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M  ore than a year ago, I went out on a very long limb and said something nice about a local politician. Believe it or not, I do that sometimes.

Sometimes I live to regret it.

And sometimes I don't.

To be honest, I'm feeling a little antsy about it today.

But I'd become really comfortable with state Rep. Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg. He's not my legislator. I've never had a chance to vote for him. But he does represent fellow York countians, and I'd come to respect the way he thought.

I saw him as a hard worker. I saw him as a man with character. And I saw him as someone who had his priorities in order.

Oh, and one more thing -- I saw him as a solid patriot. He was a man who not only cared about Pennsylvania, but the United States, as well.

In case you have forgotten -- I haven't -- Perry served a one-year tour of duty in Iraq with the Pennsylvania National Guard a couple of years ago, while he was an elected legislator in the state General Assembly.

He continued to serve his constituents from Iraq, by computer and whatever other forms of communication he could manage, the best he could.

I admired that.

And I said so.

But now I'm wondering if some of the bricks in Perry's load haven't fallen off the wagon.

Because Perry said something a couple weeks ago that has brought me up short. I've spent two weeks pondering his comment, trying to figure out a way to give him the benefit of the doubt.

But the more I think about it, the more I hear or read Perry's explanation of what he really meant to say, the more second thoughts I'm having.

This is what Perry was reported as having said for a May 30 story in the Allentown Morning Call: "We must be able not only to hunt but to protect ourselves from an overbearing government that does not do the will of the people."

The comment was made at a Second Amendment rally in Harrisburg in May.

Perry, who is the primary sponsor of Castle Doctrine legislation floating around the General Assembly -- it would allow state residents to defend themselves in their homes and vehicles and on their property without a need to retreat or a fear of prosecution -- was talking about Second Amendment Rights (specifically gun ownership issues).

And maybe he got a little bit carried away with himself.

Maybe he forgot he's living in 2011, not 1770.

Because what he said and how it was said surely did sound like Perry was advocating violence against his own country.

To me, it sounded like words spoken by Timothy McVeigh, after he bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.

That couldn't be, could it? Not Perry. This is a guy who served his country with honor in Iraq just two years ago. This was a guy who put his country ahead of his own political ambition, ahead of his own family, while stationed in a war zone.

This was a guy who wore his uniform proudly, not some redneck bonehead from the hills of wherever railing against his own government.

But the same could have been said of McVeigh, too, couldn't it?

It's not the first time those words, or similar words, have been spoken of course. Two hundred-plus years ago, a lot of people felt the Second Amendment right to bear arms served at least a half-dozen purposes, one of which was to deter an undemocratic government, our own government, if need be.

That was the thinking of the times. And reasonably so, I guess, since we'd just finished fighting the Revolutionary War against an overbearing English government.

But this is 2011. In this country, times have changed, I think. I hope. And even if they haven't, does anyone in his or her right mind think a bunch of citizens with handguns and rifles stand a snowball's chance in Hades against an organized military with the fire power of our government?

Not me.

To suggest otherwise makes one seem simple-minded.

I would not have said that about Perry a year ago.

But what's that the TV character Gomer Pyle, USMC, used to say? "Surprise, surprise, surprise."

Well, OK, I'm surprised Perry didn't use better judgment.

The way things are today, the last thing we need in this country is for elected officials to come off sounding as if they're contemplating armed action against our own government.

Perry should have known better.

Columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. E-mail: lhicks@yorkdispatch.com.