If anyone ever doubts just how big a challenge it will ever be in the United States to make even slight adjustments to gun laws, it's time to listen for a moment to Jeff Wardlaw.
Not many Arkansans will necessarily know Wardlaw. He's a state legislator from Hermitage, a Bradley County town of around 800 people. The county's big town is Warren, which a lot more people are aware of just because they have an occasional hankering for tomatoes.
Wardlaw was the sponsor of House Bill 1957 in the recent shenanigans in Little Rock commonly referred to as the Arkansas General Assembly. His was a compromise bill responding to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's earlier veto of the "Arkansas Sovereignty Act of 2021." Wardlaw's version would invalidate only future federal laws that, in the eyes of the Legislature, infringe upon the Second Amendment's right to bear arms.
Somehow, the folks in Little Rock have become convinced that negating future federal laws is within their power, all because of the so-far unrealized fears that a Democrat in the White House translates into the probability of door-to-door searches for individually owned guns of every kind. So HB 1957 simply declares them "null and void." Isn't that handy?
It was in the debate over the bill that Wardlaw's defense of it brought into clear focus the challenge of any political response to such concerns as mass shootings.
"There is nothing I care about more -- other than my family, God and Jesus -- than my guns," Wardlaw told fellow lawmakers.
A bumper sticker with that on it would sell like hotcakes. But perhaps not quite as fast as the latest firearm.
Now, it's pretty safe to say that Wardlaw doesn't want another school shot up or another office to lose its staff to a disgruntled former colleague. But that comment says a lot about why it's so hard in this country to bridge the gap between those who love their guns and those who recognize how difficult it is to pursue peace, freedom and happiness when there's a constant threat of armed conflict just when someone goes to the grocery store.
When a lawmaker or anyone else puts guns in the same classification at his family and faith, it's hard to even imagine a potentially successful approach to eliminate the deadly violence this nation experiences every day because disturbed individuals have access to killing machines.
It's not just about guns. They don't pull their own triggers. But ignoring the easy availability of guns as part of the problem is naive, too.
Guns, family and Jesus? God help us.
What’s the point?
A lawmaker’s recent comment about guns reflects the difficulties of making progress on a reduction of violence.