Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Metal detectors or restricted access? How about fewer guns instead

The senseless murder of William Wozniak, an Illinois Capitol guard, should not lead to metal detectors or restricted public access to the Capitol. The alleged murderer, Derek Potts, walked up to the entrance with a shotgun or a rifle and shot Wozniak at point-blank range. From early reports, no change in the public access of the People's House would have prevented Mr. Wozniak's death.

What might have prevented his death would be reasonable restrictions on owning guns. Why we permit anyone to go and buy a shotgun is beyond me. My view of the Second Amendment is that our ability to form militias -- well-armed militias at that -- shall never be restricted by the government.

The more we seal off our own government from the public, the less invested and engaged the public feels. There's something so nice and humbling about a late session day when tons of school children crowd the Capitol and mix with citizens of all stripes looking to improve our laws while the lawmakers navigate their way through the throng. It feels like accessible democracy. We shouldn't sacrifice that spirit.

Armed guards put a palpable chill on our civic culture. They intimidate citizens into feeling like we simply follow the orders of authority. We need more citizens and fewer followers, especially around the Capitol.

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