Sights and smells of home

Rome News-Tribune - - EDITORIALS AND OPINION -

From The Los An­ge­les Times

or a few days af­ter the Las Ve­gas sniper at­tack, it seemed as if Congress might ac­tu­ally move to ban the de­vice known as the “bump stock,” which the gun­man used to con­vert his semi­au­to­matic ri­fles into, es­sen­tially, ma­chine guns that could fire 90 shots in 10 sec­onds into a crowded mu­sic fes­ti­val. That mo­ment — like so many be­fore it — seems to have passed. So what gun pol­icy mea­sure are law­mak­ers dis­cussing in Congress th­ese days? An ab­surd yet dan­ger­ous pro­posal that would dras­ti­cally un­der­cut states’ abil­i­ties to set rea­son­able rules about who gets to carry a weapon.

The pro­posed fed­eral law, the so-called Con­cealed Carry Re­ciproc­ity Act of 2017, would re­quire any state that is­sues per­mits for car­ry­ing con­cealed weapons to rec­og­nize con­cealed-carry per­mits is­sued by other states — even if those states have dif­fer­ent el­i­gi­bil­ity and train­ing re­quire­ments and less strin­gent re­stric­tions on gun own­er­ship. In the House, the mea­sure has picked up 212 co-spon­sors (in­clud­ing three Democrats); a com­pan­ion Se­nate bill has 38 co-spon­sors, sig­nal­ing sig­nif­i­cant sup­port.

The NRA has made pass­ing the re­ciproc­ity bill its leg­isla­tive pri­or­ity for this ses­sion. The rest of the na­tion should make it a pri­or­ity to stop this mad­ness. It is lit­tle more than cyn­i­cal games­man­ship by the NRA and its mar­tinets in Congress. It needs to be shot down.

Pro­po­nents of the bill ar­gue that a per­mit to carry a con­cealed weapon is sim­i­lar to a driver’s li­cense and should be rec­og­nized na­tion­wide. But that’s cooked-up logic. States ob­serve sim­i­lar traf­fic laws and train­ing re­quire­ments be­fore is­su­ing driver’s li­censes. That’s not so with guns. In fact, a dozen states put no re­stric­tions at all on who gets to carry a con­cealed firearm so long as peo­ple meet min­i­mal fed­eral qual­i­fi­ca­tions for be­ing able to buy a gun. Other states should not be forced to live un­der such loose rules if they don’t be­lieve those rules to be safe.

Given the Repub­li­cans’ his­toric sup­port of states’ rights, it’s a bit rich that they are now seek­ing a fed­eral law to trump state laws on some­thing so cru­cial to pub­lic safety as gun own­er­ship, We hope mem­bers of Congress have closely read the stud­ies that have found that states with the most-re­laxed gun-con­trol laws tend to have higher rates of gun deaths than states with tighter con­trols.

The con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of a gun re­ciproc­ity law is un­clear. If states have a right to de­ter­mine who may carry a gun — which the courts have rec­og­nized — then is Congress within its rights to let the NRA in through the back door? In any case, such an ap­proach is, as we have ar­gued be­fore, a race to the bot­tom, in which the least re­stric­tive state laws will be the ones that gov­ern the whole coun­try.

Pre­vi­ous ver­sions of this gun-lover’s pipe dream have stalled in Congress, but with the Repub­li­cans now in con­trol of both houses and the White House — and with the sup­port of gun­friendly Democrats — there is a very real chance this reck­less bill might ac­tu­ally get some­where. Gun-con­trol groups have been ac­tively try­ing to stir up op­po­si­tion, and a group of 17 Demo­cratic at­tor­neys gen­eral — in­clud­ing Cal­i­for­nia’s Xavier Be­cerra — sent a let­ter to con­gres­sional lead­ers over the week­end urg­ing them to block the “ill-con­ceived bills that would over­ride lo­cal pub­lic safety de­ci­sions and en­dan­ger our com­mu­ni­ties and law en­force­ment of­fi­cers.”

There is no rea­son for this law to ex­ist other than to feed the fan­tasy that an even more heav­ily armed na­tion would be a safer na­tion.

That is sim­ply un­true. Congress would bet­ter serve the na­tion’s pub­lic health and safety by ig­nor­ing this bit of leg­isla­tive sub­terfuge and fo­cus­ing its at­ten­tion in­stead on fix­ing the fed­eral law that al­lowed the Las Ve­gas shooter to con­vert a firearm that ought to be banned into one that al­ready has been.

At the risk of the Waf­fle House or­ga­ni­za­tion ac­cus­ing the Rome News-Tri­bune of col­lu­sion, I am of­fer­ing a col­umn to­day on this famed pur­veyor of ba­con and other break­fast/hang­over prod­ucts.

My friend in newsprint, Severo Avila, re­cently placed a ter­rific col­umn in this space on the Waf­fle House world, and now I add my own nar­ra­tive, al­beit with a western flair.

Re­cently the bride asked me if I wanted to ac­com­pany her to one of her many meet­ings in Al­bu­querque where she rep­re­sents The Univer­sity of New Mex­ico — Va­len­cia as Dean of In­struc­tion. I like to tag along, and while she is sit­ting at a large ta­ble dis­cussing aca­demic mat­ters with col­leagues in sturdy shoes, I roam around and see what trou­ble I can get in to.

The meet­ing was held at a gov­ern­ment build­ing quite near the Al­bu­querque air­port, only they don’t call it the air­port. It is called The Sun­port. See, we have a ton of sun­shine here, and well, you ar­rive at the port to the … oh well, you get it.

One day I am go­ing to write a col­umn on the street names in Al­bu­querque, but not to­day. Let me just say we turned south on Yale and I al­most im­me­di­ately drove the truck into a traf­fic me­dian.

Like the bi­b­li­cal burn­ing bush of old, there it stood in its black and yel­low fin­ery. “Waf­fle House.”

With great an­tic­i­pa­tion, I re­turned sev­eral days later and pulled into the park­ing lot. There were a few cars in the lot, so that bode well for a prime seat­ing spot in the restau­rant.

At this point, I have to say that I was ner­vous. Would they know me as a reg­u­lar cus­tomer for decades? Would they sense a south­erner’s kin­ship with this palace of cof­fee and waf­fles? I pushed the fa­mil­iar door open and im­me­di­ately I was con­fronted with one of the most rec­og­niz­able smells on earth. No place has the fra­grance of a Waf­fle House.

I spot­ted a chair at one of the lower coun­ters and sat down. I was im­me­di­ately greeted and I placed an or­der for a cof­fee in that most fa­mil­iar ce­ramic cup. The hot cof­fee tasted just like the gen­tle bev­er­age at my old haunt,

Email let­ters to the ed­i­tor to rome­new­stri­ or sub­mit them to the Rome News-Tri­bune, 305 E. Sixth Ave., Rome, GA 30162. Rome’s Chulio Road. At any mo­ment I ex­pected any num­ber of old Rome friends to pile into the restau­rant and fill me in on the lat­est Floyd County news.

I or­dered, and yes, I ut­tered a phrase I have not said since I moved to New Mex­ico: “Scat­tered, smoth­ered and cov­ered.” Whether the food prod­uct or the name of my leg­endary band fea­tur­ing the great John Schroeder on drums and Roger Dees on gui­tar, that phrase bub­bles up from the best parts of me and strikes my brain’s plea­sure cen­ter.

I pol­ished off my break­fast (How do they get the ba­con strips SO thin?), and asked for my dessert. “Do you have ap­ple but­ter?” I in­quired. She looked at me as if I had ut­tered the dumbest ques­tion on earth. Two pack­ets slid my way and my toast fla­vor pro­file was com­plete. Ex­actly the same as Rome, Geor­gia, you ask? OK, there was one big dif­fer­ence, and you may have seen this com­ing. In­stead of the honey dipped South­ern ac­cents of a great Geor­gia Waf­fle House staff (see Severo Avila’s re­cent col­umn), the ac­cents I heard in the Al­bu­querque Waf­fle House had a dis­tinct His­panic/New Mex­i­can lilt. I am so used to New Mex­ico in­flec­tions, I hardly no­tice any­more, but this was a change in am­biance that I had not an­tic­i­pated.

What an in­ter­est­ing change in the nor­mal sounds of a Waf­fle House. The com­mon Waf­fle House words were all there, but they were all doused in a good acous­tic serv­ing of New Mex­ico green chile.

I have es­tab­lished my lo­cal break­fast haunts by now. I have found two of the finest edi­tions of huevos rancheros on the planet in my own Va­len­cia County, New Mex­ico.

How­ever, if I need a dose of Geor­gia, I now have a place to go. Smell, taste and sound. Two out of three ain’t bad, I say.

Next time I am hit­ting the Waf­fle House juke­box. Maybe Severo will fly out and we’ll do a dou­ble col­umn. There’s an idea, I say. HARRY MUS­SEL­WHITE

Let­ters to the ed­i­tor: Ro­man Fo­rum, Post Of­fice Box 1633, Rome, GA 30162-1633 or email rome­new­stri­

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