Sights and smells of home
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 romenewstribune@RN-T.com 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 romenewstribune@RN-T.com