by John Boch
Pontiac Daily Leader scribe (and part time merchandiser at Bimbo Bakeries) Paul Westermeyer came to Guns Save Life’s Pontiac meeting on April 7th, spent a half-hour more or less to himself, and then left to write up a vulgar hate piece that was subsequently published Saturday, April 11th.
We’ll cut to the chase and reprint it, with commentary in italics.
Gunfire of the vanities
Pontiac, IL (Daily Leader) – I received a call last week from a guy asking if he and his fellows could get some media coverage for the local chapter of Guns Save Life. Though this is something we don’t typically do, I gave him the “We’ll look into it” line.
Then there was this exchange:
“I also have a birthday I want to put in the paper, but when I walked by your offices, I noticed a sign that said I was unwelcome.”
Come again? What sign?
“The sign with the handgun and the red cross through it — I’m unwelcome in your building.”
Unfortunately for this man, whom I can only assume would leave the Charlie Hebdo clue unanswered in an intermediate crossword puzzle, we do indeed have a sign on our door that prohibits guns on the premises.
Interesting Mr. Westermeyer goes from unaware of the sign to aware of it. It’s indicative of what’s to come. As for Charlie Hebdo: All the gun control in France didn’t save a single member of the Hebdo staff from Muslim terrorists.
The gentleman who called the newspaper office and spoke with Mr. Westermeyer also called me afterwards. As I recall, the man called to place a quarter-page advertisement to recognize a close relative’s milestone birthday. When told he would need to come down to the office, that’s when the topic of the sign came up. In the end, he declined to go to the newspaper to finalize the ad because of the “NO GUNS” sign and explained why. In the midst of the back and forth, he mentioned the monthly Guns Save Life meeting in Pontiac. He invited Mr. Westermeyer out to learn more about why he felt that a gun-free zone was a criminal empowerment zone.
But it intrigued me to find out why someone would feel his safety compromised in a building of people armed with only slacks and pens, so I decided to drop in on their event at the VFW last Tuesday.
It’s not the people “armed” with slacks and pens he’s concerned about. It’s the violent criminal actors who might drop in on the business. Just as violent criminal Muslim terrorists dropped in on Charlie Hebdo and slaughtered their men “armed” with slacks and pens.
I attended the rally briefly, as other duties were more pressing. But in the half-hour I was there, it didn’t take long to notice a few things …
Every other person in attendance had a drink of some sort; the ones immediately around me had a wide selection in front of them. I’m the furthest thing from a teetotaler, but it would seem that a Hemingwayesque intake of alcohol pairs well with arms. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Every other person had a drink of some sort? No doubt Mr. Westermeyer likes to parse his words like Bill Clinton. I too had a drink: water. I might have had two in fact. The reality is that half the people or more were eating. Of course they had a “drink”: defined as beverage. Sure, a dozen or so of almost ninety people might have had a beer. Some maybe two. So what?
Of the more than 70 people I counted, there were only nine women in attendance. There was a single person in the hall who wasn’t white. Whether that speaks more to culture of the group or to who is actually interested, I don’t know. Make of it what you will.
We had closer to ninety. I’m sure Paul can count that high. Nine women? Maybe. So? One non-white? Who brought race into the mix? Livingston County is only about one-third as non-white as the Illinois average. Does that speak to the culture of Livingston County residents or those who choose to live there? Clearly residents must have moved there because they didn’t like non-whites, right? I mean, that’s why Livingston County residents elected an African-American sheriff, right?
Upon commencement, John Boch, the executive director of the firearms advocacy group, held his microphone too close to his face during his address and reverberated the room with optimism regarding relaxation of gun laws.
Grasping for anything he can.
He expressed hope that someday soon, silencers could make their way into the gun enthusiast’s arsenal.
And it makes PERFECT sense: when taking jurisprudence into your own hands with the argument of self-defense, why alert your distress to others with the sound of gunfire? You can be judge, jury, executioner AND secret agent!
Paul’s shrill tone belies his deep-seated hatred of gun owners and anyone who doesn’t share his political ideology.
Boch also talked about the prospect of lifting gun restrictions in Chicago, saying that, yes, things may get a little rowdy for awhile, but that criminals will think twice when facing an armed populace …
In other words, an armed secret police of everyday people — in effect, the new Stasi; mobilized with guns and Zersetzung.
A secret police? How about just self-reliant everyday people who, instead of cowering to threats from violent criminal predators, possess the means of fighting back in self-defense. Paul seems to prefer they submit to repeated victimization.
That was all I could take.
But he stuck around anyway.
The most alarming thing, however, that Boch and others of his ilk are pushing for is WHERE, exactly, they can take their guns. As it stands, they can really only walk around outside with them and have them in their vehicles. That’s not enough, apparently, and they seek to be able to take guns into retail stores, restaurants, college campuses, parks, playgrounds and other public and private venues.
Paul might wish his baseless assertion that card-carrying good guys can “…really only walk around outside with them and have them in their vehicles…” was true, but it’s not. Roughly an eighth of a million Illinois concealed carry licensees can carry their guns just about everywhere except at taxpayer funded locations and a handful of other locations.
For these people, Charleton Heston is not just their president — he’s their Moses, and they hope to find their land of milk and gunnery soon.
Newsflash Paul: Charleton Heston is dead. I wish he was my president, however.
I’m liberal-leaning on most issues, and I’ll admit: guns are pretty cool — I have a rifle guide I received as a present when I was a rowdy teenager that still makes for an enjoyable toilet-time read.
Liberal leaning: On a scale where Bill Clinton is a rabid conservative, perhaps.
Once upon a time, I viewed guns as I viewed Italian sports cars: fascinating, terrifying, but ultimately abstract. Yet with gun lobbies continuing to batter legislation, with devices that can now create untraceable firearms with 3D printers, the abstract is bleeding into reality.
A “Ghost gun” machine is not a 3-D printer, Paul. It’s a computer controlled mill. Once the final milling is done to a partially completed metal blank (commonly known as an “80% receiver”), you have a gun part called the “receiver”. That part is considered a firearm in the complex world of gun laws. If you build it yourself, it’s exempt from some gun laws.
Once more, Paul, your intellect isn’t in front of the curve. It’s badly behind. Although I will give you that 3D printing is advancing rapidly. There are now carbon fiber printers that create objects, including gun parts, that are much stronger than the early plastics.
Now, I am forced to see a valid comparison of guns with toys of a more sexual nature: one or two hidden around the house where your children can’t find them is fine, though double digit numbers of them is approaching the perverse. And feeling the need to carry these sin-tempters at all times on your person is possibly warranting some psychiatric help.
So now you’re dispensing medical diagnosis too? Your feeble effort at practicing medicine without a license is about as impressive as your practice of journalism.
This is not to say that all concealed-carry advocates are irresponsible lunatics. But there’s no minimum age for FOID Card application, and all it takes is a relatively clean background check. And as for 3D printer-machined guns, how many curious teenagers do you know with access to a credit card?
It wouldn’t be nice of us to write, “That is not to say that all liberals are purveyors of kiddie porn”, so why then do you write such things about concealed-carry advocates?
It’s distressing to think that society as at such a nadir that a significant slew of people want to be armed at all times. Is the safety of a few worth the fear of most? With militant tea bags like Ted Cruz lobbying for office, it’s a matter of time before A Christmas Story’s Ralphie comic parable becomes a canon of tragedies.
Oh, joy. The zenith of Paul Westermeyer’s writing skills is an ad hominem attack on those those who believe:
1. Illegal aliens are here illegally.
2. Pro-domestic employment is indispensable.
3. A strong military is essential.
4. Special interests must be eliminated.
5. Gun ownership is sacred.
6. Government must be downsized.
7. The national budget must be balanced.
8. Deficit spending must end.
9. Bailout and stimulus plans are illegal.
10. Reducing personal income taxes is a must.
11. Reducing business income taxes is mandatory.
12. Political offices must be available to average citizens.
13. Intrusive government must be stopped.
14. English as our core language is required.
15. Traditional family values are encouraged.
In essence, he’s just slurred almost ninety business owners, professionals, and other law-abiding, honorable members of his community in attendance – and a majority of residents of Livingston County.
Are you comfortable with the thought that at a movie theater, a restaurant, or at the college where your child is attending school — that one, or two, or a hundred people may have a firearm on them?
The prudent person welcomes the proven benefits of firearms ownership, along with the proven results concealed carry laws get reducing violent crime. Do you rely on “feelings” and “emotions” or on hard-science when making decisions that affect your family’s safety and security? With decisions come consequences.
Guns CAN save lives — that is true. But they are designed to end them. And the possibility of a secret army of teenagers with silenced, untraceable guns makes me feel a lot less secure about resting my sense of security on some ambiguous “can” — and that’s right where my rifle book is going.
Writing that guns are designed for killing is as feeble-minded as proclaiming spoons are designed to make people fat.
So, what did Paul miss after he left?
He missed the founders of HOOAH Deer Hunt for Heroes talking about their program which as grown in its three short years to help dozens of wounded American servicemen transitioning out of the military because of their war-time injuries.
On one hand I’m kind of glad Mr. Westermeyer left when he did. Given the tone of his story, he probably would have represented our wounded servicemen – who sacrificed great mental and physical injuries for their nation’s safety and well-being – as baby-killing oppressors committing atrocities at every turn during their time serving overseas.
We passed the hat and between those present and Guns Save Life, we sent the HOOAH people home with $850 towards this year’s program.
Mr. Westermeyer missed us talking about some other guns.
Daniel Parcher from South Post Guns brought a Polish PKM rifle to the meeting. It’s certainly best that the local paper’s errand boy left early. He would have wet himself.
We also had the head of Cross Trail Outfitters – an organization that helps build strong Christian men from at-risk boys raised in single-parent households.
The Daily Leader’s gumshoe would likely have had a problem with the religious aspect of CTO, so it’s probably best he didn’t stick around for that, either.
We gave away a host of door prizes. No doubt that was rigged.
And we gave away a handgun to the winner of our monthly gun drawing. He wasn’t present.
We have no doubt that the gun’s winner was a ne’er-do-well. Or so he would have been portrayed.
The Pontiac Daily Leader’s story has been getting raked over the coals by locals on Facebook and in comments.
Scott McCoy Wow. One of the most uninformed and irresponsible articles I’ve ever read. And trying to make it seem like this group is somehow racist and sexist? Come on. You should be ashamed of yourself. Half hour of standing there looking around a room and you write an article from that? I’ve learned more about your mindset from this article, than you learned from attending that meeting for thirty minutes. Just wow.
Teri Rutledge Ah, yes. If we don’t like the topic, make it about race or prejudice.
This is a blog or Facebook post, not newspaper worthy writing.
I miss the days of unbiased newspaper reporting. You would have failed my “Intro to Journalism” class in less than a week, but wow, would my professor have had a time ripping your work to shreds!
If the media would report facts, and give the reader credit for the intelligence to form an opinion rather than trying to shove an agenda down their throats, perhaps some respectability could return to your profession.
Rebecca Burg Eimer The writer asked if I would be comfortable with armed people near my children at college or in a movie theater (I realize not a direct quote) and my answer is, yes. I would love to know that my college age daughter can carry a hand gun to protect herself or someone else.
Chris Campbell One of the most disgusting, idiotic things I’ve ever seen in this paper. The (mis)Leader has reached a new level of stupid. No wonder I dumped my subscription years ago.
Kelly Higgins Even though this is an “opinion” article, I am shocked that the Daily Leader would allow such an uninformed and unintelligent piece to be published. I think they hurt their reputation and credibility on this one
Zack Lopeman I believe this is a very biased unprofessional article. I would like to know if your open minded to view the other side of this and read an article I wrote in support of concealed carry for a high school class. Would you be willing to read it? Let me know I’d be happy to email it to you. Thank you.
Lonny Wilcox I’d rather share a room with men having a beer or 2 armed than share the road with with a newspaper reporter 3 sheets to the wind. And the first is a choice I make, the second I have no choice in.
David Stephenson What a political hack. I bet this “reporter” is going to have his head so far up Hillary’s rear, he couldn’t hear a cogent argument if you sent up there via loud speaker. I wonder if the phrase, “Shall not be infringed.” Ever came across his Democrat party teletype.
Shelly Kimbro Guns do not kill people, people with no respect for others lives do and there are more drunk driving accidents per year that kill people then law abidding people who have a right to protect themselves and what is theirs so before you anti gun people keep popping off at the mouth when presented with something that could harm you or yours you call someone with a gun to come protect you, criminals will carry they’ve failed epically on stopping that so why shouldn’t people who are law biding citizens arm themselves to protect themselves
Brad Duncan Wow!!!!! Liberals and their uninformed agenda seekers…..dbags
Chris Campbell So let’s say you run a small-market newspaper in a small city. You publish mostly local news, school events & such. You stay in business by selling ad space to local businesses & from subscriptions purchased mostly by local residents. One day, a well-established local group INVITES you to their monthly meeting. What do you do? Send someone who will write the story based on their own preconceived notions before they even arrive at the meeting? Allow them to file the story for publication when they only stayed at the meeting for a few minutes? Look the other way when much of their story is about their own personal political views? Ignore it when they make huge inaccurate & insulting generalizations about all the people attending the meeting? As the owner of the small-market newspaper (which I suspect is about to get smaller), do you REALLY think these actions will bring you more customers & subscribers?
I wish them luck as they try to recover lapsed subscriptions to Guns Save Life members and their friends in Livingston County. I also wish them luck with alienated (soon to be former) advertisers.
That is one hell of a hack job attempt at an article you ran about Guns Save Life. I was almost asleep when it was linked to me and i could have done better. One might like to believe small town papers still have some shred of journalistic integrity but such is apparently not the case. I have been to a dozen or so of their meetings and yes often there are those enjoying a beer as implied… also a sandwich, Pepsi, Dr pepper or fries. . . I would like to give a free nod to GSL. If someone wants tosee for themselves, ask their own questions and possibly make their own, less spoon fed opinions. The next meeting in Pontiac will be at the VFW Tuesday May 5th.
Newspapers today are struggling for relevancy and circulation, especially small-town newspapers such as the Daily Leader.
Given today’s economic world, I would think that it’s unwise to shoot yourself in the foot by trash-talking a group of eighty-some upstanding local residents and businessmen celebrating the ideals promoted by our Founding Fathers.
That’s what your reporter Paul Westermeyer did when he visited Guns Save Life’s Tuesday, April 7th meeting for a half-hour before dashing out to write an error-permeated hit piece published today titled “Gunfire of the vanities”.
I’ll submit a rebuttal to Mr. Paul Westermeyer’s sad screed in the next couple of days.
I hope you’ll give consideration to publishing it.
Publishing a counterpoint to Mr. Westermeyer’s vituperation might be your only hope to not losing additional subscription and ad revenue.
Frankly, if it weren’t for my affinity for Pontiac as my wife’s hometown, I would skip the courtesy of a reply offered for publication.
Your publication enjoys the economic consequences of the signage you post on your front door, and so too with the journalistic tenor found within. Mr. Westermeyer’s “tea bagger” slurs of honorable local residents will not win friends and increase subscriptions and ad revenue.
I believe Mr. Westermeyer would be better suited writing for the Huffington Post than the Pontiac Daily Leader.