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WBEN Commentary & Opinion

Thoughts from WBEN/WGR/WWKB Operations Manager Tim Wenger
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Want a Gun? Don't Drink and Drive!

Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard is making headlines again in the heated debate over gun ownership in New York State.  Sheriff Howard, running for re-election, has been quick to oppose the state's tough new NY SAFE ACT which restricts gun ownership in the Empire State.  Now, on WBEN's Hardline Program, Sheriff Howard is floating the idea of removing one's right to own a gun if that individual is convicted of DWI.  Sheriff Howard says the measure would target irresponsible gun ownership in suggesting, "you would temporarily or maybe permanently lose your right to possess a firearm because you have acted irresponsibly".  SO let's take a look at this 'up close'.

Should A DWI Conviction Mean You Lose Your Right to Own Guns?
Yes, at least temporarily
( 25% )
Yes, for all time
( 10% )
( 65% )
At first glance, most of those who are in favor of gun ownership and gun rights(myself included) are raising their eyebrows and saying "not a good idea".  We have a Constitutional right to bear arms and DWI or any other similar infraction shouldn't have an impact on that right.   Is speeding next?  What about texting and driving?  Those too are acts of irresponsibility and the same argument could be made.  If we're irresponsible to break those laws, should gun ownership be questioned?  Where would it stop?

But let's return to the DWI scenario.  I think it's different.  And here's why.

While there are numerous incidents of a one-time DWI chalked up by the person who got behind the wheel for the first time in their life under the influence, the statistics tell a different story.  Most who are stopped for DWI and ultimately convicted, have done the deed before.  Numerous times.  They just weren't caught.  That's certainly not responsible behavior, but furthermore, do we want guns in the hands of a portion of the population that has a high likelihood of having a problem with alcohol?  Unlike speeding or texting, alcohol impacts judgment.  Having good and rational judgment has a great deal to do with responsible use of a firearm.

Before you start to cry "liberal" on me, Because that's far from the case, just think about this a bit further.  I'm not ready to take away the right to own a gun for a DWI.  But would suspending that right to bear arms for a period of time upon a DWI conviction(and certainly repeat convictions) be such a crazy thing?

I clearly support the right to bear arms and have demonstrated a willingness to stand behind that with actions.  But I also am surrounded by gun owners who preach responsible ownership and I'm willing to discuss and leave the door open to suspending the right to gun possession from individuals who demonstrate problem drinking.

The knee-jerk response seems to be a loud scream that it's infringing on my rights.  But I question the judgment of anyone who at least won't think this through and see a connection between the dangers of holding a gun and abusing alcohol.  It's just a different weapon from the one they drove under the influence.

Let's have a discussion and see where this goes.  It certainly could have an impact on the outcome of the race for Erie County Sheriff.

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People : Tim Howard

03/11/2013 9:26AM
Want a Gun? Don't Drink and Drive!
What ado you think?
03/11/2013 10:04AM
Drunk driving
03/11/2013 12:02PM
I can see partial restriction as a reasonable consideration as to what to do to "stop DWI". I just cannot see why we don't impose maximum penalties on most or all of convictions of the offenses you were in violation of....Don't mix them. Two thoughts....Government can only attempt to solve problems, and ultimately, it just comes down to individual behavior. We just need to "clamp down" and insure the convictions are made public, in ALL cases....no exceptions.
03/11/2013 2:38PM
dwi and guns
The 2 should be mutually exclusive. Although a correlation may exist, it's not high enough for a constituional breachment. I think anyone who is an elected official or govt. paid worker should not be allowed a gun!
03/11/2013 4:02PM
Guns and DWI's
I was under the impression that if you were charged with a felony and or misdeamenor in NYS that you had to surrender your firearms until your conviction, dismissal, etc? Maybe im wrong, but i also dont believe you will get or can get a pistol permit inErie County with a DUI/DWI conviction on your record. As a pistol permit holder in Erie County i tend to lean to the Dont Drink and Drive type of mentality. This ensures my continuation of being "allowed" to carry a handgun!
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