Maybe it's time for more of America to please check your guns

A few days after a family was gunned down near Carnation, Cabela's polite request for customers to check their guns puts one shopper on edge.
Crosscut archive image.

A sign at Cabela's: Please check your gun.

A few days after a family was gunned down near Carnation, Cabela's polite request for customers to check their guns puts one shopper on edge.

On Thursday, I made a much-anticipated trip to Lacey to visit Cabela's, the mega store for outdoor gear. Anticipating the 185,000 square feet of discount fishing rods, fish finders, GPS systems, boats, sleeping backs, hiking boots and camping knick knacks, I expected to feel like Paris Hilton shopping for handbags at a Coach store. But a day after news broke of an entire family murdered near Carnation by two other family members -- one who allegedly told police "she was tired of everybody stepping on her," I saw this sign posted at the Cabela's entry: "All firearms & bows that are brought in for repair; service or trade, must be opened & checked in at the Greeter's Desk. This does not apply to conceal/carry permit holders. Thank you, Cabela's. Three generations of the Anderson family were killed in their home on Christmas Eve. The accused are a family member, Michele Anderson, and her boyfriend, Joseph McEnroe. He had a revolver. She had a semi-automatic. I shouldn't have been surprised that guns were sold at a big sporting goods stores. And I wouldn't presumptively associate anyone at a Cabela's with crime. Most hunters I know are serious about gun safety. But the news from Carnation and the gentle request that people check their guns put me on edge. I grew up with a healthy respect for guns. My dad, as a cop, went to work every day with one strapped to his side. As a kid, my brothers and I shot b-b guns and .22s when we camped in the woods. I once blasted skeet with a shotgun so powerful it bruised my shoulder. So yes, I've enjoyed guns, and I can understand why people collect them. But I've never understood why our nation has this bitter argument over regulating guns. When cops take the lead on calling for gun control, what's left to argue? In November, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would take the first case in 68 years directly involving the 2nd Amendment. Some gun owners say the 2nd Amendment gives individuals the right to keep guns for private uses, including self-defense. Well, here's what it says: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." I think the debate is crazy. We don't allow people to own nuclear weapons, so clearly there's a limit. We accept regulations on automatic weapons and concealment. In 1939, the Supreme Court ruled that a sawed-off shotgun was not a weapon that would be of use to a militiaman. So what's a reasonable militiaman need these days? The Anderson killings remind us we need to do more to make it less likely that guns are used in crimes. The irony, of course, is that many proposed gun reforms would not have changed the outcome of gun violence. That may even be the case with the Anderson family. We don't know yet whether added delays on buying guns or extended background checks could have prevented the murders. Michele Anderson and Joseph McEnroe got their guns legally last summer, the P-I reported. Some of those thoughts went through my head on Thursday at Cabela's. I passed displays of sleeping bags and rain gear and found myself at the gun showroom, which was much bigger than the fly fishing area. The room was packed with dozens of people, mainly men and boys, looking at shotguns, hand guns, rifles, used weapons and even a civilian version of the Army's Colt M4 carbine. It looked plenty cool and lethal. Nearby were displays of safes in which to keep your Cabela's guns locked and unloaded, perhaps an attempt to suggest that there are sufficient means already available to keep guns beyond the reach of bad guys, or bad impulses. I'm not convinced.


Please support independent local news for all.

We rely on donations from readers like you to sustain Crosscut's in-depth reporting on issues critical to the PNW.


About the Authors & Contributors

default profile image

O. Casey Corr

O. Casey Corr is a Seattle native, author and marketing communications consultant.