The recent “debate” regarding “Second Amendment sanctuaries” at Spotswood High School dare not set a precedent for future matters brought before the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors. They timidly let angry shouts usurp what could have been an honest and rewarding debate. Anyone who wanted to speak should have been heard. Supervisors could have wisely used their gavel and the several sheriff’s deputies there to keep order.

Ironically, the views of this loud crowd are contrary to the opinions of the vast majority of gun owners in Virginia and country, including NRA members. They are not simply gun owners. They are gundamentalists -- a quasi-religious sect that claims gun rights are absolutes and come from God and no restrictions can be linked with the Second Amendment.

I support the Second Amendment, and formerly was an NRA member. Both sides should examine the Supreme Court’s landmark case on gun rights in 2008. (Heller v. District of Columbia). To explain the court’s decision that owning a gun was an individual right, the majority chose a champion for gun rights, the late Antonin Scalia.

Scalia wrote, “like most rights, the Second Amendment is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. The Court’s opinion, although refraining from an exhaustive analysis of the full scope of the right, should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

These words negate any assertion for unrestricted rights on guns, yet, that same claim remains the goal of this zealous sect who oppose every regulation before state or federal legislative bodies and plan to harass anyone who thinks otherwise.

Secondly, we should listen to Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who conducted a National Poll of Gun Owners in 2009. After interviewing gun owners and NRA members, he concluded “80% of all gun owners believe gun rights and public safety are not irreconcilable but complementary.” Those numbers have increased dramatically since 2009 and 94% of Americans favor background checks on all guns sold.

Gun owners I know are civic-minded and belong to a growing movement that supports sensible reform. We are searching for middle ground so we can build the America we all want. Because of the ubiquitous maneuverings by this tiny minority, the progress is slow, but it is sure. In 2018, nearly 40,000 Americans died at the barrels of guns. We don’t have to live this way. We are better than that.

We await the arrival of more good citizens and strong, rational voices from the silent majority who are willing to take a risk for love and safety’s sake. God grieves and so do we even as we live and work in hope.

James E. Atwood lives in Rockingham. He is the author of "Gundamentalism and Where It is Taking America" and "Collateral Damage: Changing the Conversation About Firearms and Faith," recently published by Herald Press.

(27) comments


Word on the street is that there were a lot more armed, peaceful folks on the streets of RVA than the 20 thousand Capital Police were allowed to say.

And it appears that Coonman Northam smacked his head on Bloomberg's desk when he crawled out from under it this morning.


Thanks for the response, Mr. Dansby. When a component of those who are left-of-center refer negatively to corporate elites, Wall Street elites, financial elites, etc. are they engaging in anti-elitism?


Donald, Donald, I think you are exploring still another of the examples of the divide in the country. Those that complain about the wealth gap are generally identified as democrats, while the conservative and libertarian are quick to support the right of anyone to get rich.

There has been a lot written in recent years on the psychological differences between liberals and conservatives. The psychology that explains the tea partier's aversion to what he calls elitism is different than the liberal's complaint as to the wealth gap. People that participated in the Occupy movement were college graduates that could not get jobs who were wondering why that was the case in an otherwise prosperous period, one in which more billionaires than ever were being produced.

I don't think that the complaint as to the wealth gap is based on wanting something for nothing. Rather, it is a vague recognition that something is wrong with a system that produces such extremes. This can and hopefully has led to an examination of the structural causes of this modern wealth gap, such as globalization.

Globalization puts Americans in a bind. The rise of China and the whole world has created orders of magnitude more wealth, but those working in and owning stock in global companies benefit from this wealth, while the American worker suffers as he has to compete with the wage scale of the developing world. This affects both the recent graduate in the Occupy movement who complains about the wealth gap, and the tea party conservative that complains about the elites and who is drawn to Trump who promises to stop the giant sucking sound of globalization.

There are other forms of structural economic disruption. This disruption causes difficulties to both the progressive and conservative, but they respond to it in different ways. Progressives look for ways of what conservatives like to label "redistribution," as exemplified by Joe the Plumber, while conservatives seek to "make America great again" with trade barriers and stopping immigrants.

These other forms of disruption include an Internet and digital capacity that enables Amazon and Uber. Bezos is not to be blamed for getting rich, but his getting that rich is depriving others in the economy from doing well. That is, Amazon online purchasing is not increasing efficiency enough to generate that much wealth; a large part of it comes from the disruption, from an economy that has not caught up with the change. The yellow cab driver loses his job to Uber as much for the disruption of the Internet/digital economy as for the increase in convenience in using Uber.

Another disrupters is climate change and the need to transform our economy to do something about it. This relates more to the elitism syndrome than to actual economic disruption, because very little political action has taken place. Even the loss of coal jobs has come from cheap natural gas, not climate change policy. But the tea party guy is incensed by it, and, adopting the view that it is a UN redistribution scheme, see it as just another expense to keep them out of the prosperous middle class.

Ordinary people respond to actual problems, such as the lower middle class not being able to get ahead for the past 30 years, and the college grad not being able to find a professional job. The Democratic solution via Bernie Sanders and the Republican solution via Trump are tariffs and trade barriers. The Democratic solution via Elizabeth Warren is taxing the rich and Medicare for all. The traditional republican and Democratic solution under Biden is hold and roll long enough for free trade to work through the disruptions.


I am not trying to “explore” any divide, Mr. Dansby, least of all the “wealth gap”. However, I do think I see where I have been stumbling. I have been assuming that the term “anti-elitism” was being used in an objective way in which it would apply equally across the political spectrum. It appears, though, that you are using it in a highly specific manner applied relatively as a restricted descriptor of a particular segment of what you refer to as conservatism. Fair enough. I can see how that would be a valid area of inquiry in assessing psychological motivation in regard to a particular political outlook. Of course, that does not mean it is a correct assessment. I would leave that for others to argue.

But, might I suggest that because the term “elitist” is so politically effective, elitists – or at least those accused of being elitist or supporting elitism – scramble to redefine their positions as being anything other than “elitist”, (“anti wealth gap” for example)?

Or, perhaps we could simply say that for Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren, Ms. Cortez and others who might be described as left-of-center that it is ok not to be anti-elitist?


Your platitudes mean nothing, we know what you want. The disarming of our population so you can begin your grand plan. A bernie paid field organizer, stated the dimokkkrap ultimate agenda. kill anyone who resists and put the rest in reeducation camps! Chairman Mao has taught you very well. How many millions will you have to murder? That fact will not change, only our weapons will stop your genocidal intentions. Agenda 21 will be fought to the last true patriot


What do you have against Agenda 21?


Mr Dansby, for the sake of clarity and context, Trumps statement was:

“We won with young. We won with old. We won with highly educated. We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated,"


Mr. Atwood, you may have inadvertently failed to include Mr. Scalia’s final sentence in the section you quoted concerning the Heller thingie. It is as follows:

“Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons. Pp. 54–56.”

I assume that of primary interest to you is the banning of AR15 style platforms and detachable magazines holding more than 10 rounds. Please refer to the omitted sentence that I supplied and pay particular attention to the phrase “in common use at the time”. This was in reference to common use by the military in the time Miller was being decided. For a more complete understanding you may wish to review the Miller case of 1939.

Whether one agrees with Mr. Scalia or not, I think the complete section gives more substance as to what Mr. Scalia meant.


There is no doubt in my mind, Mr. Atwood, that you support a second amendment, but I think it is a collective oriented interpretation of it that you seem to want to apply which is the ‘right’ to keep and bear arms in common use only in service to the state and only with the permission of the state – any other use of arms in general being a privilege granted by the state and rescindable by the state.


And one minor request for clarification, Mr. Atwood. When you wrote “We await the arrival of more good citizens…”, are you referring to the continued importation of cultures alien to our historic culture – cultures such as Hispanic and Asian that vote overwhelmingly in favor of more restrictions on gun ownership?


Gundamentalism is kind of a clever word.


It is, indeed.[beam]


Joke off, James.

Molon Labe


Another book-hawker labels law-abiding, rational gun owners as members of some sort of psychotic cult to excite the liberal socialists! This guy may have a PhD in social engineering and/or moral authority judging.

Here's a news flash: Demented criminal killers don't read books nor acknowledge laws!!


Just another willing to trade security for false "safety". So short sighted it boggles the mind! For the one millionth time, these proposed changes to our laws will only make criminals out of the honest citizens and will not stop any shootings or crime. These laws are not about "safety" and never have been, they have always been about gaining control. Thank God my so many of my fellow Rockingham county citizens are willing to stand and fight for their rights and the rights of their children and grand children. We will never, EVER give up freedom as you suggest!


The quality of our governance is being distorted by guns, fundamentalist religion, anti-government attitudes, and anti-elitism. If these attitudes were dropped, a rational consideration of the real issues of government could be had.


What a wonderful distillation of current times!! Thank you.


The quality of government has been perverted by liberal democrats led by psychopathic partisans like Pelosi, Schumer, AOC and many others to numerous to recall.


It may be that from your personal level of morality, you are speaking the only truth possible.


The quality of governance, is impacted by people such as yourself who can't make an argument based on reasoned thought but rather name calling. You vote for similar people. You lack the maturity for public discourse, but in America you are free to demonstrate how childish you are.


HBD, The “lack of” quality of our governance is a direct result of extremism from the far left/progressives. They control 88% of the media and have a radical gov’t solution for any and all problems (real or imagined). They are anti-gun, anti-religion, anti-freedom, anti-responsibility, anti-individual, anti-capitalism, anti-business, anti-private property, anti-speech, etc, etc.

There, I fixed your post.


No wonder the country is divided, if the Right believes what you have written.

The media you regard as liberal is simply traditional journalism, reporting the boring facts. The dominant media today is the unconventional quasi journalism of Fox News and the various conservative talk shows, from Beck to Hannity, and various online versions. This unconventional journalism has poisoned the citizenry beyond repair.

Liberals are not anti capitalism, religion, business, private property, freedom, responsibility, speech, etc. They do want to try out solutions on guns, so you are partially right on one of nine that you listed.


HBD, you just don’t know what you don’t know. First off, I am not a member of the “Right” (as you try to allege to people that disagree with you).

Read a great book called “Bias”. It will fill you in on the fantasy world that you call “journalism” by the “mainstream” (aka proggie elite ) media. They are nothing but big Corporations (that C word) working as a mouthpiece for the Dems (mostly progs).

True Journalism has been dead for decades......or in terms you may understand better, the a Emperor has no clothes !


Whalbroc, you are correct that it is an over generalization to lump you or anybody else in the "Right," as the variations in political views is as numerous as there are people. But we have to use such terms for brevity. Perhaps you and others can apply that caveat to the abuse of the term "liberal."

Yes, the corporatization of the media has had negative consequences. For example, it took the major networks 20 years to begin covering climate change, while NPR has been covering it consistently during that whole time. Still, the mainstream still practices responsible journalism, verifying sources, minimizing opinion spinning, etc. Today, we are eaten up with quasi-journalism like Fox News and the various money-driven talking heads like Limbaugh and Beck. Hannity is just a mouthpiece for Trump. These guys are making millions.

I think the reason you associate mainstream media with Democrats is that the two groups have something in common--a relatively rational view of reality.

My guess is that you are a real oddball and are drawn to oddball sources for your news of world affairs. When I meet a climate change denier, in the face of all the information to contrary, I figure I have met someone in the grip of oddballery. But like an ant crawling on a basketball, there is no way that he will figure out that his journey is limited in scope.


HBD, sorry, you just showed why my Mama told me not to argue with fools.

Oddballery?? Who even thinks that way and says that?

Your worldview is yours.....fantasies included.

As far as your picture of me, I will take that as a compliment. If you thought I was great, then I’d be really worried.

Have a good day.


Mr. Dansby, so that I might better understand your position, when you complain of anti-elitism this implies that you are pro-elitism. What do you mean by elitism and can you explain who these elites would be who would better govern the People? Thanks.


Anti-elitism is a major driver of division in the nation. This is more of an attitude on the part of a component of conservatives than an attitude of any group these conservatives view as elite. Anti-intellectualism has always been a part of fascism and it is similar to what we see in the anti-elitism. Anti-semitism is largely gels driven by anti-elitism. "Jews will not replace us." Trump has exploited this feeling of inferiority on the part of some groups, where in his rallies he has said such thing as "I love the undereducated!" The so-called mainstream media has long been regarded as elitist by these folk. It is a dangerous attitude because a) it cuts off communication, and b) provides one more avenue of division.

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