April 19, 2007

My husband and I are gun owners. More accurately, JB is a gun owner, but one year he gave me a Ladysmith Smith & Wesson .38 Special, a revolver with gleaming grips that’s strong enough to kill a man, but sized for a woman. So I suppose I am a gun owner too.

JB was raised in a pro-gun environment. His father is a hunter, a target shooting enthusiast, and a collector of firearms; JB and his brother share many of the same interests. Target practice used to be one of JB’s favorite hobbies, especially when we lived in Las Vegas near a large range. These days he only uses guns in Oregon, when we’re visiting his family in Coos Bay and the menfolk go out to target shoot. He joins his family once a year in the fall to elk hunt, too.

Before I met JB I’d never seen a gun in real life. Now I’ve not only seen plenty of firearms, I’ve shot quite a few, from pistols to shotguns to high-powered rifles. I used to be a pretty good shot with a Mini-14, which is the sort of Big Scary Gun you see in movies depicting dramatic bank robberies.

I went shooting with JB because it was something he enjoyed and I had no particular reservations about interacting with guns (although I had a very strong emotional reaction the first time I pulled the trigger, it was overwhelming and terrifying to understand the destructive power I held in my hand). Several years ago we shot together quite a bit, and since then the opportunities to do so—and the interest, I suppose—have dwindled. I don’t think I’ve fired a gun for at least a couple of years.

Politically I am not in the same camp as JB, who believes very strongly in the right to bear arms. It’s a gray area for me. I don’t necessarily believe that gun ownership should be outlawed. I do believe it should be strongly regulated, and that, for instance, people who are forcibly admitted to mental hospitals shouldn’t be able to buy Glocks.

JB’s feeling is that if someone in one of those Virginia Tech classrooms had been armed, the shooter could have been brought down before so much damage happened. Which isn’t to say he believes students should be carrying weapons to their classes (but maybe teachers should have the option?). As he said to me, he doesn’t have all the answers to these difficult issues, he just believes Americans need to have the right to defend themselves against their fellow man. That if guns were outlawed, criminals would still get their hands on them; that citizens should not be rendered defenseless in criminal circumstances.

His opinions are more complicated than what I’m presenting here, I only mean to show his general stance.

It’s very hard to be objective about guns when they’re being used in schools to end young lives. I’ve found that since Riley was born I feel differently about guns in general; they seem uglier, their purpose a sad statement about our society. I wish, simply, that they didn’t exist.

There doesn’t seem to be a “make unhappen” weaponry vote available to me, though, and so I have to consider the realities of a world with guns. Where Riley will grow up with events like Virginia Tech that must be explained to him, a father who would like him to be exposed to firearms the same way he was—with integrity and a never-wavering focus on safety—and a mother who futilely hopes her boy spends his life oblivious to their existence.

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missbanshee
15 years ago

I am passionately anti-gun, but I see the arguement that if they are illegal, only the criminals will have them. It’s a vile argument, and I hate that I just have to say “I don’t know.” I know plenty of people who are responsible gun owners, and I know that personally, I never want to touch one in my life. Since I moved to the South, friends have been encouraging me to learn to shoot, and I just…no. It’s not going to happen. For one thing, and I feel this is pertinant, I have severe clinical depression. I would never turn a gun on another person, but myself? Well, there have been more several occasions in which I am glad that I should never, EVER be allowed to buy or have a gun. And I shouldn’t. Ever. I’m glad of that, and I really, truly am at a loss as to where the laws should be.

I hate this. All of it.

Jessica
Jessica
15 years ago

I could almost have written that post myself (except probably less eloquently) – my husband owns guns and believes strongly in the 2nd amendment. I’ve fired a gun maybe twice in my life, and I’m frankly extremely uncomfortable with them. Now that we have a child I’m even less comfortable with having guns in my house, even though they are locked up and not accessible by our son. I know there’s going to have to come a time when he is taught how to handle them safely, but I’d like that to be when he’s at least thirty. I’m only kidding a little. I just wish they would go away too. This has been an ongoing discussion between me and my husband for a long time, and I don’t foresee an end to it any time soon.

angela
angela
15 years ago

I’m not a member of the NRA. I am a Libertarian. I believe that people have the right to arm themselves, but I am uncomfortable with the thought of owning a gun myself because I am not comfortable with my skill level.

My BF is a gun-toting, Republican NRA member. Today he told me he is buying me a gun for my purse, even though we don’t have concealed weapons permits here. We’ll see about whether I’ll carry it or not.

I read a few things today that not only confirmed my convictions in the right to gun ownership, it made me feel like it was a necessity for every household to have one.

Gonzales v Castle Rock – A woman in the middle of a nasty divorce got a restraining order against her husband. He was not allowed to see the kids except once a week. He kidnapped the kids and she repeatedly went to the cops to enforce the restraining order and they did nothing. The husband murdered their kids and then killed himself. She sued the city because the cops did not enforce the restraining order. The result? It was found that a citizen can not sue a city or police department for failure to enforce the law. In my mind, this means that you are responsible for your own safety. And it means you can’t count on the cops to roll in and protect you.

A year ago (Jan 2006), a proposed bill in Blacksburg, Virgina allowing students to have weapons on campus was stricken down. The VT security guy issued a statement that said that he is sure that all the VT students feel safer since the bill was stricken down and there would be no weapons on campus. Right.

I have links for all this, but every time I post links I get sent into “awaiting moderation land.”

Yams
Yams
15 years ago

I am from India so please take what I have to say with a lot of salt. I admire Mahatma Gandhi a great deal and his philosophy of non-violence. I feel guns by their sheer exsistence are unsafe items. No matter how safe/responsible a person is you can never be 100% sure of safety with a gun lying around. Gandhi did a lot with the power of his word and actions and I wish more people did the same.

I repect JB’s point of view but nothing will get me to own a gun, ever.

renovatingme
15 years ago

I could have written that entry as well as my husband is a gun owner and like your husband strongly upholds the 2nd ammendment. Also my husband like yours feels strongly that if a student had been allowed to have been armed he or she could have taken the gunman down and saved more lives.

Like yourself – politically I am not in the same camp as my husband, who believes very strongly in the right to bear arms. It’s a very gray area for me. I don’t believe that gun ownership should be outlawed. And I really do believe it should be strongly regulated, people who are forcibly admitted to mental hospitals shouldn’t be able to buy guns period.

All so scary.

Pete
Pete
15 years ago

The excuse of “If more people carried weapons these things wouldn’t happen” is pretty lame. Remember the rash of freeway shootings in LA a few years ago. Most of them happened after people started to carry guns in their car “just in case they were shot at”. In any population there will always be a percentage that have ‘anger issues’ and if armed would express that anger with the gun. There might be fewer mass killing if more people carried but I bet there would be a great deal more crimes of passion.
FYI, I grew up hunting and owned a gun until I had kids.

Jacqueline
15 years ago

I am so grateful I live in a country that does not have a “right to bear arms” clause in its constitution to be ridiculous misinterpreted. This means I will never have to consider a “world without guns” because, largely, I live in one.

A US without guns would be nice though. I don’t mind my son seeing guns, as he will on TV, in books etc. I do mind however, him seeing guns pointed directly at him from a TV screen and newspaper from a shooting that happened in the US.

Aunt Linda
Aunt Linda
15 years ago

The constitution was written for people who had muskets, not automatic weapons. Have hunting rifles if you must. But let’s ban anything that has NO purpose but to take human life. Will it matter? Sure. Just look at the murder rate in the USA vs any other country. Most people killed by guns know their assailants; let’s not make it so easy for every angry person to off his/her family.

Swistle
15 years ago

Guns scare me enough to make me feel sick. So do knives or anything else including pencils and plain old box knives, if presented as a weapon by someone who intends to hurt people. Guns make me feel worst, because they are so fast and so distant and so un-take-back-able once fired. But if my husband were abusive and I kicked him out, or if there were a violent person known to be targeting my family, I would get trained to use a gun and I would keep one in my house–despite being very scared about an accident happening. All I have to do is think about my children being in danger, and I change my position on guns 180 degrees: if someone is coming at them, I want to be the one armed with something fast and distant. I guess I have to be scared of something specific and above-average-likely (as in the abusive husband scenario), though, because I haven’t gotten the training and the gun just in case of some random maniac. Maniacs are so publicized but so uncommon.

ivymae
15 years ago

This is a really compelling essay I heard on NPR yesterday: http://marketplace.publicradio.org/shows/2007/04/18/PM200704184.html

Personally, I think it goes back to a culture problem (violence seen as worthy and sexy). I think gun violence is a symptom of a problem that, as parents, we DO have a say in.

jonniker
15 years ago

Hm. Me too on all of it. I wrote about this a long time ago – I’ve gone to shooting ranges many times, and we’ve thought about buying our own gun(s) many, many times. We live in a state where it’s pretty common – in fact, stats for our town are that one out of every three people owns a concealed weapon. Seriously. My father-in-law never drives without a gun in his glove compartment, and my colleagues tote concealed weapons around everywhere they go. I am, frankly, a little desensitized to the whole thing, but not so much that the reality doesn’t scare me a little. No, A LOT.

It’s hard. Both sides are hard. Guns scare the shit out of me, but it’s hard for me to imagine the Undo Button as well…

Jane
15 years ago

Like Jacqueline, I also live in a country where guns just aren’t.

Self defence here is a matter of being wary and conscious of being followed, not having a pistol tucked into your pantyhose at all times (just in case).

I don’t have to worry about someone going postal in the workplace, because in all likelihood the worst they would do is come at me with a styrofoam cup.

That’s not to say people don’t die from guns in New Zealand, they do – but it’s a very rare occurance, and not something the majority of the population here feel they need to be on-alert for.

It’s such a foreign concept for me to imagine that any person wandering past on the street, walking into a shop, or pulling up next to me in a car could have a gun on them so I just don’t feel the need to be armed in return.

Perhaps if guns were a problem here I’d be more open to owning one myself solely for self-defence, but I wouldn’t like being in that position and as it is the need just doesn’t exist – I feel safe and it’s a good way to be. I hope it doesn’t change.

ShannonJ
ShannonJ
15 years ago

I grew up in suburbia, and if I’ve ever seen a handgun in real life, I don’t remember it. They really scare the shit out of me. I think guns make it much easier for unstable people to act on their impulses. Do you think those Columbine kids or Seung Cho would have come in with a knife and killed so many people? Maybe, maybe not, but guns, bombs, etc. are a hands-off way of taking life.

My husband and I (and countless others, obviously) had this same conversation this week; ours was after watching Ted Nugent on one of the news channels. He also made the argument that if others were armed, there would not have been so much bloodshed. So what about that Amish schoolhouse? Would you expect those little kids or anyone in that peace-loving society to brandish firearms?

I see both sides of the argument, and I’m not totally against gun ownership for hunting, law enforcement, etc., but personally I hate them. I might feel differently if that had been one of my kids, though.

christen
15 years ago

I agree with Aunt Linda, for sure. That “right to bear arms” BS was written how long ago? Is it really necessary today? Look at the countries that strongly regulate guns and all things gun related… not so much with the mass murders there, eh? I don’t know. My family is a family of hunters as well, but personally, I don’t think it’s necessary at all. They don’t NEED to hunt deer, either. My brother doesn’t NEED to shoot coyotes. They might eat the meat from the deer, but they don’t NEED it in the first place. That’s my big beef, is that they could go BUY beef. Guns and permits and ammo cost a lot more than a steak.

If you need to kill your dinner to survive, you need a gun. Otherwise? No.

People may kill people, but it’s a hell of a lot harder if those people don’t have guns. You don’t see too many mass murders committed by steak knife (I’m not joking). A kid can’t walk into a classroom with an axe and kill 30 people from the doorway, is all I’m saying.

Jacqueline
15 years ago

PS: I am also a school teacher. I feel perfectly safe teaching here. You could not pay me enough to make me teach in a high school in a country where shootings at schools happen several times a year.

Michelle
Michelle
15 years ago

When we first heard the news of the shooting, my first response was to turn to my husband and ask, “and guns are legal, because….?

Schnozz
15 years ago

If the second amendment were actually to blame for such a tragedy, it wouldn’t be the biggest shooting in history. It’s beyond me how people can make the actions of such a clearly disturbed individual a partisan issue. Sure, if he hadn’t been able to get a gun, everything would have been fine! Right.

I don’t even necessarily think people should have guns (I’m sort of in the shrugging camp who thinks guns can’t possibly be good but also thinks that it’s kind of too late to get rid of them). I just think it’s absurd that people are choosing this occurrence as proof of their political stance.

Ashley
15 years ago

I grew up around guns and own them, so you would think I would have a straight foward opinion, but I am really unsure of where I stand. . What I do believe is if it weren’t guns it would be something else, possibly more deadly. There is and will always be violence against others. We want our freedom and with that comes consequence, this kid slipped through the system because of the very freedom we desire.

Michelle
Michelle
15 years ago

I wish these were my words (I got them from a local website, http://www.yelp.com). They succintly state what the problem with guns is really indicative of…killing, it seems, IS the american way…

“I’ve been thinking about the recent murders in VA and while I personally find them horrific the more I think about it the more I wonder why that is ?

We’re American’s and we kill people, it’s what we do.

We live in fear of North Korea or Iran developing their nuclear ambitions and well we should yet we are the only nation on THE PLANET to has ever actually used a nuclear weapon on other people.

When we were attacked by terrorists they killed 2,973 American’s yet as of today we have sent 3,311 of our own people to die in Iraq plus another 376 in Afghanistan and that is against the back drop of an approximate 60,000 Iraqi dead and a conservative estimate of another 3,000 Afghani’s.

Terrorists killed 2,973 and that was bad, no question. But since then we’ve had a hand in the deaths of 66,687more. On a percentage basis does that qualify as slaughter ?

In our own country during a good year we kill 9 — 10,000 other American’s with guns, a bad year is closer to 15,000 and that’s just with guns mind you, there are a lot of other homicides with knives, blunt instruments, and what have you.

We decry the rogue shooter who kills on a college campus, and yet 37 years ago protesting students were killed on a college campus and the shooters were members of our own military ! (Kent State)

So I don’t know what the problem is ? Do we really abhor murder, and death, or are we just suffering from a colossal case of denial ? We decry senseless killings and yet do more of it internally and externally than any other industrialized nation on earth in most cases by a multiple.

And don’t say “not here.” It’s here and it’s us; there is no “they” or “them.” California is a top 10 state for homicides per capita, and our very own Oakland and San Francisco rank right up there in per capita homicides for the most recent year that statistics were available (FBI 2005).

No, I think it’s time we own up to our legacy. I think we should start by being honest with ourselves because you can’t begin to address a problem if you aren’t willing to admit it exists.

We are Americans, we are a violent and warlike culture and we kill people, both here and abroad, and we kill lots of them. It’s something we do well.

So instead of being shocked at the killings at Virginia State I think from now on I’m going to be surprised, surprised that stuff like this doesn’t happen more often, because be honest, it’s the American way.”

laughing mommy
15 years ago

After I got married I lived in Canada for three years where there is much more strict gun laws. You can’t go into a store and just leave with a gun. You have to apply for a permit which can sometimes take months, and I think they really check your background (but I’m not postiive how much they check).

It doesn’t help you know. While I lived there people were beaten to death and killed with cross bows. Someone who wants to kill another person will find a way.

This is a true saying… guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

Jem
Jem
15 years ago

This hardly applies to NZ where most of us, generally, don’t have guns. I’m glad for it. Theres something horribly romantic about having a gun, and I can understand wanting to protect yourself, but I would rather that guy hadn’t been able to get a gun at all. Plus, I’d rather be a ninja than have a gun.

Diablevert
Diablevert
15 years ago

I don’t know how I feel about guns myself, quite. But you might want to take a look at “Giving Up the Gun,” in Andre Dubus’ book of essays, _Memoirs from a Movable Chair_. He owned a gun for years, saved a mans life because he had one, and later gave them up because of something that happenned to him. He’s a very good writer.

heather
15 years ago

my ex-boyfriend, with whom i lived for six years, was and still is strongly pro-gun. prior to meeting him, i would have put myself in the opposite camp. gradually, though, i saw the validity of some of his arguments, which strongly resembled JB’s. i even went to the range a few times with him. so here i am, like so many people, i think, somewhere in the middle. i tend to have very black and white opinions when it comes to politicized issues, and being unsure of this one makes me a bit uncomfortable. i don’t think there is an easy answer. i’ll agree with the commenter above, though: i’d most definitely rather be a ninja than have a gun.

Jane
15 years ago

“Someone who wants to kill another person will find a way”

I can see what you’re saying – there will always be loose-units who will do whatever it takes, but surely there are a number of deaths that have occurred as a result of a single impassioned moment that wouldn’t have happened had the killer not had such easy access to a deadly weapon.

Then there’s accidental shootings to consider also.

It’s interesting to see how things are different in other countries – sure, there will always be violence but do you need to make it so easy?

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
15 years ago

I too come from a country where guns aren’t accessible and really aren’t a problem. And I prefer it that way. But in the US, it would be virtually impossible to undo the 2nd amenment, or or else radically alter it.

The last encounter I ever had with a gun was when I was eight. My father was an armed police sharpshooter. I went with him a shooting range [just a little kid looking up to her dad, you know…] I was accidentally shot in the arm. So even in a building full of police officers, no one is really safe. I dunno, they just scare me a lot. I don’t think I have any more answers than anyone else, but I wish I did.

Joanne
15 years ago

It is complicated, you’re right. My husband is more liberal than I am politically but is more pro gun. He thinks we should have one to protect ourselves, but he is worried because we have a child. I never wanted to have a gun until I had a child. I feel sometimes like we are sitting ducks and this little boy is counting on us to take care of him. If someone broke into our house, not only would they get to my son’s room first (it’s at the top of the stairs), but we would have nothing to protect him or us, except a cell phone! We have recently had kind of a crime wave where I live, and I think about it a lot. I really do think that if someone wants to kill someone (or several someones) they are going to do it, regardless of how easy or hard it is to get a gun. I’m not sure what the answer is.

Seattle Suz
15 years ago

Odd timing to pick up a copy of the North Seattle Herald-Outlook from our branch library the day of the VT shooting. This op-ed piece was written in response to the UW 4/2 murder/suicide. However, I found its sentiments very applicable to current situations as well as those past, especially given the age old argument the pro-gun lobby uses with regard to independently obtained arms.

I’ll leave you with the author’s closing remark, as it is as timely now as ever:
“Gun nuts are just gaga over the Second Amendment, and in their millennial paranoia, they stomp and spit and scream that governmental gun control strikes, unconstitutionally, at the heart of our individual rights. Too bad they fail to read the entirety of that much-ballyhooed amendment.
In any reckoning, it’s impossible to see, by any stretch of logic, how Jonathan Rowan constituted any kind of a well-regulated militia.” -Rick Levin
http://www.zwire.com/site/tab8.cfm?newsid=18192849&BRD=855&PAG=461&dept_id=520834&rfi=6

Amy
Amy
15 years ago

It seems pretty easy to me: don’t make guns illegal, just make it harder to own them. There should be a waiting period, background checks, etc so that people (like Cho) who have been in a mental institution, are not able to get them. I have no doubt that there are plenty of sane, responsible gun-owners out there, but I also have no doubt that there are just as many irresponsible gun-owners too (shooting into the air on fourth of july, anyone?). Also, why in the HELL do we need to sell machine guns etc to the general public? Personally, I would never have a gun in my home and if my husband wanted one we’d have some serious battles over it. Too many kids get killed accidentally, and it doesn’t really matter if you teach your own kid to respect the gun–what happens when their friends come over and want to “play” with it? The common sense laws they have been trying to pass for ages are just that: common sense. Let’s use our brains, people. Limit gun sales. Why the hell is a background check asking too much? When is the NRA going to stop dictating all off our policies?

brid
brid
15 years ago

it’s a vicious cycle. criminals have guns. you need a gun to protect you from the bad guys with gun. The bad guys with guns need bigger and badder guns to be bigger and badder criminals. You need an even bigger and badder gun to keep up with the bigger and badder criminals. It’s one of those ad infinitem cycles where things spiral into guns becoming easier to buy, easier to shoot, easier to load, just plain easier.

guns shouldn’t be easy. To drive a car requires hours of practice, a written exam, a physical exam–to own a car proof of insurance. To own a gun? far less work. So if you feel that you need to “bear arms”: prove it. Wait longer, pass more extensive requirements, take a test to prove you can use it responsively. It is a weapon. a deadly weapon. no one every argues that it’s not–and it should be treated as such. I don’t think that “the right to bear arms” ever meant the kind of weapons that exist now. I don’t think that the ability to reload faster, the ability to fire bullets more rapidly, the ability to fire more bullets without reloading are protection measures. I think that what constitutes a weapon for civilian use should be strictly defined. I also think possession of a deadly weapon (any one, not just guns) should have greater legal consequences. I don’t care if you’ve never broken any law in your life, if you have a permit for a gun in your home but not to carry one concealed, if you’re a gang-banger making his way…possession should be a bigger legal deal.

and the problem with citing studies of cases where circumstances would have changed had a victim held a gun is that it’s conjecture. Things could have turned out better. Things could have turned out worse. Things could have turned out exactly the same. There’s no way of knowing. People carrying guns outside of law enforcement never makes me feel safer. My carrying a gun wouldn’t make me feel safer. So i don’t carry one. If it makes you feel safer to own a gun, that’s your choice. But obey the law in your state or country (change the law or move if you feel strongly enough to break that law); acknowledge it’s a deadly weapon–and make it less easy.

oh man, I commented ten times more than I intended. I’ve never written this long a blog posting (in fact, this one is exponentially larger than all my other comments together). So I’m submitting it anyway. Sorry! (and thanks for reading all the way through to the end).

Jane
15 years ago

Oh, one more thing…

Excuse my naive lack-of-gun-knowledge ignorance, but if your sole purpose of having a gun is for self-defense in the home then you’d really need it in your hand at all times while you’re there right? Otherwise the person breaking in waving a gun around would have an unfair advantage. The criminal with the gun is unlikely to knock on the door so as to allow you time to grab your handgun from the bedside drawer so you can be “evens”.

What I’m trying to get at is how often does a gun-owning victim actually even get his/her hands on their own gun when they’re under attack? Probably less often than jilted lovers grab that same gun in a heated moment and do something that they’d probably not do had they not been afforded the opportunity.

Leslie
Leslie
15 years ago

As was pointed out, “bear arms” as used in the Bill of Rights refers to an armed militia, not personal gun ownership.

I’ll never forget an episode of *Primetime Live* from some years ago when an interviewer was talking to young kids (about 5-7 years old) about guns, showing some examples of weapons and bullets. These were all kids who had been taught by their parents about the dangers, and how guns should never be touched, and if you see one you should run get an adult and so on. They had exactly the right answer to every question the interviewer asked.

Then she left the room for a minute, asking them to remain in their seats. The minute she was gone they were *all over* those guns, trying to load them (the bullets were purposefully too big to fit) and aiming them at each other. It happened with every group, every age, each sex. It was chilling. I would never *ever* have a handgun in a house with a child.

kiwi
kiwi
15 years ago

My boss at work feels the same as JB – that if someone in the classrooms had a gun, then this could’ve been prevented.

His resolution is to give peace officers free tuition to colleges – so that there are people who are required to be responsible with guns in the building.

Personally, i hate this very idea of having “guards” and people who are licensed to kill in a school setting. I’m all for stricter gun regulations (and while I don’t know much about how these things go, if this isn’t doesn’t already exist, then they should be checked up and renewed every few years just to make sure that the owner hasn’t started to slowly lose their mind over time).

On the other hand, I have a history of mental illness, but am a complete pacifist. I just want a firearm against the coming zombie apocalypse and feel that I should be allowed to protect myself against the undead.

donna
donna
15 years ago

I grew up with guns, hunting etc. and then taught my kids about guns, (and fishing too), but honestly, in my family a gun is just a tool, in the same way a hammer is a tool, and yes I understand that you can kill a lot more people at a time with a gun than you would be able to with a hammer. But, and here is the thing, had he not been able to get a gun, this guy would have built several bombs, or malatov cocktails to throw in the rooms, as he had already chained the doors shut. Easier than buying a gun, this guy was determined, crazy, and you can’t really use his actions as an argument pro or anti gun. the gun was just a tool, if it wasn’t that it would have been something else. I carry all the time, actually had more guns than the hubby and he’s a cop, and have had gang bangers shoot up my house and motorhome and the police car three times now, and there’s where I justify having guns in the house, in my car, or on my person. Just like I carry a knife, fix a flat and a cell phone, water, and enough to eat for a couple days in my car. Maybe its a whole different mindset because I live in the wild wild west, or maybe I was just taught that you take care of you and yours, either way, who would you rather have with you in a jam, me, or someone who won’t pick up a gun even to defend themselves? Sorry this kinda shit just gets me on a roll, and I tend to preach, but I tell you, my first thought was the same as JB’s, didn’t anyone on that campus have a gun, even if for no other reason than to lay down a supressing fire?

Katia
15 years ago

I grew up in a household with guns. I don’t currently own one, but I also don’t own a couch, so make what you will of that. I would own one – either handgun or hunting rifle – without a problem, or fear. Guns, like donna says, are tools, like any other tool. Guns don’t cause violence. Gun violence is a symptom of a larger problem. Before guns existed, there was plenty of violence in the world without them – a handful of box cutters caused mass chaos, and ultimately, mass destruction and terrosim just a few years ago. You don’t need a gun to kill people. You don’t even need a gun to kill a lot of people.

Some of most feared serial killers did not use guns. Kids are beating up homeless people with baseball bats for fun. They don’t need guns. Domestic violence can easily happen without guns.

I don’t believe that eliminating them will eliminate the problems behind them. People who want to cause mass chaos will find other ways to do it. Bombs. Arson. Knifings. And beyond that, guns already ARE illegal to purchase for most of the people we don’t want having them. Criminals are generally not allowed to purchase firearms. Most people convicted of domestic abuse are not allowed. Most people who are forcibly committed to mental institutions /are not allowed/. This already happens, most of the time. Yet, criminals still get their hands on guns, easily. So do other people who are not legally allowed to purchase them.

You might suggest that if the citizen population had fewer guns, criminals would have fewer places to steal them from. Has this worked for the war on drugs? No.

Drugs, like violence, are just a symptom of a problem that goes far beyond what outlawing them should do. We have the right to bear arms for a reason. To protect ourselves – and our country – in times of need. That shouldn’t be revoked just because some people have decided to use them for violence against their fellow man.

Anonymous
Anonymous
15 years ago

The second amendment was written so long ago it is not even valid anymore. And while we’re interpreting the second amendment to fit our ‘modern’ lifestyles we should also look at all of the amendments in the bill of rights.

Hello first amendment with your free speech, freedom of religion & free press, blah blah. I mean the press has just gone crazy lately and what with all the blogs, Wikipedia, etc you can just basically say anything these days and once it is written we assume it’s true cause we read it on the INTERNET. And don’t get me started on the freedom of religion BS. Jesus and Allah have fueled the deaths of more people than guns & drugs combined!

And this fourth amendment, protection from unreasonable search and seizure. I mean how long ago was that written, basically the same time I think, right? Surely it was written before 911. Now our government should just grant themselves the power of unlimited search and seizure because it’s the only way to protect the population.

I don’t remember any of the other rights, but I am sure they need to be changed – or at least interpreted differently than they were originally intended. Same interpretation process had to happen with the bible; the OLD testament is for Neanderthals, yo.

sooboo
15 years ago

This is a complicated issue. Have you ever been to the Winchester Mystery House? It literally drove that woman nuts. I have lost two friends from gunshot wounds. One death was ruled accidental and the other was a domestic violence situation. In both cases the guns were bought legally by (incredibly irresponsible or abusive)people with no criminal history. I have also lived in Texas where I met people who were like JB, in that they were responsible people that liked guns to use as a hobby and sport and I had no problem with that. I even had a friend that made his own bullets. I get both sides. I just wish that a person really had to jump through serious hoops to get a gun. I live in L.A., in a middle class neighborhood and I do hear that horrible pop pop once in awhile in the middle of the night. It would be nice if the kind of people that misuse guns or had the potential to, had a lifetime ban from buying guns. How you would screen them, I have no idea, but we should try harder to.

Katia
15 years ago

I would like to add in response to Leslie’s comment, that I grew up where as a child, I was taught how to handle firearms responsibly – not to never ever touch them, not to “run and get an adult” if I saw one, and how bad and dangerous they were and to stay away from them. I was taught that they *could* be dangerous, and that you should never ever point them at anything you did not intend to shoot. By the time my brother was twelve, he owned 2-3 guns, small caliber stuff. Normal for a boy around here. I, too, owned them. We touched guns. We ‘played’ with them by hunting gophers, with BB-guns first, then, when we were older and had proved responsible, with .22 rifles. Mostly without adult supervision. We were not taught to fear them, or to avoid them at all costs. They were not typically locked up in a cabinet. They were out of reach when we were very young, but by the time we were eight or so, we knew how to use them. Properly.

We never had the desire to rush up and play with them and experiment with them because we were taught that they weren’t some forbidden thing of mystery, but just another tool, and one that needed to be used with caution – just like a knife, or a saw, or heck, electricity.

There have been very very few gun accidents in my area, despite the very high percentage of people – even children – owning guns (virtually everyone). The only ones in the last 10-15 years involve booze. There have also been no deliberate shootings. *shrug*

Lizzie
Lizzie
15 years ago

First let me say, hats off to us all for remaining cool-headed in our discussion. This kind of thing has the serious potential to be a red flag to a bull and the whole ‘flame wars’ thing is usually the end result.

I come to the argument from two sides – I have a father who was in the military (Vietnam) and I’m married to a police officer. I grew up knowing my father kept rifles in the house both for the sentimental value (two or three were antiques) and because they were tools to hunt. At one point, my father sold rabbits for a living.

It may be because I was (am!) a girl, and quite a bit younger than my siblings, but the gun thing never appealed to me. The older siblings were all taught how to shoot whether they wanted to or not – a lot of which had to do with demystifying guns and teaching them the safety issues. Take away the ‘forbidden delight’ and it becomes less of a yearning, less of a curiosity – at least that’s the stance my father took. I, like the older kids, was taken out on a couple of occasions and force-fed the safety and mechanical implications of being around guns. I must admit, I neither enjoyed or tolerated it very well, but understood the reasoning behind it. I’m switched-on enough to know that rifles helped to feed us on more than one occasion.

But like others have commented, where I live, the ‘right to bear arms’ isn’t a factor. In 1996, a man by the name of Martin Bryant burst into the Broad Arrow Cafe in Port Arthur, Tasmania and killed 35 people. This created a firestorm of political debate and the biggest reform of gun laws in Australia in recent times. Owning a gun of *any* type became infinitely more difficult. My father, who had owned guns since childhood, now had to ‘prove’ his proficiency and safety knowledge. In addition, the government banned a slew of semi-automatic rifles and offered money in a gun buy-back scheme which saw Dad have to surrender two of his three antique guns for money that didn’t adequately cover their sentimental value. To have kept them would have been breaking the law, despite the fact he was one of the ‘good guy’ gun owners and probably one of the more knowledgeable about the inner workings and safety issues given his time in the military. It was a serious upheaval at the time, and hard given my father’s connection to it all, but necessary. And we didn’t have NEAR the gun issues the States had/have. If you get caught carrying a weapon on your person at *any* time outside of military or policing circumstances, and you don’t have a licence for it, you’re in deep trouble.

The ironic thing is that my police officer husband is a very, very good shot and quite enjoys his time training on the firing range. But he is not allowed to bring his work pistol home (employer rules) and I would not allow him to keep any kind of firearm at home. Despite everything, I’m still not comfortable with any of it…

Rebecca
Rebecca
15 years ago

How awful must it be, how truly, staggeringly awful, to live in a country where a person feels they can’t drive around in their car without having a gun in the glove compartment? Catch22. I live in a country where gun ownership is extremely restricted. There is still a certain amount of gun crime, but when I walk down the street the chance of actually meeting someone in possession of a gun is very, very small, I would not trade this for anything.

Gentry
15 years ago

The US is a hunting nation. It’s wrong to outlaw guns used for sport (either target practice or hunting). If guns don’t agree with you, move elsewhere (like France) where there are almost no animals left to hunt and target practice was never embraced with much enthusiasm.

Handguns are illegal here. And that’s the only reason we have so few shootings. (People still hunt boars and stag with knives). Add guns into our culture and we’d have mass murders too, I’m sure.

I don’t have one. I would rather die than fire one, but I don’t think guns should be illegal. I think insane people should be looked after.

mzmtg
mzmtg
15 years ago

I agree with JB, it appears. So does my wife.

Guns are tools. They are tools for throwing little pieces of lead and copper at high speeds in relatively straight lines.

Nothing more, nothing less.

It so happens that they are the ONLY tools that puts a 100 pound woman on equal footing with a 250 pound man in a physical confrontation.

They are the only tools that let a wheelchair-bound man have a real opportunity to fight back against a gang of young criminals.

The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to stand by and do nothing. With our current educational culture that teaches our young people to duck and cover, to give the mugger what he wants, to call 911 and wait for help and to just push the button on the blue campus emergency phones is teaching them to do just that, to do nothing in the face of evil.

Crime happens. It happens at home, it happens on the street, it happens at school. It ALWAYS will. There will ALWAYS be evil people willing to harm other people to get what they want.

The police, most likely, will not be able to help you. They take many vital minutes (at best) to respond and they are under NO legal obligation to provide protection for any individual. Their job is to protect “the community” at large…and to arrive after the fact to collect reports and evidence.

We, as responsible citizens, owe it to ourselves, our families and our communities to FIGHT BACK against evil every time it rears it ugly head. Self defense is a basic human right.

You (the anti-gun commenters here and elsewhere) may not want to use a gun to defend yourself. That’s fine, it’s your choice. But don’t dare tell me that I will be safer by letting the government take away my most effective tool for defense.

Deanna
Deanna
15 years ago

I LIVE IN TEXAS. We have guns here.

Hubby has 2 guns. Has had one since he was 8 and the other since early teens. He grew up in a rural area where that’s what boys were taught to do- handle gus safely and with normalcy.
My dad was a 26 year lifer in the Navy so guns- although not in our household- were understood and normalized.

But today with our kids things are so different. Our 9 year old is Autistic and we had to explain guns to him (and we have an officer explain it again each time we get a chance). Bro In Law is in law enforcement and carries a gun daily to protect and serve so when we go visit him, he helps with this.

I ask about guns before my sons go on playdates. I think way too many parents DO NOT ask about this because of whatever reasons. I am open (when asked) that we have 2 but they are in gun bags in the back of our closet- with trigger locks and locks on the bags and the keys are in a different room. But the only parents who have asked are ones I have asked first.

Funny side note: We had a big coral snake on the back patio and I had to keep an eye on it while it took hubby FOREVER to get the dang gun to shoot it. I’m outside hopping around freaking out trying to keep the cats away from this thing when the cat who caught it just wants her toy back.

Me- I have a paint ball gun. Yeah- I’m tough. I keep a loaded paintball gun on the top shelf in the pantry with the cylinder reader to screw in so I can use it to chase off wild dogs. We had a problem with them killing our cats last year and this was my solution. A gun. A nonleathal gun but a gun.
Deanna

kim
kim
15 years ago

I am a gun owner. No assault rifles (though my ex-military hubby would just love that) but a pistol and a few shot guns. Some of them are extremely old, handed down through many generations. My parents had guns, my brother hunts, but no one ever showed me how to shoot one. Just how to leave it the heck alone. It was always locked up in some dark corner in their closet and i was never tempted to go “play with it” They scared the crap out of me when explaining what it was. I don’t feel that was the right way to go about it, but I guess back then taking your kid to the range wasn’t exactly common place.

The first time I shot a gun was only about seven years ago. I felt the overwhelming potential of what I was holding in my hands, which made me intent on learning the safest and most responsible way to handle a weapon.

I like to equate the “take all the guns away” argument with the drug war. This is relevant in ANY country. Are drugs illegal? Yes. How many people in just this country are plagued with ILLEGAL drug addiction? Umpteen bazillion. If someone wants something, whether it is legal or not, they will get it. With this in mind, I will enjoy my privilege to have my LEGAL, REGISTERED guns to protect myself my husband and now most importantly my son.

Christina
15 years ago

I have to agree – anti gun all the way… With that said isn’t there a big difference between using a gun to hunt out in the wild and using a gun to slaughter innocent victims because someone is angry at the world?

Additionally, do we really want teachers, administrators and janitors carrying guns around schools in order to protect people against the above mentioned mentally unstable angry people?

What about taking care of our mentally ill? SO freaking many people pointed out the warning signs this young man had something wrong with him but not one of them could get it together to help him, take care of him. What about his parents and family? What about law enforcement? What about the very professor who called numerous times? Can we not get out of our little lives to help those with issues? Is this because our issues are so much bigger?

Additionally, the right to bear arms as it is written in our constitution was written in a different time. There were no automatic weapons that fired multiple times, that kill in that fashion. They were no less scary but they were also being used in a different fashion.

Finally, the glorification of guns is seen everywhere. We see it in movies and literature. We do not realize that while you and I might pass by these images with barely a second glance there are others out there who do not.

Media is also to blame. Okay, I was also fascinated by Anna Nicole but by god why in the world are we allowing this young man’s clear mental illness to be aired in public. As we all know other people are out there going ‘yeah man I want that fame – I want to be MORE famous then him. I am going to do this EVEN better.’

SO sadly the right to bear arms is a great theory but in practice in this day and age it needs to be better controlled and regulated. I am not saying restrict it from everyone but find a way to take care of the nation as a whole and also remember to have empathy for people with mental illness… take care of the community around you no matter what. Remember, it takes a village to raise a child.

lea
lea
15 years ago

My partner and I were raised on completely different planets when it comes to guns. She has never physically touched a gun and I received my first as a gift at the age of 12. Our family used guns for hunting and we were taught from an early age to respect guns – while owning a real life gun was acceptable we were not permitted to have toy guns of any kind. My father was an excellent teacher and we never had any problems with the guns in our house – guns were dangerous, serious, and were not toys and I still feel that way today.

Until recently, I would have welcomed guns into my house – I have several at my parent’s house which have a very sentimental value to me and they probably would have remained locked up and unused. However, my grandfather committed suicide last week (with a gun) and now I am finding that I despise them because of what they can do. Like everything though, guns exist for a reason and, because they last so long, they have the potential of being handed down from generation to generation. People should see and use guns as tools with a very specific purpose.

Susie
15 years ago

Wow. I just have to commend you and your readers. I find it very encouraging that, even with the relative anonymity provided by the internet, this has not developed into a knock-down, drag-out, name-calling flame-war. This is a thoughtful presentation and a civilized discussion about a difficult topic, one in which people are understandably very emotionally invested. There’s some great food for thought here… Keep up the good work!

mzmtg
mzmtg
15 years ago

Just to clarify some things that some posters seem to be misunderstanding:

The VT killer did not use any automatic weapons. He used two SEMI-automatic handguns.

He was judged to be in need of mental help, but he was never committed against his will. This is why he was able to legally purchase his guns in VA.

Automatic weapons (aka machine guns) fire more than one bullet when the trigger is pressed. Semi-automatic weapons fire only one bullet with each pull of the trigger.

Manufacturing, registration, and ownership of machine guns is legal, but VERY tightly regulated in the United States. One must pay a special $200 tax, get a form signed by one’s local police chief and get the paperwork approved by the BATFE. No new machine guns have been legally produced since the passage of the 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act. Only registered machine guns produced before 1986 may be transferred between private owners and the paperwork and $200 tax must be paid each time the guns change hands. The BATFE must also be notified when a machine gun owner wishes to transport their registered weapon across state lines for any reason. Since there are no new machine guns on the market, the existing transferable guns are very very expensive due to the finite supply and the nearly infinite demand. The absolute cheapest machine guns are at least $3000 these days. Full size, military type machine guns typically cost over $20,000 and some belt fed and crew-served weapons are well into six figures.. So, contrary to what one German newspaper published, it is NOT easier to get a machine gun than a drivers license.

Please don’t confuse machine guns and automatic weapons with semi-automatic guns. The terms are not interchangeable.

ang
ang
15 years ago

Ditto, Aunt Linda.

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