Pennsylvania Town Clings to Its Guns, Ousts Mayor

Family Security Matters

CHAMBERSBURG – Know your constituency. It’s the first rule of local  politics.

The second: What happens in New York City usually can only happen in New York  City, and is best kept there. Policies  that fit “The Big Apple” don’t fit a  town that is, say, known statewide  for its Apple Festival. Just ask Democrat  Pete Lagiovane, the mayor of  this Franklin County town who won’t return to  office in January. He lost  his bid for re-election – to a seat he won unopposed  the last time – in  part because he signed up Chambersburg as one of New York  Mayor Michael  Bloomberg’s anti-gun cities.

His Republican opponent, Darren Brown, said he knows one thing he’ll  do  immediately after being sworn in as mayor: “The very, very first  thing I’d like  to do is get Chambersburg off the ‘Mayors Against Illegal  Guns’ list.”

Just past the town circle, where the Molly Pitcher Highway briefly   intersects with the Lincoln Highway, a handful of men climbed out of a  shiny  black SUV with a rifle rack and walked into the Historic Texas  Lunch diner on a  frosty Saturday morning. All wore some sort of  hunter-orange apparel.

They were just a handful of the nearly 950,000 people (according to   Pennsylvania Game Commission statistics) who will hunt in the state in  coming  weeks. Theirs is a prized tradition that shares nothing with the  stereotyped  truck-driving, beer-drinking fool chasing critters for the  heck of it.

People who don’t hunt don’t understand the appeal. They don’t get why  anyone  would sit for hours in the woods or in a bog to hunt deer, bear,  elk, turkey or  duck; they don’t know how, for hunters, this is a time  to spend outdoors with  friends and family, continuing a tradition passed  down by parents, grandparents  and great-grandparents.

Almost all hunters go out because providing meat for their families is  rewarding and satisfying.

When you don’t understand people or don’t identify with them, you  tend to  mock them – which leaves the people who enjoy the hunting  tradition with family  and friends feeling more alienated by, more  disconnected from, an increasingly  urban society that is hostile to  their values and their way of life.


Many of these people feel attacked on all sides for many activities  that  they consider normal, such as hunting, going to church, flying a  flag on  holidays or every day, and wishing store clerks a “Merry  Christmas!”

So when Mayor Bloomberg brings his circus to town to build his own  fame and  to spread money around, or when Washington decides it wants to  start regulating  gun ownership with more background checks, these people  react in the only  respectful way they know: They vote out of office  those who are infringing on  their way of life.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., an avid hunter who once shot a hole  through  a copy of the “cap and trade” bill for a TV political  advertisement,  understands why people reacted so overwhelmingly against  legislation he  cosponsored with Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., that would have  expanded background  checks before gun sales.

“Look, people outside of Washington look at all of the spying with  the NSA  and problems with the IRS they see coming out of D.C., and they  just don’t  trust the government,” he said. “I understand that, they just  don’t want any  more interference.”

In 1999 the National Rifle Association put its stamp of approval on   universal background checks following the Columbine High School  slaughter.  Today the NRA, along with conservative Democrats and  Republicans, opposes such  checks as placing unforeseen burdens on gun  owners and endangering Second  Amendment rights.

Chambersburg Mayor-elect Brown said his decision to run for office  was made  with the same seriousness as when he decided to enlist in the  Army in 2004: “I  spent a lot of time learning about local offices and  government … took a look  at our current mayor, and thought the people  of this town should have a mayor  that reflects their views.”

Brown said a mayor should focus on such issues as curbing crime and  drugs,  or keeping the sidewalks clean – not on the issues of outside  groups that don’t  understand a town’s way of life.

All politics really is local.

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