Nothing will spoil a party or a family gathering faster than a discussion over gun control.
When you think about it, though, it really is a silly issue to get so heated over. Most people agree to some kind of control over arms. Really, they do.
Even the “f— your feelings” crowd driving around with “Let’s Go Brandon” flags on their trucks agree with some kind of arms control.
If they say they do not, then ask them if they think Kim Jong-un should have a nuclear weapon. (Click here for the podcast version of this column.)
But it gets simpler than that. Most of us have at least one neighbor whose right to bear arms we would really like to infringe upon.
Everybody has at least one neighbor who is a few cards short of a full deck and think, “Boy, am I glad he doesn’t have an Uzi.”
Actually, it goes even further than that. We all have a neighbor or two whose right to drive an automobile we would like to strip away.
The idiot does not seem to understand a speed limit, stop sign or turn signal.
When it comes to the Second Amendment, though, we fight about gun control, even if most of us agree to some kind of limitations. We just differ on where to draw the line.
Granted, that can be a big distinction for some of us.
Butte Central graduate Rob O’Neill is an ardent supporter of the Second Amendment, but he knows that we have to draw the line somewhere.
Recently on his podcast, The Operator, which I highly recommend, Rob said that he is in favor of anyone, in sound mind, owning any weapon he or she wants up to a flamethrower.
The key is “in sound mind.”
I am a person who battles depression, and I would not be alive if my family owned a gun when I was in junior high or high school. So, I will never own a gun.
But I really want a flame thrower.
How awesome would that be? Taking a flamethrower to the sidewalk would beat the heck out of shoveling all that snow.
Rob, though, does not think I should have one. The lefty pinko.
We agree that there should be some level of arms control, though I apparently draw the line one weapon down from the great Navy SEAL legend.
I have never been a huge proponent of overly-strict gun control because I know the bad guys will still get the guns. At least that is what they tell us.
Registration of guns — so we can live up to that often-ignored “well-regulated” part of the Second Amendment — is a different story.
We should also have sound background checks and some red-flag laws. If a mother calls the cops to report that her mentally-ill son is threatening to shoot up a school, we should have multiple levels of law enforcement check that guy out.
Most sane people would agree with that.
Do you want the guy walking down the street arguing with himself to possess an AR-15?
We also do not want a guy who beat up his wife buying a gun so he can finish the job.
O’Neill says I should not have a flamethrower, and I’m sure the fire department would agree with him.
So, we can assume that I should also not own a tank. That is an “arm” that could be even more deadly than a flamethrower.
I can barely handle the responsibility of owning a baseball bat, so we should all agree that I should not be driving a tank and carrying a flamethrower.
We should also agree that we do not want that one crazy neighbor to have those, either.
I definitely have some neighbors who should NOT be allowed anywhere near a tank. I live down the street from a couple of families involved in a full-blown feud.
It is a Hatfield vs. McCoy level feud that has the police, animal control or the parking commission on my block pretty much every week.
Ask any police officer in town, and he will tell you he knows the feud of which I write.
The feud, which apparently started over a parking space eight or nine years ago, really escalated over the summer. It got to the point that it has the entire block convinced that it will one day result in bloodshed.
On the north side of the street, we have a woman and her live-in boyfriend. One of the neutral neighbors calls them “Jethro Bodine and the Roller Derby Queen.”
Jethro from The Beverly Hillbillies, though, is much more personable.
Directly across the street, we have a family that, at any given time, might have 10 people living there. They fight with Jethro and the Queen.
Now, I hate to pick sides in the feud, but I tend to lean toward the large family on the south side of the street. I would probably cheer for the White Sox over the Cubs if I lived in Chicago, too.
The family is full of very friendly people. Jethro and the Queen, on the other hand, are not.
That is fine because most people would prefer a neighbor who did not talk to you.
While they might be more friendly, the southside family is hardly innocent in this dispute. For months, they had a big sign on top of their house that was aimed at the Queen. It said something like “Go f— yourself, Karen.”
Not exactly and olive branch.
The matriarch of that family was also arrested for, allegedly, going down the alley behind Jethro and the Queen’s house and intentionally running into their shed.
She denies the accusation, but the police sided with Jethro and the Queen that night.
One other night, I saw the Queen walk out her front door and aim a firework at her feuding neighbors.
The family called the police after the firework, which was lit before the legal firework period surrounding the Fourth of July set in, resulted in six to eight large explosions just above the family’s roof.
After the police showed up, talked to both parties and left, a small four-wheeler that I saw a few days earlier at Jethro and the Queen’s house, drove by and threw an M-80 at the family’s car.
A night later, the Queen again shot off a firework above the family’s home. This time, she ran inside and turned off the lights after the explosions.
When the police knocked on her door, she did not answer.
Amazingly, that worked. After they knocked for a few minutes, the police left — even though they knew she was inside.
Try that next time you have a noise complaint. I dare you.
Both parties own their houses, and both like to gather in front of their houses. Neither side is going to back down.
Even on summer nights when the cops are not involved, the conversation is very hostile. With each day, the hatred grows, and many fear that this feud might someday end in some real violence.
Oh, and the assumption is that both sides are armed, and that cannot make anybody in the neighborhood feel exactly safe.
This could be one case where a red-flag law could come in handy.
Now, I am not advocating infringing on anybody’s constitutional rights.
But I am going to be really nervous if I see one of those neighbors suddenly driving a tank.
— Bill Foley, who would look like Michael Dukakis in a tank, can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74.