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Independence Day 2019

Gun Companies our Enemy GUN CONFISCATION Presidential Election



We’re not in the holiday mode quite yet, but we’re close. Aged colleagues kid me about taking time off, calling my dedication into question. They love to remind me that early in all our careers, the thought of taking a holiday off was just that- a thought.

In newsrooms across the country, time off for anything other than a short vacation or a family emergency indicated you weren’t serious about your career. Most of us not only worked holidays, we readily volunteered to fill in for others who were taking time off. It was when I worked with one simple goal: to break a big story and using it as the ticket to my next step up the career ladder.

After childhood on horseback, I swore off horses. But my first national TV story in 1977 was, ironically enough, a horse story. Fanfreluche, a Canadian racehorse turned brood mare had disappeared from Claiborne Farms in Paris, Kentucky where she’d been successfully bred to super horse, Secretariat. Five months later, I got a call about a family in Tompkinsville, nearly 160 miles from Paris, that claimed to have found a mare, how heavily in foal, “wandering along the road” near their farm. The tip mentioned a tattooed registration number inside her upper lip. Having grown up around race horses, I knew that meant something. So I raced to Tompkinsville and discovered the tattoo matched Fanfreluche’s. I had my first big story. The next evening it was the lead story on ABC’s “World News Tonight” (although they stripped my voice off the report and had Peter Jennings read it voice over).

For me, Independence Holiday always means a reflective mood. Memories of family picnics with gallons of ice cold sweet tea, fried chicken, potato salad, corn on the cob, watermelon and a literal wagon load of desserts makes me reflective. Independence Day wasn’t the wind down of summer like it is today. It celebrated the fact we were free to take our ponies and roam the countryside from sunup to sundown without the worries of homework or other obligations. For us, school wouldn’t start until after Labor Day.

Times have changed. No one was alarmed when they saw we had bows and arrows or rifle scabbards on our saddles as we rode around the countryside. Today, admitting your parents have a gun is enough to get you tossed from the PTA.

This is still our country’s birthday weekend, but we’re looking at the fact our world may be changing even faster than we’re willing to admit.

Last week, a candidate for the highest office in the land stood on a debate stage with other candidates and declared “our enemy is the gun manufacturers, not the NRA, the gun manufacturers.” Granted, former VP Joe Biden might not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but, as the NSSF’s Joe Bartozzi points out, “not another candidate not the stage that night, or the night before, condemned the remark.”

It’s true. I’m not being political when I say the Democratic Party is gunning for the gun industry. An industry that provides more than 312,000 jobs, and has a total economic impact on our economy of $52 billion. The gun industry paid more than $6.8 billion in total taxes in 2019- and many of those tax dollars were voluntary- going to support conservation and wildlife causes across the country.

The gun industry, despite what these pandering politicians would have you believe, is not “just like the tobacco industry”. Guns aren’t the same thing as tobacco.

Anyone who tries to tell you differently is either misinformed, purposefully ignorant, or trying to score political points.

The harsh reality is this: we are, effectively, a two-party nation. One party, whether you like admitting it or not, is dedicated to disarming average citizens. Whether they’re misguided, well-meaning dunderheads or calculating politicians out to remove our ability to resist their plans to radically transform our country does not matter one bit.

What matters is that the coming election won’t be about choice, it will be about freedom. If we choose wisely, we’ll keep our freedom a bit longer. If we sit on the sidelines, we will lose. It’s like the quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin after signing the Declaration of Independence, “gentlemen, I assure you that if we don’t hang together, we will most assuredly hang separately.”

Go have a terrific Independence holiday. But while you’re enjoying the holiday- and what it stands for- consider the fact that on July 4, 2019, we may have a lot more in common with those first celebrants than we realize- or care to admit.

—Jim Shepherd

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