I have two confessions to make.
The first is this: I don’t own a gun. I have fired one, and hit both of the clay pigeons that were tossed into the air for target practice. But I’ve never purchased one for home use.
And with good reason. I have not been trained in the proper use of firearms, I don’t have adequate excess income for such implements of destruction, and I have small children at home and don’t want to take a chance that one of them will get hurt.
Yes, I realize I have a right to keep and bear arms. I just choose not to do so.
Second Amendment rights
I respect the people I know who own firearms and feel strong commitments to ensuring no one tramples their Second Amendment rights. I also respect the people I know who do not own firearms and feel strong commitments to fighting their proliferation.
I don’t chastise friends and family members who keep rifles or handguns in their homes.
They don’t chastise me for my decision.
They don’t demand I move to Canada.
And they never imply that my refusal to buy a shotgun means I can’t complain when burglars ransack my possessions. (Note to crooks: Like most other lowly newspaper reporters, I own nothing worth ransacking, so don’t get any ideas.)
We’re all on the same page so far, right?
People don’t exercise all of their constitutional rights on a regular basis — think about how many times in the past month you have peaceably assembled or petitioned the government for a redress of grievances.
But they still have those rights, thanks to that whole Revolutionary War thing and our Founding Fathers and the Bill of Rights and citizenship and all that patriotic rah-rah America stuff. Not to mention the greatest military force on the planet and the men and women who put their lives on the line for the rest of us everyday.
Now, one right I do exercise on a near-daily basis is found in the First Amendment, as a member of a free press. I take that responsibility seriously — so seriously that, for the past 17 years, I have refrained from participating in any election.
That’s my other confession: I don’t vote.
I also don’t give to political campaigns or put candidates’ bumper stickers on my mini-van or signs in my yard. And I don’t sign candidate or issue-related petitions.
I choose not to take sides. It’s a position I adopted when I joined the full-time ranks of the Fourth Estate.
Heated election season
I point this out on a regular basis to anyone who asks me and to my readers every couple of years, usually during the heated election season.
I don’t chastise other reporters for favoring one candidate over another.
They and most of the people I talk to face to face don’t chastise me for my decision not to.
That said, early voting started last week. You, the voting public, don’t have many excuses for not visiting the polls between now and Nov. 2.
Unless you’re like me and have a good reason for refraining.
In which case I won’t be telling you to move to Canada or that, by not voting, you’ve given up your First Amendment right to complain about the powers that be.
Hopefully, you’ll do the same.
Marc Kovac is The Vindicator’s Statehouse correspondent. E-mail him at email@example.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.