OT: me + guns + campuses

Shots were fired Sunday morning on my campus. Not a “shooting,” because no one got shot. An undergraduate who lives on campus parked his car in a parking garage and shot into a dormitory. Thank heavens, his aim wasn’t true and no one was hurt. There’s a big gouge in the wall of the dorm where the bullets struck it. The young man was identified, arrested, charged, and as of this afternoon, was being held on bail. He’s been suspended for the remainder of the semester. No explanation has yet been offered as to what possessed him to fire into a dorm. I don’t imagine we’ll get any explanation. The university hasn’t bothered to notify any staff member directly. We all read about it in the news.

This is the third time this has happened since I’ve worked here. One time, the perpetrator chose an apartment less than 100 yards away from mine in which to commit a particular phase of his crimes. I missed it only because I was in Wisconsin for mom’s funeral.

The last campus I worked on had an active shooter who kept the campus locked down for an entire morning before shooting himself in front of a group of students he was threatening. There’s tradition on that campus; three years before I was born, someone killed fourteen people there, sighting his prey from the campus bell tower. Great perspective: the rule when you shoot is that you need to keep in mind at all times where the bullet will go if it misses its target, and from there he could see the entire potential trajectory of his projectiles. Coincidentally the day Texas implemented its “campus carry” law (students who have concealed carry permits will now be able to bring their guns to the university and into classrooms with them) on the fiftieth anniversary of that event.

It’s entirely predictable, what will happen there. As this state seems to inherit version of the politics of that one, it will gradually happen here, too. Masses of people with poor impulse control, some of whom are learning how to use alcohol for the first time, cope with their emotions on their own for the first time, immersed in studies, staying up all night, in situations where they are likely to be emotionally stressed for personal or academic or financial reasons. Ask the average American college student how stressed s/he feels at any given moment. I’m guessing it’s at least an 8 on a 10 point scale, except maybe for twenty-four hours on the day after the term ends.

Yeah, put weapons in the hands of these people. That’ll go well. When it’s all over, the pro-gun people will offer their prayers. Cry their crocodile tears. Insist that we can’t talk about this now out of respect for the victims. Prevent us from ever talking about it.

I’m so tired of everything about this. As regular readers know, I grew up with guns in the house. My nieces got hunting rifles for Christmas two years ago.

About two years ago, though, I grew tired of insisting to my liberal friends that not all guns were evil. Because there was just too much evidence that most gun usage that we see every day is destructive. A responsible gun owner is a great thing, but a growing body of evidence suggests that fewer and fewer gun owners are responsible.

The guns closest to me aren’t supplying my table. They’re all aimed at me or my students.

Last night, I snapped, in yet another conversation with people from home about how all guns are good and must be allowed and how the evidence that we can see right before our very eyes about the increasing prevalence of gun violence is somehow not real, or if it is real, gun violence is the inevitable price of the infallible and immutable Second Amendment.

Just as the anti-gun people can’t accept that not every gun owner is a murderer, the hunters can’t accept that some guns are harmful and shouldn’t be available.

Meanwhile, the gun lobby insists that we get more guns. And people who believe what it has to say rush off after every incident of violence and buy a few more.

If you have the gumption to say that no matter the law, you don’t want guns around you when you’re at work, you’ll have them shoved down your throat — more threats. People who openly express their refusal to have guns in their classrooms get death threats. When I taught argumentation, I used to mention that arguments from force were not very credible. Convince me of the value of guns by holding one to my forehead. I get it. You win. I quit.

I’m just so tired. I signed up to be a researcher, and an educator, and then an academic adviser. I didn’t sign up to be a Marine or a policewoman or a spy. Bless G-d, I don’t live in a war zone. All I wanted to do was study some stuff and teach some people.

When I lived in Berlin in 2006, every now and then I’d find a building that still had bullet holes in it from the Battle of Berlin in 1945. Most of them were gone, but there were still a few, here and there in Mitte.

I wonder idly how long it will take to clear American college campuses of the bullet marks the gun lobby and its legislators are about to impose on them. It will be long after my death. Long, long.

~ by Servetus on October 13, 2015.

52 Responses to “OT: me + guns + campuses”

  1. I don’t know what the state-to-state laws are in acquiring a gun, but I think purchasing a killing device should be at least as tedious and bureaucratic to acquire as a drivers license. In no way should it be easier.
    The day teachers are armed in public schools is the day my daughter starts homeschooling.
    College students are exactly as you describe. It’s such a period of emotional extremes, pressure, and confusion — I can’t fathom how anyone can think of adding guns to the mix!


    • It took me 2.5 hours to get my last drivers’ license … I’ve never bought a gun but I wonder how long it takes.

      I don’t know why anyone thinks arming teachers is a good idea — see comment downthread about how things get lost ….

      Did I mention the hormones?


  2. I’m speaking as a public high school school teacher: I do not want a gun in my classroom. Too many cell phones, lap tops, keys, and purses have disappeared from classrooms over the years ( luckily not mine). Ones that were “locked” up. Students have a way of getting into things that they shouldn’t. You think they can’t get a hold of that gun in your desk drawer? They can. They will. 99 % of those students are too emotionally unstable and stressed out to have even inadvertent access to a fire arm.

    I do not want my colleagues to be armed. More than a few, over the years, have been just plain crazy. I do not want to work in a building where the angry, xenophobic teacher three doors down hates his ex-wife and by extension, all women, not to mention anyone who is genetically gifted with any shade of brown skin. News flash: just like in any profession, some teachers are crazy. Do not arm them. That’s what campus police are for.

    Yesterday in Las Vegas a ten year old died of a self inflicted gun shot wound in his home. We don’t know yet if it was accidental or a suicide. A ten year old. I wonder how well protected his family feels now, since no doubt that gun was bought for “self protection”.


    • I think this is one of the things that bugs me most, the assumption that all adults are sane. Because we all work with people who we probably would evaluate as “questionable.” They’re not mentally ill. I still wouldn’t want to be around them when they’re angry.

      Liked by 1 person

    • and that kid’s poor parents.


  3. Serv, I hear you. I tried to have a “reasonable” conversation with my hubby the other night about guns. Background – he is a conservative, Republican, pro gun. I am a Libertarian who grew up without a gun in the house. I would like to see restrictions on the type of guns/rifles (automatic) and magazines (high rounds). We also have a son who is on the autism spectrum, as well as ADHD, Tourette’s, and OCD. I’ve told my hubby there would be no weapons in this house.

    The Umpqua shooter and Sandy Hook shooter had mother’s who “bonded” with their son’s over guns. This makes me angry. However, none of our guns laws would have prevented these households from having a gun. It makes me angry when I hear people say that teachers should be armed and there needs to be armed security at public places. What does this say about our society? How soon people forget that there was armed security at Columbine. At Sandy Hook there were deterrents in place and in the span of 5 minutes 20 children were murdered. I don’t want to live in a country where my child attends a school with armed guards. I don’t want to live in a country where we have armed guards in movie theaters, restaurants, and shopping malls.

    While trying to have a reasonable conversation, I was trying to point out that other countries do not have mass shootings like we do. What are the common factors in most of these shootings? Young white males, some mental health issues, tend to come from middle class or above households, and access to guns. The only factor we don’t share with other first world countries is our 2nd Amendment. There is nothing in that Amendment that says a person has a right to an automatic rifle, or needs to have a 30 round clip.

    One side will point towards guns, the other towards mental health. I remember after Sandy Hook and VP Biden spoke about increasing mental health. As a parent who has accessed mental health services for our son, it is a JOKE. All my hubby could focus on was the mental health aspect. So who determines who is a potential risk? Very minority report-ish to me. So we ban certain people who have mh issues from accessing guns. That will work as well as preventing a prior DUI/suspended license person from driving again.

    I wish I had an easy solution. But these topics stick out. The amount of guns in our country, mental health issues, and politics and money. I also see this younger generation as a generation who really hasn’t had to struggle. They are growing up with others to fight their battles. From an early age they are being taught if something isn’t going right in their lives to tell an adult so the adult can fix it for them. When I was growing up all the kids roamed everywhere and we learned quickly how to deal with conflict. By having this freedom we built a confidence within ourselves. It wasn’t perfect, but we did not have the amount of suicides and mass killings like we have now.

    Sorry to ramble so much…like you, so tired of people dying from people holding a gun.


    • Mental health would be good all on its own — as a priority. I read yesterday somewhere, though, that less than 5% of shooters like these fall into the category of being mentally ill (unless you consider the act of committing a public shooting a sign of mental illness by definition).

      Our picture of “today’s youth” might differ. Our students are struggling and nothing is given to them. There are a few helicopter parents but nothing like I encountered in my previous job. It has a lot to do with which social segment one is looking at, I think.


  4. Als Deutsche beobachte ich die Waffenthematik immer wieder mit Fassungslosigkeit. Ich verstehe halbwegs, woher sie rührt, und trotzdem sind die Zeiten, als die Prärie weit war und hinter jedem Busch ein Indianer lauerte doch längst vorbei. Aber anders als bei uns, scheint dieses tiefverwurzelte Gefühl, sich “schützen” zu müssen, zum Selbstverständnis vieler Amerikaner zu gehören. Mit immer wieder verheerenden Folgen. Was für eine unheilvolle Spirale. Daran kann man echt verzeifeln.


    • I wonder why people think they need to protect themselves, too, insofar as crime rates having been steadily falling all over the US since the 1970s.


  5. Like Cramerry I am German and like her I am bewildered and truly shocked by the recklessness with which the U.S. allows babies, children, teenagers and adults to be shot just because of an amendment to the constitution. Amendments can be deleted and even constitutions can be changed. It is a democratic process. However, the necessary changes won’t happen. If my now 14-year-old nephew ever wants to spend a year at a school or a college in the U.S. I will do everything I can to persuade him to go elsewhere. I love him and I don’t want him to risk his life just by attending school… 😦


    • This is something that I don’t get — but it’s reflected a lot in the discourse around this issue: to some people the Second Amendment is G-d. I don’t feel that way; humans wrote the US Constitution and we can rewrite it (it includes a process for doing so), even if that is difficult. That is what democracy means — that citizens make the laws.

      I think some places are safer than others. But the mood all over at the moment is brutal. And the thing is that the places that used to be safe are changing. That foreign kid who got shot in a garage in the West somewhere was someplace fairly rural, I think.


  6. In April 1996, Martin Byrant killed 35 people and wounded 23 in the Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania. Surveys showed 85% of Australians wanted stricter gun controls but when the Government proposed revising the gun laws a small but vocal minority objected, citing civil liberties and accusing the government of playing on people’s revulsion at what had happened. Nevertheless, new laws were pushed through and a gun buy back scheme ( which cost the Government $350 million) initiated. Approximately 650 000 guns were handed in and Australia has not had a massacre since then.

    Bryant had never been diagnosed with a mental illness, despite reports of odd behaviours throughout his childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. He did have a low IQ and was on a disability pension but had managed to access multiple weapons and a car despite not having licences for either. Clearly it was easy for him to access very powerful weapons, mainly because there were so many out there.

    I’m heartened by this column and by the responses so far because as an outsider I’m scratching my head as to why anyone would defending their right to bear arms whilst their children die. Australia is a much smaller country but has similar demographics. If it can be done here, it can be done in the U.S.

    As a Mental Health worker, I would concur with the poster above who points out that angry people walk amongst us – sometimes it is terrifying to hear what is really going on in some people’s minds. As a mother, I don’t want my child being on a campus with guns- both for their sakes and for those charged with looking after them.


    • Bollyknickers, I basically told my hubby we will agree to disagree and drop the conversation. Before walking out of the room I told him, Maybe he would feel differently if it was his child that was killed.

      Now to put this into perspective as an American citizen living in suburbia, there is a much higher risk dying in a car accident than being killed by a gun.


      • I take your point valsgal – that despite recent events, the likelihood of dying by gunshot is still remote. I use the car accident analogy myself in my work – a male under 25 is more likely to die by suicide than in a car, a statistic which shocks most parents.

        However, the car accident comparison is a good one. In the 1970’s when Britain brought in laws mandating seat belt wearing and outlawing drinking and driving, my father was incandescent about the ‘nanny state’ infringing on his rights. The argument that cars had got faster, more powerful and more numerous did nothing to move him and he defiantly continued to drive home from the pub without his seat belt on for several years. But I doubt many people would argue that those laws aren’t good ones today.

        Which is a long way around of saying that just because a risk is small ( or not as large as another risk) doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be addressed if possible.


      • I wonder if the Second Amendment is the thing that makes drunk driving different from gun violence? Because there was a pretty successful movement here in the 1980s to crack down on that …

        I do think no one things it will happen to their own kid and 40 years ago that might have been a reasonable thought. My brother always says to me, “well, then, take yourself out of the line of fire,” but the problem is that the line of fire is extending everywhere now. Indeed, that seems to be what legislators want.


  7. Si en France les lois du port d’arme à feu sont très restrictives , n’oublions pas que la chasse fait des victimes humaines et animales .
    En France les chasseurs , qui ne trouvent plus de gibier sauvage tirent parfois sur les chats , les chiens , les oiseaux (pie, moineau, merle…) et bien entendu les écureuils …
    Les victimes peuvent être des humains aussi . N’oublions pas la macabre comtabilité de l’année 2014-2015 : 42 victimes collatérales , il s’agit de décès lors d’accidents de et à la chasse ( promeneur , jogger , cueilleur de champignons , compagon de chasse …) .
    “Les chasseurs plus dangereux que les malades mentaux ” , c’est le titre d’un article du blog du Dr Christian Colbeaux, psychiatre/psychanalyste à Lille, chef de service du CSAPA du centre hospitalier de Douai , tiré dun article de Bertrand Gilot , repris sur le blog de “Veggie pride” http://www.vegactu.com/divers/debat/les-chasseurs-plus-dangereux-que-les-malades-mentaux-10586/

    Bonne journée , le travail m’appelle , peut-être une traduction plus tard , désolée


    • Je n’adhère pas et ne cautionne pas toutes les idées véhiculées par le blog de “veggie pride”


    • If the laws in France against gun port are very restrictive, don’t forget that animal and human victims are also due to hunting .
      In France , hunters who no longer find wild animals to kill , sometimes kill cats, dogs, birds (magpie, sparrow, blackbird …) and of course also squirrels …
      The victims are human beings too. Do not forget the macabre accounts , during 2014-2015 , 42 collateral victims died by accident (walker, jogger, mushroom gatherer, hunting companion …).
      ” Hunting men are more dangerous fighters than mentally ill person ” is the title of a blog post of Dr. Christian Colbeaux, psychiatrist / psychoanalyst in Lille, CSAPA the department head of the hospital in Douai, shot of a section of Bertrand Gilot , taken on the blog “Veggie Pride” http://www.vegactu.com/divers/debat/les-chasseurs-plus-dangereux-que-les-malades-mentaux-10586/
      I do not agree and do not endorse all the ideas conveyed by the blog “veggie pride”


      • I think it depends on the hunter, but if you read the post that I linked above under “I grew up with guns,” you’ll catch my feelings about that question.


        • 🙂 of course I agree . But I would like and I hoped that I was proceeding in an other direction , an other point of vue , as you were up there. Sorry not to be able to find suitable words in english to express correctly my minds’ feelings .


        • Le psychiatre ne peut qu’avoir raison , compte tenu du nombre de morts par année (fou / chasseur ) et du nombre de jours où la chasse aux gibiers est ouverte . Malheureusement les statistiques seraient bien différentes , si la vente des armes était libre . Nous ne pouvons que nous en réjouir .

          The psychiatrist can only be right, considering the number of deaths a year (madman / hunter) and the number of days when the hunting season is opened. Unfortunately the statistics would be very different, if the sale of weapons were free. We can only rejoice at that prohibition , restriction initiative .


          • That’s fine. It’s just (as I tried to say) something that I’ve spent a lot of time both thinking and talking about in the past and that doesn’t interest me so much now.


            • Je comprends vos points de vue , vos considérations , qui sont ceux d’une habitante du “nouveau monde” soumise à ces stress , à sa conscience ,à ses interrogations sur ces événements horribles multiples . D’autres pays subissent d’autres genres de traumatismes : guerres , attentats , crimes passionnels ou de fous …
              Chacun à une expérience , un vécu particulier . A moins d’avoir un discours conventionnel , il m’est difficile de me projeter dans l’affect de l’autre et trouver un commentaire éclairé innovant , non compassionnel ou consensuel .
              I understand your views, your considerations, which are those of a resident of the “new world” under such a stress, her conscience, her questions about these horrific multiple events. Other countries suffer other kinds of trauma: wars, terrorist attacks, passions’ or mad persons’ crimes …
              Everyone has an experience, a particular life . Unless to have a conventional speech, it is difficult for me to project myself into the affect of a stranger and find innovative illuminated comments , not compassionate or consensual.


  8. Like the German ladies above I watch in amazement and yes, horror, at how strong the pro-gun lobby is! Simplistically stated: if all guns are banned, there will no need for ‘self-defence’ either…


    • I’m starting to tend in that direction. Yes, some people would get guns, still, but the stupid deaths (little kids accidentally shooting their siblings) would end.

      Some people have also proposed that gun owners should have to carry insurance — that the insurance industry is a good assessor of risk and that this would kill the market for certain kinds of guns as they would become uninsurable.


      • Yes, that may be a nice starting point.
        I like the Dutch law that says all weapons (so not only guns but also certain kinds of knives and such) are forbidden. If you want to own a gun you have to apply to the police for a permit and the permits are renewed yearly. The permits issued are also subject to certain rules and regulations. https://www.rnw.org/archive/gun-laws-netherlands
        It doesn’t mean that shooting incidents don’t happen here, we have had a few here as well that were horrifying, but shootings tend to be more within criminal circles and are far less common than they seem to be in the US.


  9. Zum Glück sind die Waffengesetze bei uns strikt. Aber es passiert immer noch zuviel, auch wir hatten Amokläufe an Schulen 😦
    Vor ein paar Tagen kam in den Nachrichten ein Video wie die Türkei oder Putin (weiss nicht mehr wer) die PKK Stellungen beschießen lässt. Man sieht ein Fadenkreuz auf einer Landkarte und die Rakete wird abgeschossen – wie im Computerspiel. Es ist so einfach aus einem Spiel Realität zu machen. Man drückt nur noch auf einen Knopf und Menschen sterben 😦 In den Computerspielen aber auch in den Actionfilmen in Fernsehen und Kino wird es uns doch vorgelebt, die Helden rennen durchweg mit gezogener Knarre durch die Gegend. Wie oft ist unser OdB schon mit Pistole im Einsatz durch die Gegend gerannt……
    Nein ich will Computerspiele nicht verteufeln. Meine Kids spielen auch die “üblichen” Spiele wie Call of Duty etc. Wenn mein Sohn mit Maschinenpistole durch irgendwelche Gängeläuft und wilde drauf losballert finde ich das nicht amüsant. Aber ich hoffe einfach, er kann zwischen Computerspiel und Realität unterscheiden und sich der Faszination vielleicht irgendwann in der Realität eine Waffe tragen zu wollen, entziehen….


    • As far as I know, that’s how a lot of the airstrikes the US conducts abroad are done, too. I think from a facility somewhere in the western part of the US.

      I think it’s what happens when the computer game becomes the entire reality that’s frightening. I think most teens still distinguish between “game” and “real.”


  10. That is so scary! But I’m glad that you’re okay. And I’m with you in believing that “concealed carry” isn’t the answer for schools or communities in general. How can anyone reason that to prevent gun violence, we need to have more guns? I shake my head.

    As always, your post here was an excellent essay/op-ed about relevant issues facing us today. Thanks!


    • Thanks.

      I think the problem is that to be effective with a gun, you have to practice a lot and know how to use it. In my experience most people are rank amateurs.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I find myself stuck in the middle of this debate as well, coming from a similar background where guns (of the hunting variety) were a common thing to see in households. a high level of respect always accompanied them, being stored in locked cases, not to be shown off or played with. which begs the question: do you have to kill something with a gun/see something that has been killed with one, before you can respect them? I never cared for them much myself, though I can appreciate the sport of target shooting- as long as the target isn’t a living thing. you can openly carry a gun in my state, so I see them on the hips of ordinary citizens more often than I would like. that thought does not make me feel protected from the “bad guys”, it makes me nervous. has this citizen been properly trained? what level of respect do they have for that gun? can I trust them to make sound decisions in the blink of an eye? too often I feel gun ownership these days is a form of rebellion. that is not a comforting thought.


  12. I’m always shocked when I hear about guns – and pro-gun lobby – in the US.
    @squirrel 0072: La chasse, un éternel problème en France….Mais quand tu dis que le port d’arme est plus restrictif – et il l’est, heureusement – je rappelle quand même qu’il est très facile de se procurer une arme illégalement. Je connais des quartiers où les coups de feu résonnent trop facilement, hélas…. (et ce ne sont pas les pétards du 14 juillet).
    Quant à la chasse, franchement, je ne supporte pas la mentalité des “chasseurs français” …(si tu vois ce que je veux dire^^)


    • Ame sensible s’abstenir !!!! ” Not for the squeamish” !!!

      I recommend to all the cynegetics – phobic francophiles, the legendary but very incorrect, very rough sketch of “les Inconnus “, charmingly named : ” ” the small greyhen’s shooting in the Bouchonnois.
      Je recommande à tous les francophiles phobiques de la cynégétique , le cultissime , mais très incorrect , très grossier sketch “des Inconnus” , délicieusement nommé : “La chasse ” à la galinette cendrée dans le Bouchonnois .

      Je préfèrerais écrire sur :
      – les dieux et déesse de la chasse Artémis , Diane , Skadi , Ull ,Cernunnos , Arduinna , Abnoba , Lugh … pour ceux qui me sont proches . La virginité et la virilité sont des notions déjà sous jacentes .
      – l’expression de la virilité masculine dans l’exercice des armes à feu ,
      – les circulations des armes de tout calibre à travers les frontières depuis la chute de certaines dictatures et leur apparition dans les cités … n’est-ce pas LadyButterfly . Je suis sur la même longueur d’onde que vous , mais habitant , travaillant et me sentant plus proche , plus près de la nature …

      I’d rather write about :
      – The gods and goddess of hunting Artemis, Diana, Skadi, Ull, Cernunnos, Arduinna, Abnoba, Lugh … for those which are close to me. Virginity and virility are already underlying concepts there .
      – The expression of male virility in the use of weapons ,
      – The circulation of weapons of all calibres through borders since the fall of dictatorships and their appearance in row areas … LadyButterfly , we are on the same wavelengh , but I live , work and feel closer to nature …

      Liked by 1 person

  13. 😦 as i read your title all i could think of was students.. alcohol.. guns 😦
    I will never be able to understand how people think who justify the ownership and use of guns by private people. I have a hard enough time accepting their use by police. There is no point in debating even i think, views are so set.
    I do hold on to the hope that the views will change and the tide will turn, but it is incredibly sad to think about how many more victims there will be before the tide turns and even if a law were to be enforced today how many years will have to pass before people actually give up guns and their use and stop considering them as a normal part of daily life. 😦
    Things like these are very dark reminders.
    I am happy you are ok and i just wish your campus was safer :-(( and all campus’ were safe…


    • I think Americans have a hard time with the information that big chunks of foreign police forces don’t have guns as a part of normal practice.

      Thanks for the good wishes.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. To the person who came here to pick a fight: not today. I may not be able to keep guns out of my immediate vicinity but I can keep belligerents off my blog.


  15. I’m another one who is used to guns – grew up in a rural area, had a hunting license, still enjoys antique firearms – but believes that they’re far too easy to get and that no one needs a damned assault rifle. The only (small) comfort I see is that the more ridiculous the NRA and pro-gun lobby becomes, the more moderate gun owners back away from them. I’ve known several lifelong NRA members who gave up their membership in recent years.

    I’m sorry this happened on your campus, and I hope that you and everyone around you stays safe.


    • I’ve been reading lately that the NRA doesn’t really represent its own membership on a lot of issues — like 85% of NRA members favor universal background checks, too.

      He used a Glock .45 ACP — the only purpose of that weapon is to kill a human.


  16. It must be terrifying to have gun violence so close to you. Campus violence is extremely disturbing. I feel gun violence in general is expanding and something must be done.

    I live in a mid size American city and we averaged one shooting every 32 hours for the entire summer. These were not high profile shootings and were barely mentioned in the media.

    I came across another very disturbing statistic this week: “There have been 1,516,863 gun-related deaths since 1968, compared to 1,396,733 cumulative war deaths since the American Revolution.” The article is found here: http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2015/aug/27/nicholas-kristof/more-americans-killed-guns-1968-all-wars-says-colu/

    When are we as Americans going to say we need to put a stop to this killing? It can’t be soon enough. Thanks for bringing up such an important topic. Tree


  17. There’s the whole issue of the “right to defend one’s property”. It made sense when settlers spread across the continent which later became the US. Back then, firearms were a means to ward off intruders, outlaws, and natives, to protects one’s family and property.
    I cannot see the point of owning a weapon today. I guess I have a very European stance on the issue. If strict weapon control were imposed in the States, all firearms and other weapons would have to be registered, and access to firearms or any weapon would be restricted.
    When impressionable, young people – and criminals – are denied easy access to these weapons, shootings at schools, in the homes, on the streets would be reduced significantly.
    True, you can never eliminate the odd perpetrator, who gets hold of an illegal (and expensive) weapon, but does it make us safe to own a weapon, when we know that every one else also has got one. I don’t think so.


    • I think the “right to defend one’s property” should apply to people living in remote, rural properties, too. There are places here in Nevada where the nearest neighbor or law enforcement is hours away. I worry about my parents because their house is fairly far out in the desert. They are not spring chickens anymore. But we aren’t gun people.

      The real,problem, I think, is the NRA. They are a lobbying group with lots of money representing a vocal minority that can’t be reasoned with.


      • Lobbyists have far too great a power IMHO.
        If access to weapons were regulated, e.g. by imposing legislation, a hunting rifle would have to be registered thus not rendering your parents completely defenseless.
        My point is that far too many people have access to guns/weapons which shouldn’t be allowed near them.
        Most farmers I know have rifles for hunting purposes. It’s part of being close to nature, I guess. They have a hunting permit and registered their weapons with the authorities, ammunition can only be purchased in certain stores, and when not in use, their weapons are kept in a secure and locked space. Rifle and ammunition are kept separate and away from others, i.e. children, when not in use.


    • Well, the constitutional justification for the right to bear arms isn’t justified on the basis of property (although plenty of other things are) — solely on the basis of the need for a well-ordered militia.

      I think if you are a farmer and you have animals, you need a gun.


  18. Like other Australians I am bewildered by the whole gun issue in the USA. It seems that gun ownership is so deeply entwined with the notion of freedom that to suggest sensible gun laws that restrict access is considered akin to restricting freedom (surely freedom from violence is more important?). As you mentioned Servetus mental illness is only a factor in a small number of gun related deaths (except suicide, of course). I believe the research shows that those with mental illness are overwhelmingly more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it.

    Restricting access to firearms is vital (as the Australian experience shows)… but it could be that even if sensible restrictions were put in place there are already way too many guns readily available in the community for such laws to have a big impact (which is why Australia had a gun buy back scheme). But cultural change needs to start somewhere. Re-examining the American concept of ‘Freedom’ might be a worthwhile endeavor, too. As the deaths continue to mount, the cry of freedom rings ever more hollow.


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