Tuesday, April 11, 2017

TOP STORY >> Speaker: Guns critical

Leader staff writer

Fear is what drives challenges to the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which gives people the right to keep and bear arms, Col. Dennis Humphrey said at the Lonoke County Republican’s Lincoln Day Dinner on Saturday at the Cabot Freshman Academy School.

Humphrey commands the Arkansas Army National Guard Marksmanship Training Center at Camp Robinson. He is an Army and National Guard veteran with 26 years of service with two tours in Iraq. He is also an English professor at Arkansas State University-Beebe.

“The reason people have the right to keep and bear arms is to keep their own government from becoming abusive. Second Amendment supporters must educate people not be scared of guns and act responsibly with them. It is not something that can’t be taken away. If you frighten them enough, they might get enough supporters to do it,” Humphrey warned.

“All it takes is the reshuffling of the Supreme Court and things can change. If enough people in America decide ‘we don’t want this anymore,’ they can pass a Constitutional amendment that would repeal the Second Amendment,” Humphrey said.

He pointed to the 18th Amendment, which prohibited alcohol but was repealed 13 years later with the 21st Amendment.

“The people on the other side of the issue are motivated by fear. They are scared people have the right to keep and bear arms. It saddens me. They seem more afraid of the guns than the people carrying them,” Humphrey said.

“Never under estimate the power of frightened people. If they are scared enough and there are enough of them they can go after that right. There are people scared on our side of the issue, too,” Humphrey continued.

He talked about what happened after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., where 20 students and six adults were murdered.

“The next day the gun stores looked like a bread aisle after an ice storm forecast. You could not find a box of .22-caliber shells. There were people secretly calling Walmart to find out when the next truck was coming in. People were afraid if they waited one more day, they would not get any. They were sure President Obama was going to ban guns. They were buying everything off the shelves,” Humphrey said.

Gun-rights supporters have to manage their fears, because acting emotionally escalates the fears of opponents.

“What we can’t let happen is the scale tip the other direction,” he said.

Humphrey said the ability to carry a concealed handgun on college campuses was fought hard by colleges around the state. Schools did not want to allow it, and the legislature took it out of their hands.

The new law requires up to eight hours of active-shooter training for a person with a concealed handgun license who is 21 years old or older to be able to carry a handgun on state college campuses, bars and government buildings.

The law takes effect Sept. 15. State Police have until January to develop training guidelines.

“Do you think it is going to be very long before someone challenges the fact you have to take a course to do it? Do any of other Constitutional rights need a course to enjoy?” Humphrey said.

“I’ve been asked, since the law has been passed, ‘Are you going to carry?’ Why would I volunteer to be the only person on campus that I knew didn’t have a gun?”

People asked him what he would do if a shooter comes into a room. “The first thing I’m going to do, knowing potentially everybody in the room is armed, is I’m going to hit the floor, because the initial crossfire is going to intense,” he said.