investigator with over 30 years on the force, is also a Democrat and serves as a PCO.
Andy (I'll call him that, although it's not his real name) stressed that he was speaking to us as a private citizen, and not as a member of the city police force. He began by saying that our city is in good shape, compared to others in the area. Our city's culture is such that prosecutors regard gun crime as worthy of prosecution and citizens tend to call the police anytime they see someone carrying a gun. The problem lies with the state's "open carry" laws and groups that use that law as a way to create confrontation.
He reported that these trouble-makers will go into a bank or store and stand there, looking belligerant. Sometimes they will rest a hand on their weapon. When the police are called, they can do little. When the police department made arrests in the past, they were sued and lost. Andy stated that they had a situation recently where a person carrying an assault weapon was spotted walking near a trail that led to a school.
An officer arrested him, fearing that another school shooting was going to take place, but it turned out that it was another of this group that was just trying to cause trouble for the police. Now, the officer is waiting to see if he will lose his house in the upcoming lawsuit.
We talked about the local situation for well over an hour, but eventually frustrated DFA'ers demanded, "What can we do? How can we get some laws passed?" Andy stated that he believes we have a better chance of getting something passed this year than we've had in a long time. He said that the best thing we can do is keep the issue alive. Keep it on everyones' minds. Keep writing your senators, congressman, and your newspapers. Don't just do it once; do it several times and have all your friends do it.
We got kind of fired up, and started throwing around ideas to get publicity for the issue. I remembered that our Republican legislators are having a town hall meeting this month and suggested that we picket it with gun-related signs. Another member offered to make the signs. So, in a little over a week, we will be picketing a state senator and two representatives at their townhall meeting. We may end up in the newspaper; we may end up in jail, but we are doing our part to keep this issue alive. (I also plan to write letters, but this sounded like more fun.)