GUEST VIEWPOINT From the Register Guard in MO. I'm a Democrat - and gun control is for the birds By C. Michael Arnold Published: Sunday, November 26, 2006 As a card-carrying member of the Democratic Party of Lane County, I enjoyed Michael Moore's "A liberal pledge" (Register-Guard, Nov. 22). He had some good tongue-in-cheek thoughts on how disheartened conservatives can rest assured that the new government will not harm them. However, I take exception to Moore's flippant comments regarding our Second Amendment right: "We will not take away your hunting guns. If you need an automatic weapon or a handgun to kill a bird or a deer, then you really aren't much of a hunter and you should, perhaps, take up another sport. In the meantime, we will arm the deer to make it a fairer fight." I agree with Moore quite often, but he sometimes makes us look silly to outsiders. He apparently doesn't realize that you are a superstar marksman hunting god or a stalking savant if you can kill a bird or a deer with a handgun. Without tons of practice, I can hardly hit a target 20 feet away with a handgun. However, I could shoot my 30.06 once a year and hit the same target 100 percent of the time. Other than alienating virtually every rural Democrat, there is no practical reason to ban handguns. We cannot take handguns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens when criminals would still buy them illegally or steal them. Besides, handguns are a tool for a specific job. For instance, they are smaller than rifles and shotguns. I'd be happy to walk into Market of Choice with a shotgun over my shoulder, but that tends to freak people out. Discrete, concealed handguns are a little more inconspicuous and safer; there's no point of advertising that you carry. Furthermore, handguns are often the best tool for home defense. A lot of people find handguns easier to handle; comfort with a firearm is 90 percent of the battle. At 6-1 and 205 pounds, I prefer my 12-gauge, but many women prefer smaller, longer-barreled handguns. When I do my farm chores, I prefer my handgun on my hip as opposed to a bulky rifle or shotgun on my shoulder. I don't want to be running back to the house for the rifle while an animal suffers or a dog-at-large threatens livestock. Most importantly, gun ownership, including handguns, is the biggest deterrent to a totalitarian government or military coup. If the neoconservatives use the next terrorist attack to set aside more of our rights, we'll eventually run out of them. I'll be thankful that our "well regulated [neighborhood citizen] militia" has a "right to bear arms" that is not "infringed." Those are quotes from the Constitution. I wish gun banners and neocons would read it and love it. Several years ago when I successfully moved to strike the gun control plank from the Democratic Party of Lane County's platform, no rural Democrats vocalized support. That wasn't surprising, because no rural Democrats were present. We certainly have been rectifying that, as our recent gains have illustrated. Nonetheless, I recently saw the gun banners' threat to rural Dems first hand, when my union Democrat mother-in-law and my Democrat farmer father-in-law were contemplating a vote for Republican Jim Talent for Missouri senator, solely because of Democrat Claire McCaskill's alleged views on gun control. Thankfully my wife talked them down. My wife practices in some of the most dangerous areas of law (child custody, divorce and termination of parental rights), and our lives have been threatened more than once. I can watch out for those people; it's the ones who don't vocalize their intentions that worry me. You are welcome to rely on the government to cover 100 percent of your life, but I plan on exercising a little personal responsibility. Going after handguns has no chance of success anyway. You would have trouble taking my handgun away, and would have zero percent chance of taking any of my neighbors' handguns. If you want to do something about handgun violence, fund crime prevention and Eddie Eagle gun safety programs at our schools, and vote Democratic (as fiscal responsibility increases, the economy improves and crime decreases). I respect Moore's opinion, and I don't find him to be a traitor or unpatriotic for it. But it is my quest to not alienate my neighbors from our party. It's sometimes tough being a Democrat outside of Eugene. However, I consistently and proudly tell my neighbors that they are wrong about Lane County Democrats being "spooky south Eugene dirty hippy wack jobs" (their words, not mine, cleaned up a bit for viewing by children) who are out to take their guns and make them drive Volvos. And then they share their venison with us. Yum. For now, I think I'm going to feed my hog, shoot my grandfather's World War II-era semi-automatic .22 pistol, drive my SUV to town, and then have a glass of pinot noir to celebrate the Kansas City Chiefs' win over the Broncos as I read the new Mother Earth News. C. Michael Arnold (mike@ arnoldlawfirm.com) is a city prosecutor, a Creswell School Board member, a Democrat, a farmer, a civil litigator and a member of the National Rifle Association.