Archives for September 2014

All I have are bullets (many of them literal)

  •  You may recall I fought very, very hard to keep guns off of Idaho’s college campuses. On day 6 of the semester, a gun went off in the middle of a class at a public university classroom on the other side of the state; a professor was negligent with his concealed firearm. Honestly, my money was on a student, later in the semester.
  • I hope the students in that class are allowed to drop the class without penalty, transfer to another section, and sue the state. (I know for a fact there is pro bono legal assistance available; if you’re one of those students or another who was impacted by this crime, you can get in touch with me and I’ll put you in contact with the right people.)
  • The concealed carry permit holders I spoke with who wanted this law passed all emphasized how highly trained they are before being issued this particular license. I was skeptical then, and I’m even more skeptical now.
  • A nine year-old with an Uzi. A 5-year-old with a shotgun. An 8-year-old boy with an Uzi. Why do people give guns to children? Why is it legal for children to use firearms?
  • I’ve seen people I admire post photos of their kids–some younger than Lucas–firing weapons. It chills me to the bone, and saddens me, too because both common sense and extensive research suggest this is not a good idea.
  • I’m sad so many of my friends, both male and female, live in fear at a time when crime rates are at historic lows.
  • In talking about recent incidents of gun violence, my mom and her sisters recalled my grandfather, a police officer who never really enjoyed being a police officer, told his daughters that “If you decide to carry a gun, do so knowing you likely will be killed by a gun.” (Research bears this out, by the way.) I’d extend his caution to family members: if you carry a gun, your family members are in jeopardy, too. (Especially in Idaho, which is second only to Kentucky in the number of domestic homicides committed with a gun.)
  • It frustrates me when proponents of less restrictive gun laws claim the statistics, and researchers’ interpretation of them, are not objective. As a professional researcher, I can assure you they are.
  • Here in Idaho, more of my friends own guns than don’t. They see guns as a solution to a problem that I see as improbable based on crime stats: the likely sudden outbreak of armed violence on a personal or community scale. And when there is an identified threat, the solution is always to be armed. Right now, there’s a lot of talk about a prowler breaking into homes in northwest Boise and its neighboring city, Meridian. I see locked windows and doors, good relationships among neighbors, a deep-barked dog, an alarm system, and neighbors’ willingness to call police as reasonable solutions. My friends suggest that a gun is solution #1.
  • It makes me profoundly sad to know that the odds are good that I will lose at least one of these friends to gun violence or negligence. I adore many of these people, and I know not all of them keep their guns stored in safes or with trigger locks. (One study showed that 43 percent of gun-owning households had at least one improperly stored weapon, and others demonstrate that firearms are not used in successfully in self-defense as often as people claim they are–in fact, they’re more likely to be used to escalate an argument or in ways that are illegal.)
  • It makes me sadder to hear, on many occasions, that my gun-owning friends have felt threatened by the mere presence of men who are not white—even, in one case, when being passed repeatedly by them on the highway.
  • I don’t mean to belittle these concerns—not at all. Rather, I’m profoundly saddened a (our?) culture has inspired these concerns.
  • I don’t know what the solution is, other than ending racism and increasing restrictions on gun ownership and access. Since ending racism is nigh impossible, I continue to work for the latter.
  • Some people think my sentiments here arise from a hatred of guns. Really, though, I feel as I do because of my deep love for people.