In wake of the hate crimes in Maryland and Oregon, self-protection becomes a priority

Should we bring a gun?

It’s not exactly the question you think would come to mind while planning a leisurely getaway. But as my husband and I packed for a long weekend of culture, Southern cuisine and a well-deserved rest, it was one we repeatedly and seriously asked ourselves.

My White Husband Loves Guns, Our Black Son Does Not

My husband likes guns – a lot. He collects a variety of pistols, rifles and shotguns and likes to shoot targets at the range and, occasionally, skeet.

When a clever squirrel figures out how to raid his fenced-in garden, he has been known to pick up the air rifle to scare it off. He once bought a pistol for me to carry in my car when I would return home very late from my copy editing job in Tucson, Ariz., where getting a gun was as easy as going to a shop and telling the clerk you weren’t a dangerous criminal. But once we moved back East, I was fine with keeping my distance.

Though guns are not an interest I share, his hobby never did more than amuse me—because you know how it is with married couples: compromise. He doesn’t join me on every theater outing, either. But the first time he took our young son to the range to enjoy the gun experience, I stopped smiling.

Clinton, Feinstein and standing up to bullies

If you said Hillary Rodham Clinton owes the start of her independent political career to Rick Lazio, even Lazio might agree. The tipping point for the 2000 race for the U.S. Senate from New York between a former first lady and a U.S. Congressman? When Lazio, the Republican nominee, crossed over to Clinton’s side of the stage in a pre-election debate and demanded she sign a piece of paper. Few remember what was on that page, a pledge against using soft money in the campaign. They do remember the moment. Women – and to be fair, a lot of men – cringed, recalling similar encounters they might have had with a guy who stepped over the line. The rest is history, and it belongs to Clinton.

I thought of that image watching the back-and-forth between Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in the gun legislation debate last week. Cruz’s question on the constitutionality of a ban on assault weapons, using the example of limits on the First Amendment, had merit. But it was the tone of condescension in Cruz’s voice and the smirk on his face that stuck.

While his Senate seat looks to be safe in Texas, his national ambitions definitely took a hit. Who wants a president who reminds them of that dude who treated you like an idiot?

In North Carolina, a civilized gun debate fails to change minds

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – In a mostly blue city in a mostly red state, a crowd of several hundred filled a theater for a community conversation called “Voices in the Gun Debate.” It was cordial, which is more than you can say for much of the national dialogue that has NRA leadership and gun control advocates giving little ground in language or policy. But at evening’s end, there weren’t many conversions, either.

Will Obama’s proposals stop black gun violence?

CHARLOTTE – It’s not Newtown, Conn., where a massacre at an elementary school galvanized the nation and spurred Washington to act. Nor has it become a symbol of gun violence like Chicago. In fact, last year in Charlotte, the number of homicides actually decreased to 52, the lowest number in 24 years. But in a 2012 incident that echoes others around the country, a 17-year-old African-American boy here was shot and killed after another teen thought the victim disrespected him in front of a girl. The five young black men charged in his murder were teenagers as well.

So officials and community leaders here are closely watching the national debate over reducing gun violence. And when asked about the president’s proposals, which include a ban on assault weapons, universal background checks and limits on high-capacity magazines, they praise the ideas, but emphasize those are only a partial solution.

N.C. Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan has a task ahead in 2014 reelection campaign

In a state where Republicans did well in 2012 and have high hopes for the next election, she carves out her own path on issues from guns to energy.