This election year, we’ve heard from New Mexico families in KUNM’s Voices Behind the Vote series.
In our final installment, we meet an Albuquerque man who is a vigorous defender of 2nd amendment gun rights and believes these rights are connected to other rights in a democracy. He also makes a distinction between issues of the head and issues of the heart.
Tom Tomasi is a bit soft spoken but he has strong opinions about politics. He spends most days working for the federal government, but he also runs his own business as a firearms instructor in Albuquerque.
If you want to get a concealed carry permit in New Mexico you have to go to a class with someone like Tom. Most of his students are men and he says he’d like to see a bit more diversity, including women.
Tom starts his classes by teaching students how they can avoid getting into a situation where they might be in danger and need to use a gun. At a local shooting range, he demonstrated some of the techniques that people might learn during one of his concealed carry classes like shooting twice in close succession.
"If you’re shooting for your life, shooting to save your life, those fractions of a second between shots can really save your life, putting extra shots to stop the attack."
Tom doesn’t consider himself a single issue voter. He’s a registered Republican and says personal freedom is a value he holds in high regard.
He doesn’t mind if people disagree with him, including about politics. He says that’s an important protection of the first amendment.
This election year, he’s been looking out for candidates he thinks will best protect the core values of the constitution, including the second amendment right to own guns.
"Without the second amendment, the first amendment is worthless. Unenforceable. The second amendment is not about hunting, it’s about personal protection. It’s about the freedom from tyranny. I have a hard time understanding why a government would fear its own people and want to deny them the ownership of a firearm."
Tom says he disagrees with some of President Obama’s decisions during his first term, including a focus on tax rates of wealthy individuals …but not because he thinks rich folks should get a break.
"Everybody views everybody else as richer than them…so it’s that rich, pompous pig that’s not paying their fair share…yeah, he’s not paying his fair share and we need to tax the rich. Everybody, everybody should pay their fair share. From the lowest to the highest income, everybody should pay their fair share."
Tom says he would describe his political stance as a mix of pragmatism and compassion.
"I am conservative but I also like to think I have a heart, to me you’ve got to have both, the brain and the heart. It’s got to mix. Yes, the brain says if you want to stimulate the economy, this is how you grow jobs this is how you stimulate people to get businesses started and grow businesses. Yet, you still need to take care of the people who need to be taken care of."
Yet one of Tom’s top concerns when it comes to the future of the country is also the current level of entitlements, like welfare. He says it’s too high and he’d rather see that money diverted back to things like education, especially in New Mexico.
"It’s a crime to me what teachers are paid. Teachers and cops, it blows me away. Two of the most underpaid professions we have and look at how important they are."
Tom says he’ll vote for Mitt Romney for president this year because he has the business skills and values the country needs right now. He says the presidential election is crucial this year, partially because the next president will likely nominate multiple Supreme Court justices.
"The constitution of the United States, as it was intended by our forefathers is at stake. In the next four years, If there is not a change in administration, you will see our fundamental freedoms challenged."
Some of the other issues that Tom is thinking about this year as he heads into the voting booth include the financial impact of the federal healthcare reform law and who will be the Commander in Chief of the military. His son just enlisted in the Marines Corps.
"It’s scary, but I’m also very proud."
Tom Tomasi plans to cast his vote early to avoid the crowds next Tuesday.