Sep 2, 2007

Gun group advocates boycott against non-profit museum that charges no admission

Apparently, the Michigan Coalition of Responsible Gun Owners is leading a boycott against, among other places, the Monroe County Historical Museum. That’s kind of funny because, accept for the three summer months, admission to the museum located in the former post office in downtown Monroe is free.

The boycott also includes such evil places like the Renaissance Festival, the Ogemaw County Health Department in West Branch, the Ogemaw County Fair, the American Red Cross in Livonia, the Brandon Township Library, the Ferndale Public Library and even the Gibraltar Trade Center where perhaps the largest gun and knife show in the state is held every weekend. Why the boycott of these seemingly helpful places? Apparently the businesses have posted "No-Guns" signs on the premises.

I was a little surprised to see the list of boycotted businesses, but based on my pervious contact with the MCRGO I should not have been surprised. I only went to their site because I was looking for information on House Bills 4892 and 4893 that address toy or replica guns that look real. I only had a vague description of the bills, so I went there to research them, and while I was there I found the intriguing link called “places to avoid.” After looking for familiar places, like where I live in Livingston County and where I grew up in Monroe County, I came across the historical museum on the list.

My brush with - or even recognition that such as group existed - the MCRGO occurred in December of 2000. I had been covering politics in Livingston County, and for almost the past year I had been immersed up to my neck in politics, covering elections from the county commission races all the way up to the Mike Rogers/Dianne Byrum Congressional race and everything in between. Following the election, the Lame Duck Michigan Legislature passed House Bill 4530 that made Michigan a “shall issue” state for concealed weapons.

I found myself scrambling to find out what this was about because I had not heard a peep about gun control or this bill during the campaigns. What the law did was in the past, owners of handguns had to prove to local county gun boards they were worthy of a Carrying Concealed Weapon (CCW) permit, but the new law placed the burden of proof on the gun board to show why applicants should not be allowed to carry a concealed handgun.

It was while doing research that I came across the MCRGO web site. It was also my first introduction to blogging, at least quasi-blogging. They had a message board on the site, and I was surprised to read the rhetoric on the board against anyone who dared support the slightest bit of gun control on something as deadly and dangerous as a handgun. They were called everything from communists to gun grabbers. I wrote a column on both my surprise at seeing something as important as the CCW not even broached during the campaign season and the amount of heated rhetoric going on against anyone who supports any kind of gun control at all.

Because of that column, I have been forever branded as a “gun-grabber,” but I have never grabbed a gun. My military training with a .45 pistol told me that’s not a good idea. Despite numerous attempts to say otherwise, the column was accurate. It’s just amazing to me that with something that’s only function is to kill there are people out there who are against gun control for handguns.

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