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Our beloved New Mexico has never fared well on those infernal lists used by publishers to grab readership. The best place to live, the worst place to get drunk, the city with the cleanest neighborhoods, the most likely place to get mugged on a Sunday afternoon at the park.
Have you wondered who comes up with these lists and where they get their information? Sure you have. The Wall Street Journal recently reported on two such prominent lists, separate surveys by prestigious organizations. Each rated the top 10 cities in the world. Not one American city made either list, not even Eunice with her Dairy Freeze, Dollar Store and total lack of stop lights to detain the 2,500 residents.
This column is prompted not by the claim New Mexico has a top ten city but by my notion that the Land of Enchantment is, among all the states, The Most Patriotic. And the reason for this conclusion is that New Mexico is big on guns. By golly, we like our guns and what is more patriotic than guns?
Think about it. Guns and America are all mixed up in a patriotic stew. You got your July 4 picnic with American hot dogs, American homemade ice cream, American apple pie and American red, white and blue balloons. All that, but what quickens the pulse is the American gun powder that explodes in the sky at dusk.
For quite some time, I thought maybe Texas was the Most Patriotic of All. This logic evolved when an associate and I were pursuing a business deal with a West Texas publisher. After a late evening dinner he took us back to the office of his weekly newspaper, sat us down, opened a desk drawer, and took out what he said was a loaded revolver. “Just in case those fellers from the IRS ever pay me a call,” he said with a convincing glint in his eye.
“Well, I just hope they bring Clinton with them,” I said, for even though I was a supporter of the then President, I am a weak-kneed liberal and the knees don’t get any weaker than when they’re faced late at night with a West Texan and his gun, at least one of which is loaded.
“You hate that Communist as much as I do?” the newspaper publisher asked. “Sure do,” I affirmed for a second time, realizing, all of a sudden, how Peter felt when the cock crowed.
That was then and now is now, and it is my theory New Mexico has earned the right to claim she deserves the Most Patriotic label. She allows us to pack heat when we eat at a restaurant.
Actually, that’s nothing new. As long as you have a concealed gun permit you have always been able to carry your .45 into, say, McDonald’s. That’s a good thing. You never know when you are going to get a lousy hamburger.
What is new is a law taking effect July 1 that will allow folks to carry handguns into restaurants with beer and wine licenses. Finally, New Mexico has advanced to the point where we are mixing the proximity of Merlot to the proximity of a Smith & Wesson American Pride series handgun (“a family of pistols to make handgun ownership affordable for all Americans”.)
Make no mistake about it. You can carry your gun into these places but you can’t drink the booze. There is a state regulation that prohibits that and, by heck, we all pay attention to state regulations.
Carol Wright, chief executive officer of the New Mexico Restaurant Association, said, “We still don’t believe it’s good policy to have guns and liquor in the same vicinity.” What does Carol know? Let’s hear the inspired words of NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox. “This is a victory for self-defense rights and for law-abiding residents of New Mexico,” Chris claims.
One could ask — if one were, presumably, not a very good American — why do I need to carry my six-shooter into a restaurant? That question leads to Sen. George Munoz of Gallup who sponsored the legislation. George and others who support pistol-packing patrons at, say, Olive Garden, based their arguments on the assertion that guns are routinely stolen from parked cars. They argued it’s better to allow licensed carriers to take them into restaurants.
So lift high your glass and drink to New Mexico, one of the Top Ten States Where Your Gun Is Most Likely to Be Stolen from the Center Console While You Eat.
Ned Cantwell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, but there is no law saying you have to do so.