Bayhs, Bargers, Gun Control and Family Traditions
In the mid '60s, my family built Barger's Lakeview Market out on Highway 52 in Franklin County. One of my first memories was watching Uncle Bill wiring the lights in the apartment part of the building, which various Bargers lived in for the next nearly 40 years.
Barger's Market started out as a combination grocery/sporting goods store, one of those unique little rural combos. You could get your bread, milk, lunchmeat, shotgun shells, and nightcrawlers. They were also licensed handgun dealers.
In this same time range, Evan Bayh was a teenager at the knee of his senator father Birch Bayh, no doubt already being groomed for his career as a politician. Senator Birch Bayh was known as quite liberal, particularly for being from Indiana.
In 1968, Birch Bayh and Ted Kennedy ran through a landmark gun control bill. No doubt, Birch Bayh really thought he was helping out society, making America a little bit safer. Understandably, his loving son was doubtless well impressed with his daddy's work.
Now, this gun control act did not discernably reduce crime, nor has any other gun control measure since then. We've had more and stricter gun control, and more crime. I'm not necessarily saying that there's been a causal relationship, but stricter gun control certainly has not reduced crime.
From my family's perspective, though, gun control has been a bane to decent upstanding citizens and businessmen. Right after this 1968 gun control act, our young family business started getting hassled by The Man.
Federal bureaucrats were showing up in our place of business and home. I was maybe six years old, so most of the details went by me at the time. Basically though, some newly empowered federal agents started lording their power over our business, picking at picayune paperwork. Hey, you should have had this report filed three days ago.
At some point, there were noises in the direction of threatening to not just pull our gun license, but to confiscate the inventory. We gave up our gun license, and visits from those pesky federal agents.
Not that this stopped my people from trading guns, of course. It just made my dad and grandpa into criminals. Hey, back in the day ol' Brown Barger used to run a little bootleg whiskey in Kentucky during the Prohibition. Despite his youthful indiscretions, though, my grandfather wasn't an outlaw. Brown and Howard Barger weren't particularly rebellious, and generally intended to be straight law-abiding Republican citizens.
However, you just can't expect to tell a Kentuckian from Hazard County that he can't trade in guns. That's just not going to fly. Our people believe in the Constitution, even if Birch Bayh doesn't.
Evan Bayh no doubt thought that his daddy had done a great thing for the country, but from my perspective all he accomplished was labeling my family as criminals.
So I'm not real surprised to see now Senator Evan Bayh voting for every kind of gun control that comes down the pike. For example, just this summer he voted to extend the ban on so-called "assault" rifles, backed up with a lame excuse that this seemed like a "prudent part of the war on terror."
Now, Evan carefully soft pedals his support for gun control. This ended up being one of the key issues that caused his dad to lose the seat in 1980. The son largely votes like a liberal Democrat, but he's smart enough not to talk like one. Nonetheless, Evan Bayh never met a gun control law he didn't like. Like father, like son.
Fortunately for the freedom of the republic, though, the family traditions of those who value liberty over lawfulness remain just as strong.