Timing is everything.
That cliché is often used when talking in terms of romance or comedy. But, in the case of the Wyoming Legislature, it's also true. Timing is everything.
And that's why the timing is wrong to adopt an official state firearm. And the timing is wrong for relaxing the gun laws in Wyoming.
It's not the wrong timing to discuss these things because of the tragedy at Casper College or the slayings in Newtown, Conn. Talk of guns and laws are predictable and understandable in the wake of those two shocking events.
It's not the wrong timing to talk about those issues because we think gun control isn't an important topic. We've editorialized plenty about the importance of our constitutional rights, the Second Amendment included. Talking about our freedoms is essential and important.
Instead, these two proposed bills that are slated for consideration in this year's legislative session represent misplaced priorities.
Already, several hundred bills have been queued up for consideration. In just a 40-day lawmaking session, there is lots to be done and not a lot of time to do it. Doing the math, that works out to just about a bill per hour, at 300 bills. Granted, not all bills are created equal and few receive serious floor debate.
Still, the sheer amount of work that has to be done by our citizen Legislature is breathtaking.
Given that our budget is faced with shortfalls; given that we will have to implement serious and long-term changes in how we administer health care; given that we have an education system that has serious shortcomings; and given that we must deal with the realities of a beleaguered energy industry, don't we have more pressing things to worry about than an official state firearm, or relaxing the gun laws?
To us, it's not so much a matter of debating the merits of gun control, although there are good questions to be asked when it comes to regulating deadly weapons. Instead, it's a matter of attending to those things which are most critical to the state's well being. Right now, those issues are budget, education, health care and economy. If the already busy lawmakers can solve those issues in just 40 days, then it would make Wyoming politicians far and away the most effective legislators in the country. Keep in mind, Congress has had more than 600 days to solve the "fiscal cliff" problem, and it failed. Wyoming has 40 days to put its legislative house in order.
We hope the leadership in both houses of the Wyoming Legislature does the right thing and makes its first task giving priority to those bills which matter most. It would be a major public opinion coup if lawmakers were to adopt a legislative agenda that separated the important bills from the fringe.
We believe guns are important to Wyoming and important to our way of life, which includes robust hunting and outdoor opportunities. Yet, we don't necessarily think the solution to the horrible violence wrought by guns is having more of them. That being said, we don't think getting rid of guns is the right answer either.
Instead, Wyoming's gun laws, which are less restrictive, have served us well. We believe they will continue to help balance the right of Wyoming citizens with the need for public safety. We believe any responsible gun owner is the first to be an advocate for a measured approach to something as powerful as a firearm.
We hope lawmakers choose a tempered approach to the tragic shootings in Casper and beyond. It is good to talk about the rights and responsibilities of owning a gun. However, there's a difference between reacting to a problem and solving it.