Sunday, December 2, 2007

Maryland as a Why to my Where

My Buddy the Gun Enthusiast harangues me for living in Maryland, where the regulatory environment with regard to firearms is a bit more… stringent? Shall we say? Certainly compared to Virginia.

Though there has been some rumblings in Virginia for more restrictive firearm infringements. It’s a funny state. There are tax-increasing pro-gun conservative republicans in the State House there, and Democrats in the suburbs of DC run against them with commercials attacking them on being pro-tax and pro-gun. Sometimes Virginia is like Bizarro World. Up is Down! Hot is Cold! State Democrat party members are Capitalist!

Anyhoo. Maryland. Let me explain MD political landscape for those of you not from around here.

There are 4 real regions:

The Eastern Shore, which former Governor Shaefer famously dismissed as the Poop-House Side of Maryland in the 1980s. Only he didn’t say poop. It is historically rural and sparsely populated. Though Yuppy type people are moving there and building ginormous homes in extended commuter range. They move out there for the bucolic vibe, and immediately ruin said vibe by their very suburban presence. Fortunately its a huge area and it will take a while to ruin it with yuppies. The very southern tip of the Western Shore has the same rural vibe with the same slow encroachment of the exhurbs of DC. A bit of the Eastern Shore is in the orbit of the more urban Wilmington Delaware. The Eastern shore is generally conservative, politically and was very Methodist for a long long time, though the energy of that faith has faded a bit, to be replaced by some of the recently resurgent fundamentalist sects. The area is as flat as Texas and the nice thing to look at is the Bay and its tributaries. There was, and still is, a lot of enthusiastic waterfowl hunters all over. The open farm fields and sporadic forest cover make for good deer hunting too. If you didn’t move to the Eastern Shore from the closer in suburbs you probably have little problem with hunting and the shooting sports.

The Western Panhandle, This region is also rural in flavor, but more Appalachian in flavor. It has some faded rust belt industries, often connected to the B&O railroads. It used to include Frederick City, back when a commute from Frederick to Baltimore or DC was considered impractical, but now people are increasingly making such a hellish long commute. From Frederick and even from higher up the pan-handle… from Hagerstown. Why? For cheaper homes. So Frederick and it’s surrounds are just becoming part of the megalopolis of the Balt/DC exhurbs. But most of this part of this region is deer hunting WITH rifle territory, so the shooting sports is also well received here. It is generally conservative, politically, with some residual Democrats left over from when there was more industry and unions. These Dems are more Blue Dog than not. THIS part of the state actually has a bit of a limit on how many deer you can harvest in season. There is enough hunting in the panhandle that
whitetail aren’t the nuisance they are in suburbs, reproducing unchecked among the mini-vans.

Baltimore, The City that Reads, (changed by some jokers to the City that Bleeds) Baltimore is a rustbelt city, fading industry, port services and the like. It has "fading city problems" that you see in lots of declining urban areas, and always seems to be on the cusp of turning it around. It’s big problem is heroine, while DC was more a crack town. And I’m sure the two rural parts of the state are awash in Oxycontin and Meth-Amphetamines. Well not away in heroine here and meth there, but… you know what I mean. Anyway, it’s a city and it’s the big concentration of population in MD, so it is the powerhouse, politically. It’s Liberal in political outlook and practially a machine-run town. When Shaefer was elected governor out of the Mayor’s office, they didn’t call him the Governor of Maryland, they called him the Governor of Baltimore, because it seemed like he paid little or no attention to the rest of the state. Why should he? He could control the state from that one big constituency, vote-wise. And he did. There are standard city problems with violent crime and for a while Baltimore vied with DC and Detroit for being the murder capital of the country. This large behemoth of a city is, naturally, anti-gun. Current governor is Martin O’Malley, is VERY anti-gun and was also… SURPISE!… mayor before going to the Statehouse.

DC Suburbs, MY area. Where I grew up. Relatively wealthy part of the state from the thriving industry in the local urban center. DC is a company town. It has one real industry. Government. Tourism is a distant second. And unlike a fading fishery, or loss of steel mills and canneries, or diverted port traffic to more convenient areas, the Industry in DC has been growing very steadily since the Roosevelt administration. There are government workers… a steady middle class, and the more wealthy government contractors and the even more wealthy law-degreed lobbiest types. This part of Maryland is a huge revenue source. But the votes in Baltimore get the spending to happen in Baltimore, so there is a bit of resentment over that. Recent political developments… the Baltimore city population has shrunk, and the suburbs have grown. The DC suburbs grow almost uninterrupted into the Baltimore suburbs at this point. So now the suburbs are starting to flex more political muscle.
The previous governor, Ehrlich, could never have been elected against the Baltimore Democrat machine if it weren’t for the suburbs growing tired of sending their tax money to a crumbling city, allying with the more conservative rural parts of the city. Ehrlich was the first Republican elected since Agnew in the 60s. The DC suburbs are generally "limousine liberal" types. They only get pro-gun AFTER they’ve been mugged. Soccer moms don’t like guns. Half the lobbiests in the area are Democrat, they don’t like guns. Yuppies don’t like guns on anyone but their guards and the police they summon to protect them.

Now, all of these descriptions, are, obviously, gross generalizations, but it is a generalization you can live with. Yes there are Hippy-Commies deep in the panhandle on a 250 acre spread past Cumberland, and there is pro-life gun-enthusiasts in a row house near Baltimore harbor that thinks Reagan went a BIT too easy on the Russians, I’m sure. But the rule of thumb is the rule of thumb. Generally true, and less precise.

Now, for Firearm-Specific Maryland politics…

Summary: Maryland is majority liberal Democrat because of the 2 major liberal suburban/urban areas. Maryland doesn’t like guns.

Long Story:

Maryland is one of the Seven Sisters. The 7 states with the most egregious restrictions on the first civil right, the right to keep and bear arm to protect yourself and your country’s liberty. They are, Maryland, Massachusetts, California, the District of Columbia, New York, Illinois, and New Jersey. Anyway, they are all states (or a quasi-state like DC) that have a massive political influence from major metropolitan areas, and major metropolitan areas, that are not inundated with fundamentalist Christians with THEIR subsequent outlook (see Salt Lake, Dallas, etc.), tend to be dominated by Leftist/Liberals.

Have you noticed that? A state like Wyoming or Idaho, with no HUGE metropolis to push it Left, never has gun control threats, while recently Pennsylvania HAS been seeing runs at it’s citizen’s rights because of politicians from Philadelphia. But it’s a big state with a lot of "Rest of The State" to balance the population from the cities. So Detroit or Seattle may want more gun control thanks to their political leanings, but Michigan has a lot more to it, and so does Washington. There is a lot of "Rest of The State" in California and New York and Illinois, but the megalopolis’ there are enough to overwhelm the ballot box.

Why, deep down, do the urban areas vote for gun control? Honestly and without just flying to "Well them Leftist Pinkos are just ornery cuss’ that want to enslave me." Without assigning them evil intent, I’d say the reason is fear. And not from law abiding bubbas rising up and marching on the cities. Crime is bad in the cities. People are murdered there by guns. The easiest reaction is to try to get rid of the guns, and they are unwilling to try to dislodge the crime. Stopping the crime is harder and it is easier to appear to be doing something by banning the guns. If it doesn’t impact the crime they can say they tried.

We know, from bitter experience, that this ‘try’ is ineffective at curbing crime, that it is mere symbolism, and that all it does is perturb the law abiding. And more recently effective measure to actually CURB crime have been tried and they have succeeded. Rudy Guiliani is pro gun control, but while mayor there was no further restrictions on gun ownership. That remained static. But crime plummeted by other means implemented by the mayor. Other areas where his method has been tried have also born fruit. So now there is actually a crime reduction method that has nothing to do with gun control. As that method is stumbled upon by other jurisdictions the clamoring to "Do SOMETHING!" about urban crime will have another remedy apart from gun-control.

My hope is someone will have the will to do this in Baltimore. And DC. It would be a boon to the whole state, as it has been a boon to NYC.

There is reason for hope in Maryland. The uber-Leftist Martin O’Malley, our too-Hip-for-school governor vetoed a bill that would allow MD cops to sell their old weapons to Beretta when they upgraded their sidearms. O’Malley had the Liberal notion that this would put used guns on the street in the hands of law abiding, and didn’t like that. But he was overwhelmed with a unanimous override of his veto, partly because of gun rights but mainly because he called the legislature back into special session to solve a deficit problem, and the lawmakers were in no mood to go along with political hay-making when they were working overtime to find more money and selling used guns to a reputable gun maker for re-hab and resale actually saves the state some money.

That is a HUGE win. In this state, at least.

There is hope. Maybe some Democrat will attack crime in Baltimore or DC the way mayor Guiliani did. Maybe the Supreme Court will rule on Heller in such a way that there will be a sea change in the District. Maybe, after a few stumbles, the GOP will be resurgent and there will be more of a two party system in Maryland instead of the current One Party Rule. There are grassroots efforts to liberalize Maryland’s very restrictive concealed-carry laws from May-Issue to Shall-Issue. But it will be a while. DC might actually have its own gun store and a Shall-Issue law before Maryland loosens its tyranny. Heck it has to be turning around. I joined the NRA. Armed Canadian moved here and will be voting in 2 years. That's 2 more voters...

MBtGE has lived in multiple places, so his attachment to any one place is more tenuous.
So why do I live here? Because it’s my home. I’ve lived here all my life. Perhaps I can change it from the inside. Shift the gun laws by supporting those that try to breath some sanity to the overly restrictive. If I leave it’s a bit more surrender to the people that are afraid when someone other than the gov’t has power, either from money or from the bility to effectively protect themselves.

I bet it’s why
Jay G of Marooned lives in Massachusetts. It's his home. And MA has MUCH worse gun control tyranny than MD. MBtGE has lived in multiple places, so his attachment to any one place is more tenuous. So he can live in Virginia and criticize me for living in Maryland. I'd consider living in VA if they actually had a rational ROAD SYSTEM there. And stay out of the left lane, Virginia Drivers, when you are in Maryland. We like to go faster than the 54 or 55 that you prefer.

When we look for land to buy for hunting purposes, the MBtGE and I, we look to the Northwest of the DC, to be convenient for both of us. I love the area around Hancock, the narrowest part of MD. MBtGE does too, as long as it isn’t IN Maryland. He refused to buy property in an area that doesn’t trust him to carry a concealed handgun. And I can understand that attitude. He has a license for Virginia, WVa, and Pennsylvania. We’ll buy a place to shoot deer and camp in one of those states.
Or he up and will and I'll just glom on. Though I'd rather not. I'm hoping we find adjacent lots.

1 comment:

Jay G said...

"I bet it’s why Jay G of Marooned lives in Massachusetts. It's his home."

I like to say that. I mean, I built my house on the land that my great-grandfather purchased not long after coming to America. It passed down to my grandfather, who gave me my name, who passed my lot to me.

I was born in this town. I grew up here. I went to school with the local cops and firefighters and selectmen. My son's first grade teacher is the daugher of my third grade teacher.

And yet, if Mrs. G. were to come up to me tomorrow and say, "Screw it. Let's move to NH", there would be a for-sale sign on my lawn before the "H" left her lips...