When U.S. Federal Judge David L. Bunning sent Kim Davis, the County Clerk for Rowan County, Kentucky, to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, it sparked a nationwide debate on television, in political circles and on social media.
Religious zealots claim Davis, a relatively recent “born again” Christian, is simply following “God’s law,” which they say is more powerful than the law of the land.
Legal scholars, judges and others disagree. Since Judge Bunning chose to follow the law and approval earlier this year of gay marriage nationwide by the United States Supreme Court, he had the legal say and declared Davis in contempt, which makes her a criminal under the law and criminals often end up in jail.
The debate, of course, has right-wing zealots like Mike Huckabee rallying to her defense amid the debate over whether or not anyone can pick and choose what law they can or cannot follow.
Such debates are not limited to arguments over gay marriage or the purported “law of God.” Just listen to conversation over breakfast at the Blue Ridge Restaurant or scan the Internet and you will find people who think that if a law is “unjust” or “anti (insert name of issue here) or just plain bad is one that they can, and should, ignore.
A Floyd County gun owner got mad because an employee of the Regal Cinema in Christiansburg told him to leave his gun locked in his car if he wanted to see a movie.
“I’m the legal holder of a concealed carry permit and I can carry my gun anywhere I damn well please,” he posted on Facebook.
No, he can’t. There are a number of places where he cannot carry a gun, even with a license. Regal, as a private business, can prohibit possession of firearms by the general public, even if they have a concealed permit or live in an “open carry” state, like Virginia. To prohibit weapons, they simply have to post a notice on the door saying firearms are not permitted.
Such a notice is posted at Regal but the gun owner said he saw it and ignored the prohibition. When he refused to leave his gun in his car, Regal told him to leave the theater. He got pissed and created a scene.
Sadly, breaking the law on the possession of firearms goes against one of the primary arguments of the National Rifle Association, which proclaims the right of gun ownership and possession exists for “law-abiding citizens who operate in a legal manner.”
Breaking the law could cost that gun owner dearly if Regal wanted to file a formal complaint to the police in Christiansburg. Abusing the privilege of gun ownership or possession can be lead to revocation of a concealed carry permit or even ownership of a firearm or ammunition.
A check of court records there shows the theater has filed any formal complaints. They simply ask the gun owner to lock their weapon away in their vehicle and, if they won’t do that, they are told to leave the theater.
Some gun owners argue that shootings have occurred in movie theaters and it is dangerous for them to be in one without a weapon. Shootings also occur in churches and in courthouses, two other places where firearms are banned.
I’m a gun owner and have a concealed carry permit. On occasion, I go to movies at Regal and I lock my Glock away in my vehicle if I choose to watch a movie.
From my point of view, it’s no big deal. I leave my gun at home when going to the Veterans Hospital because possession of a weapon is illegal in the facility, which includes the parking lot.
Weapons are also prohibited in post offices and most banks, as long as they have a notice posted.
Weapons are not allowed on schools either.
In Kentucky, Kim Davis claims “the law of God” gives her the right to ignore the laws of the United States of America, although she swore an oath to uphold the law of the state and country and nothing in the oath said anything about any “laws of God.”
Others, in the case of those who ignore the legal ability of a Regal Cinema or other businesses that follow the law by posting notices that firearms are not allowed claim they don’t like the law and are free to ignore it.
Toby Keith, who sings about being a good old boy and about guns, told patrons to leave their guns in the car or at home if they wanted to chow down at his restaurant in Woodbridge, Virginia.
Now they can’t eat there with or without guns. Keith’s “I Love This Bar and Grill” closed its doors in Woodbridge in May of this year, less than 18 months after opening.
“Telling gun owners they weren’t welcome with the ‘No Guns’ sign probably didn’t help the bottom line,” said Phillip Van Cleave of the Virginia Citizens Defense League.
Keith’s restaurant followed the law. Those who didn’t like his rules followed their legal right to stay home and put the place out of business.
The law of supply and demand won that debate.