Namely, when you find yourself in one, stop digging.

He seems downright hurt that his constituents have been paying attention to the cynical machinations he has excelled in during his brief tenure in the House, and they remember what he said during the campaign.  Now he is miffed that they want him to take a position on HB 645 – legislation that would allow concealed-carry on university campuses.  

He was especially steamed about a letter to the editor that ran in The Muleskinner, the student newspaper at CMSU UCM.    He was so upset about it (text below) that he confronted the student in a public setting.  

Full disclosure:  The student is a Democrat and he is also a politically active PoliSci major who is interning this semester/legislative session in Representative Mike Talboy’s office.  Mike is my friend and my representative, and he is also the chief legislative election strategist for the House on the Democratic side.  Mr. Wiseman is understandably perturbed himself, because Mr. Hoskins seems to think that he was “put up to” his letter by Representative Talboy.  In fact, Mr. Wiseman asked Mr. Talboy if he would mind if he wrote the letter, and Mr. Talboy said “absolutely not” and offered to look it over if Mr. Wiseman wanted him to.  After the letter was submitted, Mr. Wiseman told Mr. Talboy what he had written so Mr. Talboy would not be blindsided should Hoskins come after him.  

Here is the text of the letter that twisted Denny’s knickers:

Dear Editor,

Thirty-two people lost their lives by the barrel of a gun at Virginia Tech April 16, 2007. Just over a year ago in a neighboring state, six college students were murdered by a gunman at Northern Illinois University.

After such horrific examples of shootings on college campuses, certain members of the Missouri House of Representatives (including Rep. Denny Hoskins) think it’s a good idea to pass a conceal and carry law for Missouri universities.

After these vicious acts that transpired, Rep. Hoskins wants to make it easier for such atrocities to occur in our state. Shouldn’t our representatives be more worried about limiting the amount of guns on college campuses rather than making it legal to conceal them? This is yet another example of Rep. Hoskins, and the members of his party, catering to organizations, such as the NRA, instead of protecting the citizens of Missouri from the dangers of guns.

Rep. Hoskins may look at these recent shootings and claim the lives of the victims would have been saved if someone on campus would have had a gun.

Multiple studies show the more guns are involved in a situation, the more deadly the outcome. More guns are not the solution to this problem, but the problem itself. Many would argue that citizens have the right under the Second Amendment to carry a gun on a campus. How does that correlate to forming a well regulated militia? These so called “protectors of the Constitution” that would defend the conceal and carry law on Missouri’s campuses should be forced to examine such barbaric acts of violence in which possession of a firearm was the cause.

I ask that Rep. Hoskins reconsider his position on this bill, and for the citizens of this state to understand the shear destruction that propagates from firearms. Out of respect for those who have lost their lives in the Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois shootings, we owe it to them to reject this bill and to vocalize our opposition.

Sincerely,

Derek Wiseman

Sophomore political science major

Representative Hoskins was quite miffed by the audacity of the student to assemble facts and statistics and recall the campaign rhetoric and promises made by Hoskins (and maybe even this farcical attack against his opponent) during the race for the 121st legislative district.  

So miffed that he confronted the student.  In public.  In the student union.  

Contrary to some of the rumors that are floating around, he did not go to the student’s class and interrupt a lecture to deliver his rebuke.  

Here is a description of the exchange in  the student’s own words:  

Here is what happened:

I was hanging out in the Union at UCM. Rep. Denny Hoskins was in there as well with a Muleskinner in his hand. He saw me from across the Union and walked over to me. He asked me where the Mulskinner office was, and I told him. He asked me if I wrote the article (knowing full well who I am and that I wrote it). I told him I did, and then he was visibly upset because I didn’t talk with him about the article before I wrote it. I told him that we could talk about it then and we discussed the topic. He was upset that I assumed his opinion on the bill and that he has never seen or heard of the bill. I told him that I assumed his opinion based off of his opinion on gun control and the conceal and carry laws. When I talked with him he even said he was in favor of conceal and carry laws, but he didn’t know how he felt about the bill because he hadn’t heard of it yet. I asked him to consider House bill 645, and to vote against it, and he said he would “look it over.” He was visibly irritated with my actions and he walked off to talk with the head of the communications department.

That is pretty much what happened. I hope it helps.

The thing is, Denny’s position is easy to assume.  Asking him for a direct answer does not yield one.  He knows what is being asked, and he knows that we know that he knows what is being asked, and he knows that we want an answer and there is only one reason he won’t commit…He want’s to play it both ways.  That is, after all, this particular republican pony’s one and only trick, since we learned the CPA hates counting.   I saw this first hand on Wednesday with my own eyes during the budget perfection debate on the House floor with Meals on Wheels.  

Lets just say I came away from watching that bit of political theater thinking that it would be splendid indeed if legislators could be required to put on a shock collar every time they stand up to speak, and the controls should be in the gallery.  When they act like Hoskins and Pratt did on Budget-Perfection Wednesday – and I can only assume every other day – we should have the option of zapping them with a mild but unpleasant electrical shock.  

We could call this the electric fence method of citizen control over the legislature. I have been a lot of things in my life, but the basis for everything I am are my roots as a sixth-generation Missouri farm girl. I have controlled a lot of half-ton animals with a skinny piece of wire and a battery.  I assume that legislators are at least as smart and trainable as my horse and various Angus steers I raised, and could keep a civil tongue in their heads and avoid walking into the fence?  Maybe not right off the bat, but eventually…Don’t you think?  (Okay, you got me…Maybe not…)

But Hoskins is no where near ready to stop digging and put down the shovel.

He was contacted by one of his constituents and a member of the UCM faculty:

Blue Girl,

I’m on the Faculty Senate of the University of Central Missouri.  When I saw the letter in the school paper, I was concerned.  This is legislation about my working conditions.

Here is the email I sent Hoskins Thursday evening.

Representative Hoskins,

A letter appeared in the Muleskinner today saying that you support HB 645 that would allow holders of a conceal and carry permit to bring their guns onto university campuses.

Is the letter correct?  Do you support this legislation?

Would you explain to me your position on this legislation?

…Asked to take a position, he continued the dance.  This is the email I received from the concerned faculty member, reprinted here with his permission:  

On Friday afternoon, Hoskins called me at home.  He told me that he had no position on allowing conceal and carry on public universities.  He said before he would have to talk to students, faculty, and the administration.

I told him that surprised me because universities about the learning and spreading of knowledge.  Guns don’t help.

Moreover, there is no evidence that a lot of guns make places safer.  I noted if that were true Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Sudan should be some of the safest places in the world.

Finally, I observed the groups he wants to talk to are not equal.  Students are on a campus for at best five years.  Faculty are on campuses for decades.  This legislation is about our working conditions and I urged him to vote against ending the bill.

He did not indicate what he would do.

Hope this helps

Hoskins pleading ignorance is a weak tea indeed.  (That is the polite way of saying I think he is most likely lying like a rug when he says he has no opinion on HB 645 and hasn’t even thought about it.)  The legislation was introduced in February, by a member of the republican caucus, and written up extensively on this site at that time. Now far be it from me to offer advice to help the MO GOP, but I would think that at the very least he should have a staffer keeping an eye on the likes of us so we can’t blindside him with our pesky facts and stuff and catch him unawares.  (But carry on…how he is currently  proceeding works just fine for me.)

Now here is the thing…I am what passes for the resident gun nut in these parts.  I am a hunter and a big, big fan of the Second Amendment.  But I am not stupid or naive enough to think ordinary citizens could challenge our government in an armed rebellion.  Those days are long gone, if for no other reason that the side with the Air Force always wins.  

Revolutions in this country take place via the power of the ballot, not the power of the bullet.  Anyone who insists the latter is even possible is either stupid or crazy, and the two categories are not mutually exclusive.  

I am a country girl, a hunter and a deerslayer extraordinaire.  I will never – let me repeat – never give up my guns.  But I also didn’t stay out-state in the countryside.  I spent a couple of decades cleaning up after gun violence on trauma teams in inner-city hospitals – I can’t begin to tell you how many nights I went home from work in the bloody Kansas City summer of 2004 with the blood of murder victims on my clothes, but I can tell you that on at least two occasions that summer, I picked gray matter out of my shoelaces afterwards.

I am not someone you want to get your chickenhawk on with when this is the topic.  Anyone who thinks that guns are too regulated is going to get stiff opposition a face full of claws scattershot from me.  

I was appalled by John Derbyshire in the immediate aftermath of the Virginia Tech tragedy when he implied the victims had shown cowardice by mewling “Where was the spirit of self-defense here? Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn’t anyone rush the guy? It’s not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness’ sake-one of them reportedly a .22.  A .22 – the preferred weapon of the ruthlessly effective Bosnian snipers in the 90s.  A .22 will kill you just as dead as a .45 – and at a greater distance, too.  But then, unlike Derbyshire, and most chickenhawks, I know something about guns…

I also know something about contagious gunfire, and I do not think that allowing a bunch of young people who have not mastered impulse control the ‘right’ to carry a concealed weapon on campus is a good idea – and neither do the vast, overwhelming majority of law enforcement officials.  More guns is not the answer to public safety.  More guns means more violence.

Now I am far from having all the answers, but I do know some of the right questions to ask, so to speak.  I am convinced that if we are truly concerned with public safety, and not just pimping an ideology, we can do that and simultaneously strengthen the rights of law-abiding gun owners, but the ideologues don’t want to hear what I have to say about it because it runs counter to the opinion the NRA pays them to have.

We all need a gut-check.

We need to start by fully enforcing the laws on the books, but we also need to bring a basic framework of laws into standard compliance across all 50 states, with common sense adaptations. States need to share information. Thorough background checks for all firearms purchases should be mandatory, including psychiatric/psychological occurrences. I would go so far as to mandate that private sales, those currently unregulated, would have to take place through the county sheriffs office; and any unregistered sale proven in a court of law would carry a stiff penalty, with mandatory prison time.

We can’t make guns go away. And I don’t want them to. But we can make it harder for criminals to get hold of new ones, and we can control the ones that are out there by actually enforcing the laws that are on the books right now and getting serious about bringing the ones that are currently floating around out there untraceable into the system one-by-one.  My suggestions are not ideal, but it’s a place to start – until smarter people than me can get serious about this. Which will require standing up to the NRA – so I am not holding my breath.  

Let me finish with a bit of unvarnished truth…every last damned one of us who has the proper reverence and respect and can be trusted with the kind of power that a firearm represents – every one of us who really deserves to own a gun – knows some f*cking moron we (at least secretly) wish would give all their guns away and become vegans, because one trip outdoors with them scared the living sh*t out of us and we never went out with that person again.  My moment came on Pea Ridge in Mercer County in 1989 when Satellite Bob shot up Mike’s satellite dish with an AK-47 modified to auto, and when he was asked what he was shooting at, he said “who knows???” (And we also all know that the Satellite Bob’s of the world are the ones who think that liberty herself is dependent upon them packing heat.)

Everyone who hunts or shoots knows someone like that, and if you were really and truly honest with yourself, you would have to admit that there are people who, when you think of them with a gun, and you can’t help yourself.  You think “there ought to be a law…”