04/03/2009 04:29 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Pro-Gun Comments On Huffington Post Show Wide Gulf

Here's an actual exchange from the "comments" section of a recent HuffPost entry about guns (monikers mine):

Gun Obsessive: You do understand, I hope, that shotguns have a very limited range?

Not Gun Obsessive: I understand that if shotgun pellets are continuously being found in your backyard that those guns were being fired too darned close to the backyard.

Gun Obsessive: Just because they might be found in your backyard does not mean they are able to cause injury.

This back-and-forth shows a sharp distinction. First, there's the modern gun obsessive, a decided minority who believe their rights trump damn near all else. Then there's the rest of us who know better, whether or not we own a firearm.

I say "modern" gun obsessive because this wasn't the view a generation or two ago. My parents grew up on a small-town farm. One could literally hunt quail out the back door. The absolute rule of thumb, laid down by adults, was that if shotgun pellets rained down anywhere near the house, someone was sure to meet the business end of a hickory switch.

Today, the gun obsessive seeks to justify an expansion of their reach: "Just because they might be found in your backyard does not mean they are able to cause injury."

This is a change, culturally, from the past. It illustrates a lessening of safety, values and respect for others.

Another HuffPost exchange concerned a controversial bill pending in the Texas legislature. As things now stand, if law enforcement pulls you over (at say, 2:00 AM after a night of drinking), and you have a permit to carry a concealed weapon and are packing heat at that moment, you're required to show the officer the permit. This way, he/she can at least know the potential of the situation on their hands.

The new legislation, strongly supported by the Texas State Rifle Association (a wing of the NRA), will remove the requirement. This means the citizen can keep this information a secret from the officer. Many in the "protect and serve" community consider this change misguided, or worse.

One commenter agrees that a permit holder should remain obligated to inform the officer, for safety's sake:

Not Gun Obsessive: You're not opposed to that, are you?

Gun Obsessive: I'm not opposed to it or in favor of it. It's just something that's completely pointless and runs the risk of creating a false sense of security where officers can get hurt.

Get that? The logic is that knowledge somehow places an officer in greater danger. The poor cop, according to this reasoning, is better off not knowing if a loaded gun is in the car, even legally. In fact, all laws are written with an acknowledgement that even the law-abiding can -- and do -- go off the rails.

The so-called gun enthusiast adds that "the truly dangerous people aren't exactly going to be forthcoming with a permit or even have a permit."

In other words, because a criminal with an illegal firearm will certainly keep the police in the dark, a permit holder should therefore be allowed to do likewise?

This makes no sense, and reflects muddled thinking. Fortunately, there's some consolation.

It comes from Antonin Scalia, the conservative Supreme Court justice who wrote the 5-4 majority decision last June declaring the Second Amendment an individual right. He pointedly added this in his opinion:

"It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.....The court's opinion 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."

Thank goodness for that morsel of sanity. It shows a recognition that guns kill anywhere and in anyone's hand (and from Scalia, no less, who probably needed it to get Justice Kennedy's fifth vote).

Due to easy access, the United States has by far the highest rate of gun deaths -- murders, suicides and accidents -- among the world's 36 richest nations, according to our own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This study has been widely known for 10 years.

No American should be proud of such a statistic. From shotgun pellets landing in the backyard while the children play, to the latest tragedy in Binghamton, New York, things ain't that pretty at all, as they say.