Gun ownership is a legal right in the United States, thanks to the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution. State laws are quite different, however.
Did you know that residents of Vermont may carry a handgun – either openly or concealed without a license?
Alaska has an open-carry law in all public areas other than schools, domestic violence shelters, courts, correctional institutions, and any non-restaurant place where alcohol is served for on-site consumption – as long as the person packing doesn’t imbibe.
Gun ownership is a touchy subject these days and is actually splitting families apart. A distraught mother wrote for advice to the syndicated column “Ask Amy” after she discovered that her responsible adult daughter sided with firearms advocates:
“This week, I discovered that my intelligent, hard-working, responsible 24-year-old daughter (who lives with me) is a gun owner! And it’s not a normal gun, either — it is a 40-caliber semi-automatic, and she has hollow-point bullets to go with it. Amy, this is the kind of weapon a criminal would possess!”
Many reputable gun manufacturers supply .40 tactical semi-automatic handguns, including Beretta, Smith & Wesson, and Taurus to the large market of legal, trained, and conscientious American gun owners. It can’t be denied, however, that these utilitarian pistols, in the wrong hands, are indeed used to commit crimes.
Bullets come in two main kinds: hollow point and full metal jacket. Hollow points are easy to identify by a deep dimple in the nose of the bullet. Full metal jackets are round-nosed lead bullets. Hollow points are deemed safer to use and have increased stopping power because they expand, umbrella-style, on impact. This creates more “knock down power” while preventing the round from passing right through its target and hitting something – or someone – unintended.
“Upset Mother” continued confiding her worst fears about her otherwise-competent daughter to the advice columnist:
“I love my daughter and would be so sad for her to move into a place that she would hardly be able to afford, but now I have to lock my bedroom door at night because I don’t know what she’s going to do. She says it is for emergencies. There have only been two home invasions in our neighborhood in the last 11 years.”
This mom was well within her rights when she issued the following ultimatum on her offspring:
“I’ve given her three choices: she can either give her weapon to me, sell it or move out in three weeks.”
According to Pew Research Center, “Three-in-ten American adults say they currently own a gun, and another 11% say they don’t personally own a gun but live with someone who does.”
More men than women own guns in the U.S. More country folk than city slickers own firearms. Political conservatives are twice as likely to possess a gun than their liberal counterparts (44 percent versus 20 percent).
Adults who own guns often became acquainted with them as children and learned how to treat them with safety and a healthy respect for the damage they can do. Guns are tools, not toys. Responsible gun owners never point a gun at another person unless self-defense requires this drastic action. In those (hopefully) rare instances, a trained shooter aims to kill.
Merely talking about handling firearms responsibly freaks a lot of people out, particularly those who have never been around trained gun owners. Fear is bred from ignorance (lack of knowledge).
Deborah Wallace is a teacher in a high-crime area of Baltimore, Maryland, “where gun violence is so common that in the space of 15 months, seven of the students at her high school were shot dead.” Cindy Chester is a suburbanite who lives 30 miles from Wallace.
You might think that the educator would be pro-gun for self-defense and the more rural resident would be anti-gun. But the reverse is true: 63-year-old Wallace thinks that guns are “a plague that needs to be eradicated,” while Chester expressed “regret that she did not have a gun at hand, and know how to use it, the day 10 years ago that her exboyfriend shot her. She lost her right leg and her unborn child.”
After an actual criminal goes on a shooting spree, anti-gun activists try to take everyone’s guns away – all 100 million of them – proposing legislative restrictions and making demands that, frankly, wouldn’t keep firearms out of the wrong hands. Such laws would effectively make victims out of all law-abiding and responsible gun owners.
In another twist of irony, the National Rifle Association, with its long history of gun education and responsible use, has been branded a “terrorist organization” by their opponents.
The majority of American gun owners are neither gang members nor plan to do anything illegal with their weaponry outside of home defense and personal protection. Most are blue-collar employees unworthy of being demonized by well-intentioned critics who have confused the tool with the motive to use it to commit a crime. (When a knifing murder goes public, no one demands a ban on cutlery.)
The fact is that gun ownership has done more good than harm because “homicide rates and gun accidents have fallen precipitously over the last half century as the number of Americans who chose to carry a concealed handgun has risen from around 1 million in the mid-1980s to over 15 million today.”
It is a sad state of affairs when parents and children can’t agree on gun ownership. There is no easy solution to this great divide but honest and open communication is a good start.
Rather than write to “Ask Amy” for advice and force her daughter into a quick and divisive decision, Upset Mom could have simply talked to her daughter and asked her why she felt the need to own a gun. Is that so hard?