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Why do you like and/or own a gun?

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Living in a bubble can be comforting. There is no tension at dinner parties and no arguments on vacations. You are constantly fed “proof” that supports the way you think, which makes you feel smart and good and “right”. But when your whole world is an echo chamber it makes certain subjects absolutely incomprehensible – and I’m not being superlative, there are things that I just don’t understand and I have no one to ask because everyone in my bubble is asking the same question or regurgitating judgmental answers that aren’t necessarily progressive, nor do they feel accurate.

The day after the election, when I asked you why you voted for Trump it was out of utter curiosity because I was desperate to learn more about why one would check his box. And I learned SO much. Your responses and the dialogue that ensued really changed my view on America – it didn’t change my politics, mind you – but it made me really respect the the experiences of many of you who think differently than I do. “Oh, That’s why…”  I felt that at least mentally I could wrap my head around the whys and relate more to other Americans. Newsflash, folks: listening to different viewpoints is enlightening. Duh.

So today’s question is another one in which I’m desperate for your input:

Why do you own and/or like guns?

I’m sincerely hoping that those of you who love and appreciate guns can help those of us who don’t understand your views.

If you are curious about my stance on guns, here you go:

I’ve shot a 22 at pop cans with my family in Wyoming and it was fun. I’ve shot a machine gun at a firing range in Vietnam where my adrenaline spiked faster than those bullets (its a weird tourist thing). I realize these are not everyday gun shooting scenarios but they are all I’ve got. Despite being a less than great shot (but i’m not bad), the energy was intense, the destruction of the target was immediate, and the power in my hand was palpable. Holding a gun feels awesome.

It’s precisely that power which scares me the most. If everyone in America was mentally balanced, had strong moral compasses, and an appreciation for humanity I’d be less worried. If everyone in America had a healthy childhood, never suffered from violence, and had the mental tools to deal with conflict in a non-violent way, I wouldn’t be worried.

But that’s obviously not the reality.

When you hold a gun you feel powerful and I think it’s because you know that what you are holding in your hand can, in fact, destroy something or someone else in a second. Not that you want to, but you are very aware of the possibility. Because let’s be clear, that is the point of a gun. Guns are meant to kill, destroy, and remove life from something else. It’s not always premeditated, obviously. It might be for personal defense, sport or hunting game, but it is meant to KILL and there is is a shit ton of power in that. I mean, on a base level what is actually more “powerful” than the ability to destroy something near you?

There are a lot of people who feel powerless in life for a myriad of extremely sad reasons.  As hard as it is to remind ourselves, mass killers were once innocent babies too and for whatever reason they likely had a void of love, stability, attention or weren’t given the tools (or help) to heal, succeed or be happy. And that baby, now grown, given the chance to feel some power, or maybe to feel anything at all, might take it. If triggered they might, in fact, pull that trigger. When we call it ‘sense-less’ it often really means just that – they feel nothing. The latest shooter went to Wal-Mart to grab deoderant and then to Macdonald’s to grab a filet-o-fish after killing 17 high school kids (we don’t know what he really bought). That void of sense isn’t the result of having a normal, healthy life. It’s just not. And yet there is no multiple choice questionnaire or blood-test to find out how broken someone is or what their potential threat might be to society before they buy an AR15 or M16.

But that’s probably not you or most of us. And to be clear I don’t want to take away your guns.

But I understand and appreciate your need to feel safe – I want to feel safe, too, which is why I have a fancy home security system. To each their own. I understand that having a handgun provides you some comfort for personal defense. Just because I don’t want to own a gun doesn’t mean that I want to take away the right of responsible, highly checked and trained adults to buy a handgun for personal protection or a rifle for sport (assuming you store them in safes where no child could ever find or accidentally obtain access). The main reason I’m not campaigning to take your guns is because its clear that being totally anti-gun is futile and will further no progress. I am am personally very anti-gun, but I just want compromise with the hopes of more safety and less tragedy. I want stricter gun laws. More regulations. Less access to military style rifles that can kill so many so fast.

But man, I feel hopeless and helpless.

Policy And Change Ktzhu Copy Emily Henderson Guns Yes Or No Graphic Policy Change
Photo Credit: Katie Zhu

We all  know why politicians won’t change the laws – they are being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the NRA to essentially not regulate guns and vote pro-gun policy. I get that. Frankly, I think they are cowards, but I don’t think they are necessarily bad people. They also just do not have the same fears and vulnerabilities of normal people because they and their children or grandchildren are more protected and privileged. It’s the same reason why they don’t advocate for public schools or universal health care – it’s not like they sent their kids to public school (or would now) so they can’t relate at all and therefore they don’t see its value or necessity.

But they would have voted differently on that AR15 ban if one of those children had been at Sandy Hook or Parkland.

I know why politicians aren’t trying to ban military style weapons, but I don’t understand why normal citizens are opposed to more gun restrictions and banning the AR15 or M16. I don’t understand why people think strangers should be able to buy guns online via the gun show loophole, without an effective background check. I don’t know why someone would be opposed to strict background checks and wait times for any gun store. Or maybe you do and most of you who own a gun really do want more restrictions. I know that a lot of moms read this blog and I can’t fathom that anyone with a child thinks that this weeks shooter should have been able to easily buy that AR-15 at a local gun shop, mentally ill or not.

I know, truly, that there are two sides to every story and I NEED to hear the other side because I’m sad and feeling so helpless and hopeless.

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So in the name of gaining knowledge, understanding and to create an important dialogue, I’d love to invite comments from those of you outside of my liberal bubble – those of you who own or like guns.  You can be anonymous and enter a fake email (people do it all the time),  I want you to be as honest as possible.

The main questions are:

-Why do you own a gun?

-As a gun owner do you think that there should be more restrictions and tighter gun laws? If not, why?

 – Do you think that AR-15s should be legal for purchase? 

Let me be clear – this is NOT a political conversation. Obviously, this is a very passionate subject and it’s easy to get angry and words might fly out of your fingers that can take the conversation in an ugly direction. But this space will remain void of trolls and bullies (aka we’ll delete anything that feels disrespectful). My general rule is that if you wouldn’t verbally say it to an eight year old, find a way to rephrase it. We have an opportunity to listen to each other and learn and we shouldn’t squander it with generic rhetoric, judgment or digression.

Because if knowledge is power then maybe learning from each other is the only way we can become more knowledgable and more powerful than the piece of dangerous metal called a GUN.

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Terra Maggiolino

I live in Texas. When I was growing up, the boys came to school with guns in the gun racks in their trucks! We do not own a gun in our household, because I had three sons, and I was always worried about the boy/gun connection, and didn’t want to have to worry about that. However, I and my husband were both in the military, and we know how to use/care for guns properly. (To be honest, I’d like to have a shotgun, now, for home security.) I do NOT believe that military-style weapons, such as assault rifles should be available for purchase to non-law enforcement individuals, period! We do need to change the laws regarding assault rifles. But, kids’ games, movies, cartoons, etc., are all way too violent, and when kids look at that on a daily basis, they get immune to the violence. Parents need to do their jobs as parents – teach the kids that violence is not the way to deal with things. And, we need to get back together as a country. We are all way too divided, and all the anger is trickling down to our kids. My son, who is a policeman/reserve officer… Read more »

JessMB

Terra, thank you, your husband and son for your service. I grew up an “army brat” my father did have a gun but along with that gun EXTENSIVE gun training. I think it’s ridiculous for people who have not been through extensive background checks and training to be able to have a gun. Our kids are young (same age as Emily’s) we try to focus on just what you said, getting along!
I do have to admit though, I let my husband keep a pellet gun, our house is in Arizona, we back up to the desert and occasionally want to scare an animal off because of the small kids and our dog…but I don’t think that counts as a gun. However I think we could scare off a burglar with it!

Melanie

In October I found this comment on EHDs comment section and there is nothing to add:

“I think we have unintentionally culture of violence in our country. Art reflects what a society values and our music, television shows, movies and video games are filled with murder, mass murder, rape and incest. I don’t believe this reflects our society’s true values but I can see how a profoundly mental ill individual would come to believe any of these violent acts are normal because these images surround them. “

Jill

All true, but once again other countries like Australia and the U.K. with strict gun control have all of the same influences yet MUCH lower gun deaths. 3.6 deaths per 100.000 in the US. The next closest is 0.5 in Canada. Clearly access to guns makes a difference.

Carlene

Yes, I’m Australian so I can vouch that our kids are subject to all the same issues – video games, screen time etc. The difference is that in Australia, not only do most people have absolutely no interest in owning a gun (the thought wouldn’t event cross our minds), but if we did then govt regulations make it very difficult achieve. Every time another American gun shooting make news, it’s harder and harder to accept that such a simply solved issue can be so difficult to achieve and the fact that the blockade is money is infuriating.

Larissa

Another Aussie here. We definitely have the same worries about violence and screen time that there are in the US. The concept of owning a gun is strange and very foreign to most of us here.

I have one friend who owns a gun (for sporting purposes) and the amount of background checking etc that had to happen before he had permission to purchase one was extensive. There are also very strict regulations on the storage of weapons. This makes me rest easy, knowing that it is hard to legally purchase a weapon.

Yes, if you really want to, you can get a gun through illegal means, but I think the numbers prove that our strict gun laws make a real difference.

Check out John Oliver’s piece on gun control from a few years back for a brilliant, witty look at gun control in Australian versus US (http://www.comedycentral.com.au/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart/videos/john-oliver-on-gun-control-in-the-us-vs-australia).

Kate

Canadian here (French-Canadian actually so, sorry for any spelling mistakes). I feel we think the same way. The though of someone owning a gun (or many guns for that matter) is just so… unusual? Almost weird. I mean, I know people who hunts but they do not have automatic weapons and they really need to go through an intensive background check. Maybe not as severe as in Australia especialy since the end of the Gun Registry (thanks Harper) but still a lot more thorough than in the U.S. for what I’ve heard. We simply don’t have that…. culture? When someone says they own a gun, we automatically become suspicious like: why? for what? do you have kids? do they have access to the gun? do you take care of it? etc. I remember when I was young, I was babysitting and the dad had many guns for hunting. They were in a secure cabinet with an electronic pad and a physical lock, in a closed office but still, I always felt unsafe when I was passing by that room. This is a feeling that many of my friends and family share as well but I guess this is exacly the… Read more »

Maria

There is ample evidence that people with mental health issues are no more likely to be involved in violent acts than those without diagnosed mental health issues. If you are interested in reading more, this is a good link: https://ontario.cmha.ca/documents/violence-and-mental-health-unpacking-a-complex-issue/.

It is dangerous to stigmatize an already at risk community by blaming mass shootings on them. Please reconsider voicing such views.

CiCi

I think that while most people can play violent video games in a healthy way, some people can’t. Just like some people can binge drink on a Friday night out with friends and not having a drinking problem, while alcoholics cannot even have one sip. Some people can watch “intense” pornography as a release, while in others it may encourage them to act out those behaviors. It’s very subjective.

Outside of video games, I think superhero movies are a huge issue in our society (especially because of how popular they are right now). Have you ever thought to look at the collateral damage the “hero” causes in pursuit of the bad guy? Sure he saved “the city,” but what about the 18 apartment buildings that got destroyed in the process – how many people were in those buildings? These movies glorify the pursuit of righteousness above all else, so I think people are conditioned to believe the end justifies the means. And, if you’re an alcoholic, sexual deviant or violence lover, your “end” may be worth the means to you and that’s dangerous.

Lisa

Not a gun owner. I will say however that from my readings on Twitter, and discussions there, it seems as though many gun owners feel their guns to be a symbol, almost, of them being able to stay safe in a world where the government and other people are probably out to dominate/rob/harm them. So gun regulation becomes a kind of proxy for a very deeply seated emotional belief about the world.

Lisa

And to add, Emily, your description of how it felt to hold a gun really resonated. I bet it is about that feeling of power, and its opposite, that your power is at risk every day.

Kim Miller

My husband and I own guns. Many women I know are purchasing guns and obtaining conceal carry permits. It’s not a fashion accessory or something we take lightly. We are doing this so we may protect ourselves and others if necessary. There is an inherit difference when you see so many fleeing during a crisis and a few that actually confront the danger in order to save lives. As far as us fearing the government taking away our civil rights, we are not concerned about that. They failed to track their own guns which resulted in the death of American citizens. They are neglecting to act on VERY credible information being given to them that would have prevented this senseless violence time after time again. Would you rather trust you or your loved ones life to a law abiding, caring, unselfish citizen trained in the event of an attack, or would you rather at that exact moment trust our government to do their jobs?

Emily

Hi Kim,

Do you have any concern with taking down a shooter in a public space with your own weapon? I own a gun and have thought about getting a concealed carry permit, but at the end of the day I’m not sure I would trust my shot (& I’m a good shot!) in a crowd of people. What if you missed and shot an innocent person? Has that thought ever bothered you? Interested in knowing your answer! I’m the only one of my girlfriends who handles guns so I’m curious.

Katie

Imagine a scenario with an active shooter in a school and well-intentioned people with guns, possibly well trained, but also maybe not, shooting back. Now first responders enter that environment. How are they to know who is dangerous and who is not? How can we guarantee those people with guns won’t miss and hit a kid as well? From my point of view, more guns isn’t the answer and you may disagree. But maybe we can agree to a liscensing system that can give us some peace of mind. Nothing is going to be perfect, but not losing more children has to be worth trying something.

Emily

Katie,

I agree, I don’t think more guns is the answer and I definitely do not think we should be bringing more guns into schools. Apart from the completely daunting atmosphere that would provide kids, I would be worried that bringing in guns around kids would have the same effect as it did with providing heavier armor for our police officers. I know that’s a whole other very sensitive topic, but it seems that more emphasis has been put into ending situations rather than deescalating them (as opposed to how law enforcement is trained in many other countries). It makes me nervous to see how that could play out in schools.

I was more so asking about just being in general public places. Like I said, I wouldn’t personally feel comfortable shooting in a public space, but I am curious if others do.

T

Everyone thought the Las Vegas shooter was a caring, normal, law abiding citizen too – until he did what he did.
The fact that everyone is defending gun ownership by stating you’d rather have a gun to protect yourself from someone else with a gun, is totally missing the point. As are those who believe it’s a right to own one. Or that they can do a better job taking down a shooter than those in law enforcement.
Generations who grow up with guns can only imagine life, and these situations, with guns IN it. When you can realise that life can, and does, exist elsewhere without them, only then you will be able to legislate and stop these killings.
Wishing you all luck. Your kids deserve more.

Stacey jensen

What the hell is a conceal carry permit?! I take it that it allows you to carry a gun in public?
What?!
I live in Australia & to me, that sounds insane!!! I would not feel safe in America knowing people next to me could be carrying a gun. I know it sounds crazy to alot of Americans to restrict/tighten gun laws, but trust me, our gun laws work. I honestly for the life of me cannot understand the current American laws regarding guns. I just can’t get my head around it.

Stacey jensen

And to add to my comment, a conceal carry permit just sounds to me like placing a problem ontop of another problem. Crazy!

Rebecca P

Hi Stacey,

My BIL has a conceal carry, which I didn’t even know until Sunday! He can carry in public, almost anywhere. We were at a nice restaurant in Nashville eating brunch, and I asked him if he had it with him right then and he said yes. I have no idea where he puts it because I couldn’t see it and it wasn’t obvious to me at all that he had a gun. He’s also in the military and has been trained to use a gun.

Kelly Berry

Chicago, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Las Angelos do not allow permits to carry concealed guns and have very strict gun laws so they should be the safest citiies in our country right?
Mexico does not allow guns at all. How are they doing?

Lindsay

The point here is that semi-automatic weapons are unsafe for the general public to have, it doesn’t have to do with concealed carry guns so you have a moot point. Additionally, Mexico’s government is ridiculously corrupt so that point really doesn’t hold any water either.

Deb

Thank you for pointing out that fact! Chicago has historically had more shootings than any other city in the US, and it has imposed some of the strictest gun regulations in the nation. The problem with banning guns is that criminals have no qualms breaking the law and will then be the only people who are armed. The problem in America isn’t guns, the problem is that our families are broken, respect for others Is gone, children aren’t being taught the difference between right and wrong, morality is no longer taught- in the name of the separation between church and state, In the absence of God there is no punishment for bad deeds if you don’t get caught. We don’t acknowledge our neighbors and there is no community, no sense of a collective well being or a network of people to support us when we fall, just individualism.

Deb- NC

Emily I can’t even go to this conversation yet in any kind of a civilized manner so will refrain from voicing my thoughts. But I truly want to commend you for being willing to bring it up on your blog which a lot of bloggers would not do – no shame on them – because it’s a risk to a part of your business/brand. Your questions are valid and your approach sounds truly open minded so I hope you get calm rational information in response. I’ve always lived in a similar bubble to yours but have lived in western NC now for 3 years and this is something I struggle with almost daily now. Thanks for sticking your neck out.

Anon

Hi, Deb. Am curious about the details. The western NC I know is full of raccoon hunters. Is there a problem with assault guns and/or public shootings?

Em

Hi Anon,
great question…although perhaps sarcastic. But in short…YES. Born and raised in western NC and experienced a school shooting while in 6th grade at Burns Middle School. You should check it out. I think when we ask questions like yours (whether drenched in sarcasm or not) we will find no place is immune to this issue.

Natalie

We have two handguns, which spend 99% of their time locked in their cases. Occasionally we take them to a shooting range. We also have no children in the house and have no illusions that we would be able to protect ourselves from intruders with these guns (just logistically getting them out of cases, loading them, etc, much less actually being of clear enough mind to go for the gun in that situation). Both of us absolutely believe that there should be more gun control laws: serious background checks, waiting periods, mandatory training, smart technologies… And there is absolutely no reason for assault rifles to be in the hands of anyone who isn’t military (and even that is a can of worms but another debate). I don’t even think the police should have assault weapons because they tend to misuse them.

Thank you for starting this discussion because there are a range of gun owners and I think most of us are more sensible than the NRA would like. Most of us aren’t clinging to deadly metal while shouting about the Second Amendment.

Catherine

I own a 20 gauge semi-automatic shotgun because it was gifted to me by my father. I use it to go duck hunting with my husband a few times a year and also to shoot sporting clays (like skeet) at the shooting range occasionally. My husband is an avid duck hunter and has probably 12 guns of various types, including an AR-15. My brother probably has 30 guns, as does my father, who mostly collects World War 2 rifles. For reference, my husband and I are 30 years old, my brother 35, and my father 70. My father is the type of person on the complete opposite end of the political spectrum that you struggle to understand during these times. He refers to democratic politicians as “gun grabbers” and is a proud NRA member. I think he is so set in and comfortable with these beliefs he has held his entire life that he has no interest in challenging them. When all you listen to is Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and other people who agree with you, why would you challenge your beliefs? It’s easier, it’s comfortable. He is 70 and set in his ways. He likes his guns… Read more »

Dina

Catherine thank you for this really thought out response. I live in Boston in a bubble (I assume) not dissimilar from Emily’s so I want to learn whatever I can from this discussion. I want to understand – are you saying that these kind of mass shooting tragedies are just something we have to accept? Like this is just how it is, as sad as it may be?

Rachel

That last line stood out to me too, but I read it a different way… If there are already 270 million guns in America (I didn’t fact check this but it sounds about right), then even if all new gun sales were immediately banned and you could not buy a gun from a store, there are still TONS of guns for sale and easily accessible. I’ve seen guns on craigslist! That’s something I really never thought about before – is it too late? Is this just how it is in America? I don’t necessarily think so, but restricting the sale of new guns is not going to stop the flow or access to guns if someone really wants them. People talk about mental health resources as another factor in preventing mass shootings, and maybe that’s another important part of it. I don’t know. It all feels too big to combat.

Stacey jensen

You have to start somewhere though…

Heidi

Hi Rachel…An Aussie here – When the Federal Goernment here did the gun law “amnesty”, they allowed people to hand in guns (that were then destroyed, quite publicly). Yes, there will always be guns available to be bought illegally, as there still are here in Australia, BUT people who had one and didn’t need it or didn’t use it, turned it in and were relieved about the fact hey didn’t have to constantly think about having one. It’s a different mindset here in Australia. I guess it’s more about not feeling afraid of society/in society. Maybe that’s why Trump won the election there, because he preyed on the people fear?!

Chandler

It’s not too big to combat, it’s just too big to see immediate results, which is why most people shrug it off as impossible. Remember that 150 years ago you could legally purchase another human being in this country. Opinions change. Laws change. It won’t happen overnight but we can definitely make a dent that future generations can keep chipping away at until eventually the idea of owning a handgun seems surreal.

anna

i wish i could like this post! so many good points and so well put in my opinion.

Megan

i agree i wish there were a like option. i like that this conversation is happening! good job everyone.

Michelle

I really appreciate this post. I agree that those who are mentally stable really struggle to understand why they would need to give up their assault weapons. In my opinion wouldn’t we want to have the “good guys” in possession of the guns most effective at killing? That way we have a match against those who are mentally unstable and in possession of an assault rifle. That’s why I wonder if we should arm teachers, or at least have more armed guards on public school campuses. Of course, thorough assessment of mental stability would need to be done, but it would put the power back with those who are responsible enough to handle it.

Aileen

So you not only think every teacher should be armed, but that every teacher should be armed with an assault rifle? So that we could blast away at a mentally ill student? That seems more reasonable than barring the mentally unstable from purchasing or keeping weapons?
I teach college students, and I have had so many students over the years write research papers on what kind of gun control could work in the US. And it’s actually not a hard question to answer. There is a lot of research out there that doesn’t get anywhere close to Australian levels of removing guns from private ownership that would easily reduce the number of gun deaths in this country. The problem is the fearmongering by those who insist that any action is the start of the “slippery slope” and insist that no action, not even very minor action, can be taken.

Karen

Catherine, everything you said is so measured, respectful, and thoughtful! I feel the exact same way – except about it being too late. I don’t think that we can afford to think that way. I read your other response, that if even one of these tragedies is prevented, then further gun control is worth it – and that is truly the crux of the issue. I think, as someone who is pro RESPONSIBLE gun ownership, or even if I was against it entirely (which I’m not, but could be, if I thought it would stop these tragedies), that there is a feeling of hopelessness about how to further this cause in an effective way. We can’t take back what’s already happened – what would even work to slow down the scary people who don’t care what rules or regulations are put in place? I believe that SOMETHING must be done. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see what did work, that ONE tragedy that was prevented because of stricter regulations. All we have are examples of what’s working in other places. And unfortunately, none of those places are the USA – with the size and diversity, and complexity, that makes us… Read more »

Spanish

Hi Karen, I am glad you think so high of your country, but every country is unique actually. I have no doubt that USA is amazing still mass shooting only happen there… Maybe you are doing something wrong, and you guessed right, it’s that you have guns.

Nicole V

Mass shootings don’t “only happen here” neither do mass killings that don’t involve guns for that matter.

AJ

I just can’t believe that (intelliegent) people like your father-in-law wouldn’t be willing to give up some of their ownership rights in order to save the lives of children. That just feels like a level of selfishness I will never understand.

Catherine

AJ, I understand where you’re coming from, but unfortunately it’s not that simple. If it was, I think we could solve the problem today and not have any more of these tragedies! From what I’ve seen, pro-gun people usually see the issue from this perspective: – They believe that gun control is a slippery slope and will eventually snowball into a governmental buyback program like you see in Australia. The slippery slope argument might sound irrational, but my father honestly believes this is a possibility. If it happened in Australia (and Hillary Clinton and other politicians have praised the Australian system), why couldn’t it happen here? Some people have asked “ok, what is so wrong with the Australian system?” Pro-gun people find this system disastrous. All of a sudden, many types of commonly owned guns were illegal – long guns, mostly semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, pump-action shotguns, and military type semi-automatic rifles. My husband and I would have to sell all of the guns we own, minus a revolver, to the government or we would be breaking the law. – Pro-gun people don’t think that giving up some gun ownership rights will make a difference. They think that the bad… Read more »

Anonymous

I own guns because I unfortunately live in one of the most violent cities in the US. We are constantly having to watch our backs. I have 2 tiny babies & feel I need to protect myself & the babes at all times. Do I like living like this? Absolutely not. But at this time, I have no plans to move to a safer city because my entire support system is here.

Jennifer

Thank you for your post. I am so sorry you have to live in fear. Support systems are so important. Totally understand wanting to protect your family.

Abby.

I have an honest question about how keeping a gun in a house, especially a home with children, makes you feel safer. Safe gun storage would mean keeping the unloaded gun locked away separately from the ammunition in a place that is inaccessible to children. So if the worst case scenario happened and your home was broken into, it would mean retrieving and unlocking 2 storage containers, then loading the gun. All while keeping a cool enough head to do so efficiently and maintain control of the firearm so that it’s not used against you. To me, this doesn’t seem like an effective means of maintaining one’s home security. On the other hand, if these safe storage steps are not taken, then kids are able to access guns. When unfamiliar with them (or even when familiar) they do not understand the ramifications of handling one. So then you see headlines about accidental shootings. And I mean this in an honest way. My brother and father keep guns in their homes and have never been able to articulate why it makes them safer. Also, it’s so sad that people feel unsafe in their homes. So I’m sorry you are struggling with… Read more »

Vanessa’s

I wonder about this too! When I hear people keep a gun in their home to protect their family I review the senario into head as to how they would get and open the two separate safes in time, after being surprised by an intruder to actually make a difference.

Gun-hater who fell in love with a man with guns

Vanessa, Some people keep the rifles locked away but wear their handgun in a holster under their clothes for immediate access (concealed carry). It’s actually very common in some areas.

Judy

I’ve noticed a few other comments saying that a safely stored gun wouldn’t allow you time to protect yourself. Our gun safe will open only with my or my husband’s fingerprint. Clip in but chamber empty. In a matter of seconds we would be able to defend ourselves and our gun is stored safely. Coincidentally, there is a story in today’s local news of a senior couple being beaten in their home by an intruder. The wife was able to get their handgun and they did use it to defend themselves. The intruder survived his gunshot wounds and was later arrested. Just for the record though, we also strongly agree that there need to be stricter gun laws and an outright ban on retailers selling these automatic rifles, etc. it’s appalling that we have yet to take action.

Heather

As far as keeping your family safe, cases like this do happen: http://abcnews.go.com/US/okla-woman-shoots-kills-intruder911-operators-shoot/story?id=15285605 Yes, these situations are incredibly rare, but much of our country lives in small town, rural areas where neighbors and police can’t respond quickly. And while many people feel that legislation is worth the chance of protecting school children, they feel gun ownership is worth the chance of protecting themselves. I don’t own guns, have never fired a gun, but I was raised in Montana. I know lots of people (including family) who own guns for recreation and personal protection (including on ranches where wild animals are a real danger). None of these people, including myself, is opposed to eliminating high capacity guns that can kill hundreds in a matter of seconds from the market. However, there seems to be a huge disconnect between this and proposed laws. To my knowledge, the proposed legislation thus far has included gaping loop holes that would make them essentially worthless in actually taking these guns (and only these guns) off the market– as someone mentioned in another comment about how they defined assault rifles. And there is a real fear of sloppy legislation being broadly applied in unintended ways (making… Read more »

A

I’m sorry, perhaps I’ve misunderstood your comment, but why should homicides that are gang related be removed from the statistics? Surely with more restricted access to guns across the board, those would go down as well? And isn’t that a good thing? That people, regardless of their background or level of affluence, would benefit from fewer gun deaths?

Katie Fritsch

Emily, I love this idea! The idea of seeing how everyone feels about an issue… Here are some of my thoughts/experiences with guns. Growing up, my father was in law enforcement. He worked his way up from a state trooper to eventually becoming a Texas Ranger. Because he was a peace officer, we always had guns in our home. From a very early age, I knew the rules. We were NEVER allowed to touch a gun without my dads permission. We knew where they were kept, we knew why we had them, we knew my dad always had a gun in his boot or on his hip. And we always felt protected by him. My sisters and I respect firearms. We hold them with a sort of reverence I think. We know the power that a gun possesses and we know their purposes. When I was little, there was a serial killer that devasted our community by taking a little girls life. You can look up the story – Tommy Lynn Sells was the evil man. It was terrifying, but we knew that in the middle of the night, if someone decided to come into OUR home, we would be… Read more »

Katie Fritsch

I guess I didn’t answer the question about the AR’s in my post. I have mixed emotions. My husband has one. He hardly ever uses it. He’s taken it to the ranch with friends and they’ve shot it for fun, but this weapon kind of scares me. I will talk to him about it and share his thoughts with you! Because, honestly, I don’t know what to think about it.

Katie Fritsch

Okay – here is a response from my husband who owns an AR-15 from a previous discussion that he sent me. “I agree that when the constitution was written the single shot musket is what they had in mind, but as you mentioned earlier times have changed. With assault rifles having been so readily available for so long now it doesn’t seem logical that a law to ban them will make them disappear. With that being said, they are already in the hands of people who do not pay much attention to the law and so restricting law abiding citizens from getting them only puts us at a disadvantage. I would hate to have to defend my wife and daughter in my home with a single shot musket or even a shotgun with 4 rounds if the intruder had an assault rifle with 30 rounds in his hands. Furthermore, some of the guns that everyone is mentioning that they grew up with and don’t mind people having is a .22. We all hunted rabbits with them and had a great time doing it. A lot of .22’s also can carry up to 20 rounds with extended clips that can carry… Read more »

Natalee

Emily, you say to Katie “Ask your husband if he would be willing to give up his AR15 in the name of a movement towards less mass shootings?” …but do you really think that would help? (real question, not a snarky question). There are so many ways, legal and illegal to turn regular guns into semi automatic weapons. (and for the record it scares me). I am open minded to any gun control measure that would ACTUALLY help ensure that criminals and sick people don’t have such easy access to weapons of mass destruction, but I think gun control proponents also have to consider that “banning AR15s” might not actually contribute to fewer mass shootings. It may just be a band aid on a gushing wound. Would banning certain weapons from law abiding citizens decrease shootings from people who intend to break the law? After all, we do have strictly enforced murder laws. How’s that working out? I also have been very curious where a leftist, gun control proponent’s mind goes when they hear about a terrorist taking out civilians with an automobile. Though I am desperate to reduce these school shooting in every way imaginable, I do also acknowledge,… Read more »

Kim

Thanks Natalee for your contributions to this dialogue. I used to live in Australia, where guns are legal for those that go through the proper checks, but the checks make it much more of a hassle to obtain, and for the most part only hunters now own them. This was not the case 50 years ago. Australia was very much like America and seemingly everyone owned a gun. Then in 1996 a mass shooting occurred in Tasmania. The people were outraged, the govt responded (led by a conservative prime minister), they made it illegal to buy, own, sell all automatic guns (and the systems to make reg guns shoot more/faster), created better background checks, waiting periods and mandatory training. And they’ve never had a mass shooting since. Yes, Australia is an island. Yes, it’s much easier to control what illegal items go in and come out of that country. Yes, it would be much easier to get illegal guns in through Mexico. But most guns don’t come from Mexico… they go TO Mexico! (Side note: Mexico had its bloodiest six months in recent time from June-Dec 2017 with 27k deaths related to drug trade. The vast majority of guns came… Read more »

AJ

Canada isn’t an island. Gun control laws save lives, period.

Amber

To your first point abt finding a solution that works but not knowing if banning AR-15s is the right fix: as a first step, we should repeal the Dickey Amendment, an NRA-backed amendment that blocks funding to CDC research abt gun safety. Allowing the CDC to do their jobs is how we’ll come up with a solution that isn’t just a bandaid. For example, CDC research abt car safet/accidents lead to seatbelts in cars being mandatory, and eventually lead to seatbelt laws…. the rate of car accident deaths went down (you can learn more on the cdc site). To your 2nd point about “leftists” (can we stop bucketing people into partisan groups… that might help us see each other as more similar than different) and terrorists running over people with cars: of course bad peoples will find a way, and sometimes it’s plowing a crowd with car, or using a knife, or a bomb, but more often than not, with much more frequency in the US, it’s guns. The mass murders at schools and movie theaters and concerts are carried out with such efficiency bc of guns. If we start seeing an influx of intentional mass-car-murders NEARLY DAILY (bc that’s… Read more »

Elizabeth

Hi Katie! Thanks for your thoughts – so well written and they are helping me to understand as well. I grew up in CA but now live in Michigan – we’re now on the border of both a v liberal and v conservative area so the issue is coming up more. I was curious about your husbands comment re: Chicago and wanted to pass that on – I know it’s been an oft-quoted point but really doesn’t hold water because (1) the laws in Chicago were relaxed in 2013 and it was only in 2015 when the biggest recent % increase happened – and (2) Chicago is really close to Wisconsin and Indiana which both have very weak gun laws. Here’s the article: https://www.npr.org/2017/10/05/555580598/fact-check-is-chicago-proof-that-gun-laws-don-t-work. Also – thank you to everyone for motivating me to talk to my Congressman – he’s super conservative and I feel like it’s a waste of time bringing this issue up to him but I am reenergized to reach out. Anything we can do to decrease the frequency and severity of gun violence is a good thing. And THANK YOU to Emily for starting this dialogue.

EJK

Thank you for this re Chicago. As a Chicagoan, these constantly cited reference points that are totally wrong are so frustrating. For the record, I’m a fairly left-leaner on most issues, but my husband (a former cop) owns several guns (including formerly an AR-15 before we moved to Chicago) and has his concealed carry permit. He often drives through some unsafe neighborhoods and is a real estate agent who has to meet people he may not know at strangers houses in all kinds of neighborhoods. I’m glad he has a gun on him at those times. However, he is an expert marksman who is properly trained and I have full confidence that he could actually defend himself with that weapon without injuring himself or innocent bystanders or empowering the attacker (as so often happens with guns when people don’t really know how to use them). I believe this level of skill and training and extensive background checks should be required in order to obtain a concealed carry permit or to obtain a semi-automatic rifle of any kind (AR-15s just look scary – their firing action and lethality is the same as so many other semi-automatic rifles that would not commonly… Read more »

kim

I truly believe the VAST majority of Americans believe in common sense gun control. Whenever i read outlandish comments on social media I have to wonder if these are written by bots intended to make us feel more divided than we actually are.

Thank you for not hiding from this topic. It’s so scary. I just registered my sweet baby boy for MIDDLE SCHOOL. As I walked through the large and intimidating ‘new-to-us” campus, I cannot tell you the thoughts that ran through my mind. 🙁

Kelly

I am very liberal and have the same questions. Brene Brown has a great piece on her stance as someone who grew up around guns and believes in the right to gun ownership, yet supports gun control. She makes the point that we have this overly simplified idea that anyone who supports gun rights must support the NRA and be against gun control, which is a false narrative we create (and one I know I have bought into). You can read it here:

https://brenebrown.com/blog/2017/11/08/gun-reform-speaking-truth-bullshit-practicing-civility-affecting-change/

Deb - NC

Excellent piece, Kelly – thanks for linking.

Caroline

Thanks for linking to this–I was going to try to find it to post here, as I also found it to be a helpful article for reframing how we think about this topic. I personally have no guns and advocate for much stricter gun control, but I also know that we have to learn to listen to each other, from our opposite sides, and this article helps with that.

Amber

In a similar vain to the oversimplified idea that “pro-gun means anti gun control,” there’s an assumption that anyone who is for gun control wants to take away/melt all the guns, which is just as harmful and untrue of an assumption. I tried to open a dialogue with a pro-gun, pro-nra family member about how all my “anti-gun” liberal friends in my liberal Seattle bubble don’t actually want to take away all the guns, and my very respectful comments basically started a family war.

K

Will be checking back for comments. Thanks for taking the time to think about this subject and approach it in a calm, intelligent way. You’re brave!

Jess

I am a gun owner (and gun hater) and a HUGE supporter of gun control. I grew up in Alabama in a house where there where guns. My mother was a law enforcement officer. Everyone I knew (but my family) hunted. I now live in RI and we do have a gun in the house, only because we live in a rural area with farm animals. However, that gun is in a locked case, in a locked room, separated from ammo. We have no children to worry about, but ANYTIME friends with a child will be coming over, I always reach out to them before hand and let them know that we own a gun and how it is kept. It should be their right to not have their child in a house with a gun if they do choose. No one needs to own a high powered gun and no one should own a gun that has the capacity to kill hundreds of people in mere moments (which is what automatic weapons with large capacity clips enable). In fact, it is the only thing those guns are meant to do. And yes, there are definitely issues involving mental health… Read more »

Whitney

As a mother of two I commend you for your openness. My oldest is about to be 4 and I am dreading having to talk to all of his friends parents regarding if they have guns and where they are kept as well as the bullets.

Cara

We don’t own guns, I have family members who do, I don’t know why but it had never even occurred to me that I should talk to my kids about what they should do if they come across a gun at someone else’s home. We will be doing that immediately. We love in Texas so the likelihood of their friends parents having guns is high.

Jess

In my opinion, no responsible gun owner should be offended by a parent who asks these questions. Guns aren’t toys – they were literally invented to kill. As a parent, your job is to keep your children safe; of COURSE you should know about guns. Just my humble opinion, but I’d be worried about the houses with guns where someone gets bent out of shape when asked. When you feel confident that your gun is truly secured in a way that keeps others from harm, it isn’t a question that bothers you. And kudos to all of you parents for treading through this new reality with so much bravery. You’ve 100% got the hardest job out there.

Erika

Whitney- I have a while before my baby is four, but the conversation about guns with her future friend’s parents is something that’s on my mind. Is this a normal part of “school-friend etiquette” now? Like, “Oh, Sarah invited you over…let me call her mom and see if they have any guns…”

Me: “Hi Sarah’s mom, I’m sure you’re super nice, do you own guns? Is the ammo out of reach?” This is super foreign territory for me.

Jess- THANK YOU for telling parents about this. I really appreciate it.

Vanessa’s

I have elementary school aged boys and when they have a play date at a new house asking if there is a firearm kept in the home is now part of my standard exchange. For example, yes, my son would love to come over. He still sits in a booster seat so let me know if you need a spare one for the drive home. He doesn’t have any allergies and do you keep a gun in your home?

Angela

My children are 9 & 11 and I’ve asked many times. I also ask about working smoke detectors before sleepovers.

Jess

I couldn’t live with myself if something happened because there was a gun in my house. And I’m not naive enough to believe it could never happen to me, so we take every step possible to create a safe environment.

May

Whitney, your comment really opened my eyes to all the ways that guns have an impact on life as a mama in the US – this particular one had never occurred to me but of course you’d have to have these type of conversations with other families so regularly. Must be so hard but good on you. I live in Australia, we have enough fears for our children here, and obviously I can’t properly understand what the climate is like in the US, the background and entitlement that people have towards owning guns. It just seems to me that you could argue all day that these guns are designed to protect, to make people feel safe, that most people who own them are rational but the reality is that these guns, repeatedly, are being used to kill in mass shootings, with children – children who deserve our protection – so often the victims. How can you argue for something that keeps you feeling safe when the cost is so many children’s lives, their actual safety? If so many parents, and so many kids, are feeling this fear every day – a totally warranted fear – over something that can be… Read more »

Amy

Jess, I don’t know why your comment made me cry, but thank you for being so responsible and considerate.

Olivia

My husband and I are almost 30 and we do have a gun and two young boys. We felt we just needed one to keep in our home for our safety. I’ve only shot it once, and once was enough for me, it’s a frightening feeling. In my opinion there should be stricter laws and I hope there will be someday. I didn’t even want to take my son to school on Thursday, I was afraid and honestly I am still.

Rachael

I just can’t understand why an AR 15 should ever be sold to a civilian. I grew up shooting guns at my grandfathers house in the mountains and my step dad was a hunter and kept his guns in a locked safe. But I have 3 small children and would never ever want a gun in my home. The accidents that happen with them are almost as haunting as the mass shootings. I’m also not opposed to people in their right mind being allowed to own a gun for protection but I don’t know where those lines should be drawn. I can’t help but wonder what happened to that boy in his life that made him do that. Hurt people, hurt people. We are failing as a nation in so many ways and I believe many of those ways start in our own homes. “If you want to save the world, go home and love your family.” Mother Teresa

Brie

Thank you for being the first person to acknowledge this young man’s brokenness. My heart is broken for him as well as for everyone who lost a child or loved one on Wednesday. We’ve given up on civility in so much of this country, and it looks like we are giving up on caring for those who are marginalized by mental health issues- unless it’s politically expedient or a horrific incident has occurred. The below article is not recent to the Valentine’s shooting, but its message resonated with me, because I don’t think we’ll ever get significant movement on gun control in this country. So what can I- just me- do about this? This article convicted me. And every one of us can do what the author suggests. https://mystudentapt.com/2015/10/06/theres-a-way-to-stop-mass-shootings-and-you-wont-like-it/ Finally, my son is now a fine adult man, but he suffered from severe depression in middle school. Eventually we learned he had been systematically bullied by a trio of boys at the expensive, private Christian school he attended. For 2 years! We worked with him for another year to help him develop “strategies” to combat the bullying (because, in retrospect, we were IDIOTS) before we finally moved him to another… Read more »

RCG

Great post, thank-you. Glad your son is doing well!

Taya

I do own a gun and when I say I, I mean my husband went and bought it. But I do not think AR-15’s should be available to the general public. We have a small hand gun we keep in our bedroom dresser ( we don’t have kids) we keep it for strictly safety reasons, my husband gave me a short lesson at a gun range and I’ve shot it one time ( scared me) but just so I would know how to use it if the worst case was to happen. We don’t tell people we have it nor is it something we see as a pride thing or something to brag about it is strictly there for if someone were to ever break in our home to cause us harm!

Rebecca P

I’m in a similar situation. My husband has a pistol that his father gave him (I guess that means that I own it too). I’ve never shot it, and I don’t know how to use it. We also have a rifle and a Civil War gun for reenactments. Those guns are about the same size as me (I’m 5 ft even), so I would never be able to use them because they’re so heavy. I have no interest in owning a gun or even shooting one, but my husband feels safer with a gun in the house.

Emily

Thank you for doing these kinds of posts. I think as a society, we’ve forgotten how to just talk to each other. A platform like this, without labels or politics—just a conversation is where we need to begin! My husband and I own a handgun which we keep in a safe that is hidden and only accessible by fingerprint. I never had guns growing up but my husband travels for work a lot and I was always nervous staying home alone. That’s why we have it, and I do think that everyone should have the option to protect their homes with a gun (if they choose to). As for automatic weapons, I don’t understand the need to own one. They aren’t necessary for home protection. I’ve heard a lot of people say that they won’t be told what they can or can’t own because of other people’s mental health issues. This is a bit troubling to me, and something I don’t quite understand. If it’s not necessary for protection, are you really not willing to give up a hobby in an attempt to create a safer environment? I 100% believe that is primarily a mental health issue but mental health… Read more »

Lexie

Love this post and the dialogue it will inspire – just wish you would have added one more question. If you ARE a gun owner/NRA member and believe in more restrictions, are you advocating for them by contacting congress? Why or why not?

Brooke

I personally don’t love guns but we do own some. My husband likes guns. He thinks they are cool and likes to use them to shoot targets and occasionally goes hunting. I was against us owning any and having them in my home until we had a scary incident in the middle of the night. We thought someone was trying to break in ( it ended up being some friends playing a not very funny prank) BUT the feeling of hopelessness to defend ourselves against someone who might be breaking in to harm us was so scary. The only thing we had to defend ourselves was basically a lamp. After that night I gave my husband the ok to buy a hand gun. I think it is important to keep guns legal to buy because if you make them illegal the bad guys will still have a way to get them. The same way they can still get drugs illegally but then the good guys will be left without guns and without anything to protect themselves. That being said I think there is no reason for the public to have access to any semi automatic guns or anything that these… Read more »

anna

do your friends know they scared you so bad you decided to buy a gun? hopefully your friends won’t be pulling that prank again now that you can protect yourselves. this reminds me of the story where a man killed his daughter’s boyfriend because he was sneaking around the house in the middle of the night… that’s so heartbreaking.

Kelly

Thank you for this thoughtful response. I’m curious; if you’d owned the gun when your friends had pulled the prank, it seems likely that you would have drawn the gun and pointed it at them. Does that scare you? That you could have accidentally shot someone who is an ally?

Sare

We talk a lot about the theory of using guns for home protection. Could some people share how they themselves have successfully used a gun for protection against an intruder? What happened? How was the gun stored safely (away from children) but easily accessable in an emergency? What kind of gun did you have, and did the power of the gun help you in the situation? I do ask only for personal stories as I imagine that these kind of heroism stories can be quickly stretched after going trough a few people. I also welcome ‘unsuccessful’ examples, but that’s not really the aim of the question. The need for daily personal physical protection is so foreign to me that some actual examples would open my eyes. Writing all this makes me realize how lucky I am… Also, I can identify with many of the comments in this post. For those who own guns who don’t feel comfortable to speak up, could you maybe just leave a quick note if we’ve simply widened our echo chamber to include some liberal gun owners? Or if these are broadly felt beliefs? Asking because many of the comments here seem to be in contradiction… Read more »

Hannah

Use of a gun in a home invasion for personal protection is exceedingly rare, and according to a wealth of data, gun ownership makes inhabitants less safe. From one study: “For every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.” Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9715182

Ali

Hi Brooke, I just wanted to let you know that your one comment really stood out to me. “I think it is important to keep guns legal to buy because if you make them illegal the bad guys will still have a way to get them. The same way they can still get drugs illegally but then the good guys will be left without guns and without anything to protect themselves. ” I live in Australia and when they made all guns illegal back in the 90’s, this was my exact fear. Even though guns didn’t permeate our culture like they have in the US, I still didn’t like the idea that nasty people would have guns and good people wouldn’t. Now that our government took the bold step so long ago, I can attest that there wasn’t anything to worry about. We still have bikies and other ‘baddies’ that I know have guns, but on the whole they usually turn them upon each other rather than other people. This can be backed up by statistics that show we haven’t had a mass shooting since the guns were banned. I know people are really fearful of what could happen if… Read more »

AJ

And if you had owned a gun at that point, you may have accidentally shot one of your friends out of fear.

Mandy

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=597265837285077&id=2060411990907103
Not sure if this link will work, but hopefully. My husband said its a good speech. He also feels like gun control will only make that the good guys can’t get guns, the bad guys will find a way to get them not matter what laws are made.

K

It seems to me that if someone wants to harm others, he/she will find a way. If one gun becomes unavailable, they’ll just use something else. We have a deeper issue here than gun control, a heart issue. We have turned away from a God who is love, acceptance, moral, good, and respecting of human life. Without Him comes depression, sadness, lack of respect for human life, anger, etc. As a society, we need to raise a generation that returns to parenting with these values. So many of the shooters have dealt with horrible childhoods. I can’t stress enough the value of good parenting combined with the love of God.

Jess

This is true. We recently lived in London and there people are getting stabbed as they don’t have as easy access to guns. The most recently terror attacks involved machetes b/c that is what they could get. If you want to cause harm, you will use what you can find.

Anna

Yes, if someone wants to harm someone they will find a way, but I would rather come up against a knife than a gun. Imagine if those terrorists with machetes had had easy access to assault rifles – the death toll could have been considerably higher. And organised groups of terrorists are, in my opinion, a completely different thing to the unhinged individual who can buy a gun and shoot his school ‘friends’ (term used loosely) for whatever reason he/she thinks justified. I am 100% against guns. And yes, I’m British.

Kasia

Sure, people that want to cause harm will cause harm. But that harm will be significantly less than that inflicted with a weapon like the AR-15. Making laws to make it more difficult to purchase guns like these would make it at least a LITTLE bit harder for those that do want to cause harm. If we could make it even a tiny bit harder for them why wouldn’t we? Another idea that I’ve heard over the years is making it similar to something like DRIVING, for which you need a license, take a test, renew that license, etc. Are gun owners opposed to this?? I recently read (an older) piece about the history of the NRA and how it started: “The NRA, which started as a group to help people improve their marksmanship in 1871, became more heavily politicized in the late 1970s, when newer NRA members decided to focus more on halting gun control legislation instead of recreational hunting and safety training.” https://www.npr.org/2011/01/27/133247508/the-history-and-growing-influence-of-the-nra Obviously, the organization has changed greatly over the years and I know when these debates come up we always lump all NRA members into one category but that’s obviously not the case. What do more… Read more »

Katie

But these celebrities/rich people you speak of, these politicians who want to ban guns from the average person, guess what’s protecting them? Guns! Sure, they’re not carrying them personally, but they have bodyguards, secret service agents who do. They’re protected and their kids are protected, but WE don’t need that for us or our kids.

Kate

Yes I think this all the time about your spending question! When our politicians can be bought we are really in a heap of trouble. I think overturning Citizens United was disastrous. Here’s a link to the top congresspeople and their NRA money:
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/10/04/opinion/thoughts-prayers-nra-funding-senators.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur

AJ

Yeah, but you can’t stab 20 people in 2 minutes.

Anne

But the difference is SO obvious – with a knife or machete you will most probably be able to harm only one person at a time, or a few people in an attack (and it might be possible, even for unarmed bystanders, to intervene)!!

Anna

Our family is religious and I am personally totally on board with society making moves more toward traditional religious values, but I really don’t think that is 1( realistic at this point or 2) at the heart of the problem. Loads of “godless” countries don’t have the kinds of problems with mass shootings that America does. It feels too fatalistic to just say bad people will find a way. I do think that’s true to a point, but if there are things we could be doing to decrease the likelihood of these things happening even a little bit, shouldn’t we be doing every single one of them, like, immediately!?

Anna

Hi K, I do believe in a society that values love, acceptance, moral, good, and respecting of human life, and think many societal ills stem from humans who aren’t being showered in these things. However, lack of God does not cause depression, sadness, lack of respect for human life, anger, etc. Some of the most wonderful humans I know are do not believe in God. Some of the most wonderful people I know believe in an entirely different God than the one you pray to. It is fully possible to raise a generation with fantastic values, without God. Equating non-religious people with immoral acts is very closed minded and ignorant.

Lia

Thank you, Anna, so well said.

Tracy

You can dig a foundation for a house with a spoon, but it’s a lot quicker and easier to use an excavator.

You could kill 100 people with a knife, but it’s a lot quicker and easier to use a gun.

A tool is a tool and of course it takes a person to use it – but some tools are just better than others, and guns are the best killers out there – efficient, easy and accessible.

Jenny

I’m anti gun, but I can understand people’s rights to owning one. I would just think that in this decade we could make it harder to but them then it is to buy Sudafed! This was a wonderful way to open up dialogue bc all I keep asking is “who are the people that think automatic weapons should be on the market” I truly don’t think there can be anyone who could think they should be, which brings me to my next thought. Why the heck can’t we reform that – start there it seems so simple.

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Jess

I’ll be brave and answer as a household with guns including an AR15. We own these for protection, but hope and pray they never have to be used. They are weapons that need to be treated with respect. I grew up in a household with guns for this purpose and was taught to use them properly at a range. I can clearly remember this time a police helicopter was circling our house looking in the woods surrounding it for a suspect and my father getting out his gun and sitting on the back porch. He is the most mellow man I know, but felt genuine fear for his family. Did he want to use it? No, of course not. Did he hope the sight of him and his gun would ensure this criminal didn’t try to break into our house and create a hostage situation? Absolutely. I believe the sight of gun can be a big enough deterrent and you don’t actually need to use it. However, if you do get out a gun in a situation where you feel an extreme threat for your life, you do have to be prepared to use it. It’s not a toy. If… Read more »

anna

very well said. another “like” for me! defending yourself with a gun doesn’t mean you have to kill the person attacking you.

Catherine

The only difference between you and me is that your husband isn’t a hunter. Everything you said resonates with me. My husband also built an AR-15 from parts for fun, we shoot sporting clays for fun, I don’t feel “powerful” holding a gun but its rather the challenge of aiming at and hitting a moving target that I find enjoyable. I look at it the same way as, say, going to the driving range to hit golf balls.

I couldn’t agree more with your second paragraph. AR-15s are just a “black rifle.” They’re scary looking. People use them for hunting, too (hogs, for instance). My shotgun is also “semi-automatic.” Even if it was a pump, I could still kill someone with it. I am all for increased regulations, increasing the difficulty of buying a gun, etc. I just think people can’t expect for these types of tragedies to stop if we do those things. There will always be a black market and the crazy person will always be able to get their hands on one. But I do believe it is worthwhile to do everything we can to make it more difficult for crazy, dangerous people to obtain these weapons.

Sloane

I agree with this post too. Tons of our friends do not own guns and I am genuinely curious what they (or those of you without guns) would do in a life threatening situation in your home? Hopefully we all will never have that problem but I want to be able to defend myself and my kids and my husband wants to be able to defend all of us should we ever be in a life threatening situation at home. Calling the police isn’t enough.

cheswick

I keep reading how afraid people are of intruders coming to their home. I live in East L.A. where there are gangs and frequent violent crimes (usually gang on gang). I don’t own a gun. I don’t know anyone who has had intruders come to their home with guns. How often do people find criminals coming to their house loaded with AR-15s? This isn’t the wild west. Everyone pro-gun seems to have this idea that their lives are going to turn in to a Wild West style shootout with the ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ in an arms race on their front lawn. The only time I hear about people attacking people with AR-15s is when a teenage boy decides to shoot up his high school. I’m sorry, but this rationale is just completely distorted by right wing radio and fear mongering. This level of paranoia is really disturbing.

Nicole

I completely agree with this post. Thank you for sharing. It has always been my opinion that I would rather risk my own well-being that live with the consequences that could potentially arise from owning a firearm. The number of unintentional gun related deaths is staggering. On average, states with the highest gun levels had nine times the rate of unintentional firearms deaths compared to states with the lowest gun levels. I couldn’t live with myself If an accident occurred because of my own negligence. Just a personal opinion.

Amy

Yes, Cheswick!! I also live in LA, different area, and we hear helicopters circling all the time looking for criminals, we have people break into cars on our street frequently, home invasion burglaries happen in the neighborhood sometimes. But I’ve never heard of anyone bursting through someone’s door with a gun. I’ve never heard of a home owner successfully defending him or herself with a gun. This is not reality. If it happens, it’s far less frequent than mass shooting where many people die in such a short amount of time.

Traci

Couldn’t have said it better myself.
It *seems* that most urbanites, where crime itself is higher, DON’T own the guns, but the folks in the rural areas are super concerned with violent home invasions, and I just don’t personally get it.

Liz

Thank for this comment, I completely agree.

Stacey

Because you haven’t heard of it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. It doesn’t have to be an AR15 to kill you (that the intruder has). In a super safe suburb a man broke in my bedroom in the middle of the night. So now you’ve heard of it – it happens.

Kelley

Came here to say exactly THIS, so thank you.
I don’t it either. Black market “criminals” aren’t committing these mass shootings. It’s nearly always white men with no criminal record who obtained them legally.

Katie

I wouldn’t consider it paranoia. I don’t know many people whose houses have burned down at night; yet everybody has fire alarms. It’s a precaution, it’s a safety measure. It’s like carrying pepper spray when you’re a woman running alone on a semi-deserted road. Something could happen, and you need to be aware of that. Saying “it will never happen to me” just isn’t smart. Do you think the people who it DID happen to expected it?
You don’t want or even expect it to happen; however, you’re prepared if it does. You don’t want to wait until it happens and then wish you could somehow protect yourself. Also, there are more than enough stories on the news of home invasions to make them a natural thing to fear.

cheswick

Katie – yes, of course people need to be able to defend themselves to some extent and of course things happen. But what is the tradeoff in having our children gunned down in cold blood in their schools?

Your analogy of a fire detector is really lame. “I wouldn’t consider it paranoia. I don’t know many people whose houses have burned down at night; yet everybody has fire alarms. It’s a precaution, it’s a safety measure. ”

A fire alarm has no downside – it doesn’t cause fires! Is letting everyone buy automatic weapons really a safety measure? Is it really making us safer? Yes, there are home invasions. You don’t need a semi-automatic weapon and unlimited ammo to fight off a home invader. How many home invasions are stopped by the owner winning a gunfight? There must be statistics and I’d love to know.

When children have the ‘natural fear’ of going to school – something is very very wrong.

Madison

Well said

Katie

I wanted to reply to Traci re: urbanites vs rural. Part of the difference is self-reliance or time to help. When you live 15 minutes or more from your nearest neighbor, if something happens you need to be able to care for yourself. Or protect yourself. I’m not a gun fan. But we do have a rural cabin and at nights when I’m here alone I *do* think about how long it would take the police to get to me or how long it would take me to find someone who could help. I see the appeal.

Courtney N

For all of the commenters who say that they keep a gun or guns in their home for protection or the feeling of protection, where do you keep your gun(s). For example, if the gun(s) are kept in a locked safe how would you be able to access them quickly enough to protect yourself from an intruder? And if you keep your guns accessible does that mean that you do not have children in the home or that you believe even young children can be trusted to learn gun safety? I am genuinely trying to understand how guns actually provide a homeowner with protection in the event of a nightmare scenario, ie a burglar, criminal, rapist or murder slipping into your home in the middle of the night while your family is sleeping. Is it just the feeling of protection that you get from having a gun or do you actually imagine that you (or one of your family members) would be able to disable an intruder with a gun?

Katie

Our household is all adults/young adults who have grown up shooting, handling, and respecting guns from a young age. All guns are kept unloaded, out of reach of small children, but within easy reach of us, with ammo nearby. We all know which gun to grab, and where the ammo is. I have no doubt that if someone were to break into our house with the intent to do harm, that he would be met with at least one armed person. And yes, if it came down to shooting the bad guy to protect our loved ones, I have no doubt that we would do what had to be done. Of course, once the guy heard our German Shepherd, he’d be an idiot to come any farther. So yes, you pray it never happens that you have to take a life to save your loved ones, but home invasions happen A LOT. You have the comfort of knowing that you won’t be at the mercy of any monster who breaks in to do harm. You will be able to protect yourself. Also, it would take the cops at least 20 minutes to get to our house. I think people who… Read more »

Liz

My best friend had a man come into her house through her unlocked door two minutes after she had left and held up her husband and infant son at gun point. It was still light outside and it was in a good neighborhood and a good part of town, Indiana for reference. The need to defend yourself is real, regardless of where you live. She now has a conceal carry and carries a gun with her.

Janel

I’m a gun owner by marriage, meaning my husband owns guns and therefore so do I. I have shot a few of his (including an AR-15) but have never bought one and have no desire to use one. He grew up hunting and that’s the main reason we own them. We do not fear for our lives as a result of a break in and really do not foresee any reason to ever use a gun on another person. If my husband did find himself needing to use one in self defense he would aim to harm – not kill. Also, from the time they are born, we push gun safety to our children. They will learn to respect guns and the power they possess. To a certain extent on regulations, yes. What scares me the most is private gun sales. We are not required to do any sort of background checking in our state, or even ask the age of the person buying from us should we decide to sell. I’m not sure what the answer is to this, personally I don’t see any reason why anyone who wants a gun should not have to obtain a permit, which… Read more »

Maegan

My husband owns one gun, it has never left it’s case in the two years we have been married. It stays hidden and quite frankly nobody would know that we own it unless we chose to divulge that information. Once we have children it will be locked in a gun safe at all times, and when our children are old enough they will take a gun safety course and understand the dangers of guns, and furthermore how they can be handled safely. As a gun owner, YES I stand for tighter gun laws. Any individual who wishes to purchase a gun should be recorded, have a background check, and absolutely must take a gun safety course and proof of a safe place to store the gun. I also do not think we should have access to semi automatic or automatic weapons, and I think there should be restrictions on how many guns can be kept in a household. In any case of a total ban, it isn’t hard to see the ineffectiveness. I truly believe careful regulation is the answer. My house was burglarized on two separate occasions growing up. Mind you, I lived in a safe and relatively middle… Read more »

Rylee
Christa

I think guns are dangerous and need to be heavily regulated like a car. We should require a license and training to get one. If a person has a mental health disability, he would not be able to own one. Licenses must be renewed annually.

The idea that citizens should have guns to protect themselves from our government is not realistic. This isn’t 1875. If our government turns against our citizens, a gun is not going to save anyone.

Adrienne

We live in Michigan, which is a big hunting state. Growing up we personally used it for hunting animals (mainly deer) to eat but my Dad was very conscious of safety and of course made me take ‘hunters safety’ courses. I am still hyper aware of the safety factor and triple check to make sure the gun is not loaded and the safety is on. Today my husband and I still have a few guns, I think he has a 22 and a shot gun. The 22 is for killing small animals that are a nuisance-either getting into our house or barn (we live in the country). And is bigger gun is for hunting, which he hasn’t done in a long time but it is put away safely from our children. I do think there should be tighter gun laws, and agree with Terra, I see no reason that anybody should be able to get automatic weapons or assault rifle type guns unless they serve in a public service that requires it but I don’t have a solution to how to do it. But many conservatives argue (or so i am told) that we need to be able to protect… Read more »

Melissa

I live in London where NO ONE HAS A GUN, so no one has the need to protect themselves from guns! Not even police have guns :/ just tasers. So we don’t even need protection from Police.
We haven’t had a mass shooting in my entire life time (I’m 25) and the word gun doesn’t even cross my mind EVER. Unfortunately there is a lot of propaganda in the media which supports guns, the NRA has definetely bought a lot of the media and is feeding you this story so civilians are also supportive. I think Americans should try and change their perspective on what a country without guns could be. As this will keep happening when you allow anyone, law of civilian to own guns.

tracy

I understand your train of thought, but the UK has had it’s own mass murders involving guns in the last 25 years…Cumbria and Dunblane come to mind. Removing guns from a society does not prevent the mentally ill and/or angry people from obtaining firearms to do their deeds. The UK is a perfect example…unfortunately.

AR-15’s are not high-powered, automatic weapons. If you ban them, sick people can commit the same damage with a .40 cal semi-automatic hand gun and a bag of loaded magazines. Will the government need to ban handguns, too? Then other hunting rifles? Where will it stop?
How do you remove all of the weapons currently in existence?
Law abiding citizens may turn in their weapons, but will criminals turn in theirs?
How will you protect yourself if an armed burglar breaks into your house…if you think law enforcement can respond to your alarm system in time to save you, you might be disappointed.

Cece

Hi Tracy.

You are completely correct in saying that there have been mass murders involving guns in the UK in my/our lifetime.

2,710 children have been killed by shootings in the US since 2014. Nearly 58000 people in total. In contrast, last year in the UK 26 people were killed by guns. That’s the highest since 1990, but for the sake of argument let’s assume the same number of people were killed in every year since 2014 – that’s around 105 deaths, as opposed to 58000.

So I strongly disagree with you. The UK is a perfect example that it is far, far more difficult for mentally ill people to commit mass murder if they don’t have easy access to high powered weapons. It’s not impossible, and it never will be, but I think the statistics tell their own story.

Claire

Tracy, you mentioned Dunblane, which is to date the only school shooting in UK history. After Dunblane, the parents of the victims launched a campaign to ban the ownership of handguns, which was eventually successful. Handguns were banned. There has never been a school shooting since.

Rebecca

Melissa,
People in London do have guns- just illegally and just really bad people you dont want having guns.
London has CRAZY amounts of terrorist attacks. I’d much rather die from a gunshot wound than a machete to the neck! I’d also like to protect myself against terrorist if the US ever became like the year you all had in 2017.

A Hamill

I’m an American living in London at the moment. I’ve lived here for over 10 years, and very much enjoy the peace of mind that comes with the fact there are such tight gun restrictions in this country. I very much disagree that we have a CRAZY amount of terrorist attacks. Fewer people died this year in a terrorist attack than in 9/11. If you want the hard numbers, between 2000 and 2017 126 people were killed in a terrorist attack. ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY SIX OVER A SEVENTEEN YEAR PERIOD. I’m sick of the US media and people who know little of the actual facts using rhetoric to support their agendas. If you want to know more, here’s a useful link. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/0/many-people-killed-terrorist-attacks-uk/ My family keeps asking if we’re ever moving home, and my honest answer is never. Not as long as gun laws stay the way they are. I would rather my girls go to school without having to think about gun drills or worry about being shot down by a fellow student. As for knife crime, yes it happens here. But it’s far harder to commit a mass killing when you have to walk up to each and… Read more »

Kelly Berry

Uh, the United States is five times larger than the entire United Kingdom. How do compare your numbers?
Most of the violence is in gun free areas.
Don’t forget, our 2nd Amendment came about because of the Revolution and the abusive King!

Louise

58000 / 105 = 552
Kelly, you say America’s population is 5 times the size of Britain’s but it has 552 times the number of deaths by mass shootings according to the numbers given above. That’s over 110 US deaths for every ONE in the UK when you account for the population difference. I’m not from either country so have no bias in favour of either

Natalie

I live in the Deep South. My family are not gun owners, we don’t hunt, etc. but we are waaaaay in the minority in terms of our lack of gun worshipping. But, here’s what people are saying here in defense of their military style assault rifles. Maybe it will at least help you understand why, even if you don’t agree: the second amendment was written so that if, god forbid, the citizens of the United States ever had to fight back against our own government, we would be able to. If you think people want AR15s to protect against a “bad guy” you’ll never understand. ITs bigger than that. It’s, what if trump goes nuts and we have to fight against his military- your engagement going to hope and pray someone has some kind of weapon to fight back. It sounds far fetched and crazy, I know, but that is the reason the amendment was written, and that’s why even the most common sense gun laws are being fought against. Even if you don’t agree, maybe that’s a perspective you hadn’t previously consider, and maybe it will help you to understand a different view point.

Brittany

This is interesting and I have considered this to be the basis for the amendment in the first place. Sounds far fetched but revolution happens.

Aileen

It sounds far-fetched and crazy because there is no way to fight back against our military with any level of weaponry one can buy. Our military is overwhelmingly more fearsome than any other nation’s military in the world! The idea that we can fight back against our own government with guns is completely absurd. We would have to rely, as every other nation’s citizens do, on the outrage of the free world to stop such actions. I’d also just add, the idea that our soldiers would, en masse, turn on our citizens also strains credulity.

Estelle

As a citizen from a country far far away (New Zealand) I am fascinated to read these responses. It is inconceivable to me that it is possible to buy even a handgun on the internet. I really can’t understand why anyone would want to live in a society where you have guns in your house so reading these comments is truly fascinating. Often Australia is brought up as an example of the positive effects of gun control to which the US could follow. But honestly to me it seems like the collective psyche of the US is so different to the rest of the developed world that maybe some form of gun control is too little too late anyway.

Estelle

One quick question maybe someone can answer. Is it common for people to shoot intruders? Do guns in the house routinely prove useful? ( I guess we are taught here to never interrupt an intruder but we also don’t live in a fear based culture).

Natasha

That was exactly my question!

Ellen

I’m not sure if it’s common, but it’s not unexpected. In the U.S. it’s called the castle doctrine, which says that you have a right to defend your “castle” in the event of an intruder. If you feel that your life is legitimately threatened, you have the right to defend yourself by any means necessary.

Jess

This is a good question. We are a hunting family. Myself, my husband and two of our five kids have hunting licences and hunt every year. Our main meat is venison, we eat hardly any other meat. (Our other kids are too young). We have a larger rifle for deer, and a shotgun for birds. We also have handguns, and a smaller 12 gauge shotgun which is easier for smaller sized people and women to shoot. I don’t know how often guns are used to stop intruders, mostly because it doesn’t seem like the chance of an intruder is very high. However, as someone who has used and been around guns my entire life, I will honestly answer that if someone broke into my house with clear intent to harm, I would not hesitate to shoot them if my family was at risk. They do make me feel safer. That being said, we are very responsible with our guns, locked up and separate from the ammunition and constantly talk to our kids about guns and how to properly use them.

Suzy

Reply from someone from the US (lived in Wisconsin and Florida): No one I know (even within my extended circle of acquaintances) has ever had an intruder

Amy
EK

Yes, if you sign up
For alerts can you be made aware of dozens of media reported cases a day of people defending themselves with guns. That’s the media reports, so they’re typically local news stories from American cities large enough to have a local news outlet and who have gotten a local law enforcement report. Additionally, the times weapons are brandished or racked to scare away intruders or would be attackers are not included in self defense with a weapon statistics in the US. Also, in the UK and other nations where guns are essentially banned, petty crimes/muggings and break ins are more common because thieves know they won’t encounter anyone with the ability to defend themselves

Sara

I’d be intrigued to see your statistics that show petty crimes are more common in the UK because of a lack of guns? All statistics I can find point to the opposite?

Brie

I don’t know about shooting intruders, because the laws about this differ from state to state. But I read this statistic on Thursday from the US Justice Department: on average there are 200 instances of legal defensive gun use (LDGU) in America EVERY DAY. Most of these do not involve a shot being fired, they involve a gun being used in a legal manner to defend someone against a physical threat of some kind. I was shocked at this number. Then I read another study from Fla that said the estimate was very low, because those are the instances that actually get reported to law enforcement.
Wow.

Sarah

As a Canadian living in Toronto, I am also fascinated by the idea of needing a gun to defend your personal safety. This is not a mentality that anyone in my ‘bubble’ has. No one I know is worried about an intruder coming to harm to them and their family, yet alone fathoming to defend themselves with a gun. (Fellow Canadians…. if you think differently, please speak up!)

I’m genuinely interested in WHY people are so worried? Other than the fact that the civilians around you also have such easy access the guns 🙂 What’s causing this culture of fear and how can you change it?

Donald

What most Americans terrified of intruders in their houses won’t ever say out loud is that the boogeyman they fear so much, invading their homes at night and doing unspeakable things to their belongings and causing harm to their families, is a brown skinned person.

Katie

They probably won’t say it out loud because it never occurred to them before.

cheswick

HaHa

Daria

Donald, I can’t help but feel the exact same way.

Katie

No. I’ve had an intruder try to break into my home (my husband fought him off with a baseball bat while I called the police), I’ve had family members hide in a closet from one in their home (what’s crazy is we don’t live in and “unsafe” area at all) and both intruders were white. People are afraid of intruders. We don’t care what color they are. Is racism an issue – yes. But this isn’t that.

Estelle

I also can’t help wondering more on the “intruder” question. Would a gun really protect your family? Aren’t you better to hide in your bedroom while they steal your tv? Surely intrusions where they violate a family are very very rare. Or in the time tntakes to unlock your gun safe you are all dead anyway?

Rachel

I live in rural Southern Illinois. In our area there has been an increase in home invasions over the past several years. Just this summer a 70 year old neighbor drew a gun on three people (aged between 20 and 30 years old) that had broken into his house. He did not shoot them but held them until the police could come. Rumor is that they were on drugs. Meth is rampant around here. I never want to come face to face with someone desperate to get enough money to get their next fix. While I don’t live in constant fear of this happening, I just wanted to weigh in that it does happen in rural areas.

Liz P.

I’m an American living in the city of Philadelphia and I, too, am fascinated by the idea of needing a gun to defend your personal safety. My husband is in law enforcement and has a service weapon, which I absolutely hate. If he wasn’t, we wouldn’t have a gun in our house. Despite living in a city with violent crime and a husband who deals with violent criminals daily, I don’t think it’s at all necessary to have a gun. So why am I not worried but others are? It’s an interesting question. When you read the reasons for people wanting to stop the regulation of guns, every reason is related to some fear. Fear of governmental overthrow, fear of intruders, fear of mass shooters walking into a school, fear of street violence. Fear has governed so much of our culture, it’s actually really sad. “We can’t let trans people use women’s rooms because we are afraid they’ll sexually assault our little girls.” “We can’t let Muslims into our country because we are afraid they’ll kill all of us.” “We have to build a wall because we are afraid Mexicans will come and steal our jobs and rape our women.”… Read more »

Ali

I love this comment Liz, very insightful.

AJ

I am Canadian as well and even thought I have lived in the US for 9 years I still don’t have this “fear of intruders” that everyone seems to keep posting about in defense of guns. It’s a fear-based culture that Americans are raised with. I would never dream of owning a gun to “protect my personal safety” because to me it seems so counterintuitive. Also, I feel MUCH safer in general whenever I return home to Canada because of our gun safety laws – and the fact that most people just don’t own guns! If everyone is so afraid for their own personal safety, doesn’t it make sense to look at that issue first? Like Sarah said, WHY are you so worried? Maybe you wouldn’t feel this way if all the “intruders” didn’t have such easy firearm access. As a Canadian, I often find this country very hard to understand.

Anna

It would be interesting to see if intrusions are less frequent in areas where people are more likely to have guns in their homes. I want every single moron who even thinks about entering my home without permission to know that a hazard of their “job” is THEY MIGHT DIE.

I’ll tell my kids this too: Never break into someone’s house because THEY MIGHT KILL YOU. I suspect high rates of gun ownership is a deterrent, but would love to see some stats.

emily

So i had never thought much about guns when I lived in an affluent suburb in Ohio, but then we moved to North Carolina, and suddenly everyone we knew (exception of 2 couples), even generally more liberal friends, had guns. Furthermore, I’ve lived in two different apartment complexes and have watched my neighbors carry in a gun (not in a case), that looks like an AR15. It messes with your head a bit – even for someone as anti-gun as I am and my husband, to realize anecdotally speaking, it seems like everyone had a gun but you. It’s bizarre and to answer your question, i have never heard of home intruders either. I would be speaking from Emily’s bubble to continue to go on, but every argument lately seems so illogical to me. We can regulate dangerous substances and items (or make them illegal) for the greater good. But, I’m not super proud to be an American these days and if Newton didn’t change anything, I’m not hopeful it will now, sadly.

Liz P.

I live in Philadelphia and I’ve heard of intruders and I still don’t think a gun is necessary. 99% of the time (don’t check my statistics) the intruder is either someone looking for money for drugs and isn’t violent (just grabbing what they can and getting out), or, in the case of violent intrusions, the intruder knows the person who’s house they are breaking in to. I personally don’t keep stacks of cash in my house and don’t know any violent criminals, so I’m not worried about violent intruders.

Karlee

My husband and I are liberal leaning moderates…. ( if that’s a thing LOL) my husband owns a hand gun and a shot gun. We have locks on both of them and have always talked to our children about gun safety and how important it is to not touch a gun. Personally I’m not a fan of owning a gun at all ( but I was never raised with any) and AR 15’s or any other military style weapon is completely ridiculous to me. Both my husband and I are fully on board with stricter gun laws and regulations and the fact that an 18 year old is able to go buy those guns legally is mind boggling. Like one of the other commenters mentioned, I think there is a group/generation that is set in their ways and happy in their bubble and I don’t believe will ever budge on this topic. I also believe the conservative politicians and nra fully take advantage of that. I do also believe that the younger generations will at some point soon make the big changes I believe most of Americans want. Waiting for that day is exhausting and frustrating that we will endure… Read more »

Brooke Pate

Hi Emily! I’m an avid reader of your blog and commend you for the way you worded your blog post. I believe that if you and I sat face to face, we would probably whole heartedly disagree on many political issues. However, I also believe we would be kind, respectful, and open-minded. I believe we would both walk away from a political discourse with a better perspective of why we think the way we do and the past and experience that has shaped our world view. It is for all these reasons that I’m even willing to answer this post . I do not get involved in issues on social media. This is a first 😊 I am what you would consider “religious.” I believe with my whole heart, mind, body and soul that Jesus Christ is the son of God and that he is coming back one day. My whole life revolves around this statement. The way I answer anger comes from my love for God. The way I show kindness to others is because of my love for God. The peace I have is because of my love for God. The way that I show love and respect… Read more »

STacy

This! I agree on every point.

I live in a house with a safe of guns. They are respected and remain unused and untouched. (Most were inherited) I feel safer knowing they are there, if say, a crazed person who tried meth for the first time is breaking down my doors. (happened to an acquaintance, who thankfully had a gun!)

Jess

Yes! Great comments. I also want to jump on board the idea of safety with alarm systems. We live in a rural area, technically a township, so there is some debate between the two closest towns as to who would come to our 911 call. Your point about how fast an intruder can move vs. the response time of the local police force is valid. I have heard of people making a 911 call and it taking the police 20 minutes to arrive. A fancy alarm system may not do you any good in that situation.

Hanna

Yes!! This is how it is where I live also!

Anonymous

We are gun owners at my house. My husband is an avid hunter and my kids hunt with him too. Not sure how many guns my husband has but I do know we have shotguns, 22s, and a AR15. He uses the AR for hunting and that’s why I bought it for him a few years ago. I do think they could work on the gun legislation and fix the loops holes of purchasing a gun shows.

After this school shooting I did a quick google to look up the history of school shootings. I found an article that listed the amounts of deaths each year from school shootings. Surprising it showed that during the 90s there were maybe twice as many deaths as in the 2000s. It showed a decline in the amount of deaths was happening. Now I haven’t researched if this article is accurate or anything but found it interesting.

Mallory

Just for full media literacy/ transparency The Trib (The Tribune Review) is a notoriously right leaning paper in the Pittsburgh area. I wouldn’t trust it for any non-biased coverage of the gun control debate. Not that the data isn’t true but the conclusions they come to will definitely have a heavy conservative bias.

Lisa

You read that list and it’s 1, 2, 1, 0 deaths and then suddenly at Sandy Hook you get 28.

28 kids.

Lily

The worse school massacre in US History killed 54 people and injured another 58. It was in 1927, and the guy used a bomb. I don’t understand the sickness that leads someone to kill innocent people. Guns are being used commonly, but if it get harder to get the guns, these sick people will move on to something else – bombs, ramming trucks into crowds, poison, or whatever else their evil little minds conceive.

People *knew* this guy was a danger. They reported him. And the authorities did nothing.

The church shooter, by current law, should’t have been able to buy guns. But the military failed to put him on the “no-guns-for-you” list, even though they were required to do so. The government let us down.

And you think more government will help? We have laws that we’re not enforcing now. I don’t know where you get the faith in government.

Lily

Sorry about the typo above – the bomb 44, and injured 58. Still a shocking number.

p.

ince this is an effort to share perspectives from both sides here, here’s why I believe government has a role to play. We are required to wear seatbelts, and that’s helped some people survive car accidents. We are required to remove our shoes and scan our belongings at the airport in an effort to reduce the chance that someone will be able to board a plane with weapons. If lettuce is making people sick, government agencies issue recalls and they revise food-safety regulations in the hopes of helping save lives. None of these examples are perfect. People still die in car crashes and terrorist attacks, and they still get sick from food, too. But these actions have helped save lives.

Lily

Hmmm, yes, but I would wear a seat belt regardless. Its just a good idea. But I’ll keep my guns. Don’t trust the FBI to protect me.

Tracy

Lily, can we please make these ‘sick’ people move on to using a tool other than guns then? Every other country has, and mass killings are near nonexistent.

Allison

We own two shotguns and a rifle for sport. My husband is not an avid hunter but does maintain a duck lease and comes from a southern family who occasionally hunts. I come from a Midwest family who have never owned a gun or hunted. While we traditionally identify as moderate Republicans, we do not feel any civilian needs to own military style weapons. There is simply no reason for it. Also, I would support legislation that increased gun control.
For me, I feel like both sides over simplify the problem to fit their agenda. Yes, more gun control please, but people who want to hurt people will find a way. We are not failing our children by just allowing easy access to guns.

Sarah Bradshaw

I grew up with 6 brothers and a father who owned guns, hunted, and did target practice in our backyard. My only experience with guns has been with VAST respect, care, and responsibility, because that’s how my family modeled it. I’m pro- SOME gun laws, but there is absolutely no reason for ANY civilian to own an AR-15, or any kind of automatic or semi-automatic weaponry. There’s just. no. reason. I don’t mind guns in general, but think we DEFINITELY need more responsibility and screening for those who own them. I’m politically conservative, and am SO ANGRY with conservative politicians for holding on to loose laws for political reasons, instead of doing what they can to protect people. THAT SAID, I believe at my very core that you can’t legislate morality. We can (and should!!) create and change laws to protect the majority, but there will always be people who break laws. I live in Washington, DC, where gun usage has been outlawed for years, and one of my brothers got mugged at gunpoint while landscaping my backyard in 2011. He was literally held up with a gun shoved in his back, in a place where guns are strictly prohibited.… Read more »

Milly

I agree with a lot of the sentiments of this comment – I think the heart of this issue is more about why are kids/adults enacting these mass killings and less about how they are doing it. I am a gun owner and supporter, and like the rest of these level-Headed commenters do not think there is any reason for civilians to own these military grade guns and support some sort of tighter gun laws. However, the cause really lies in mental illness and until our country starts to address those issues, I fear these types of violence will not stop. Additionally, while i do think people with mental illness should not be allowed access to weapons in general, i wonder from a pure logistical standpoint how that would work? There are so many people undiagnosed or not seeking medical help in our country I wonder how we could even create or keep an accurate list?

Estelle

Mental illness is a problem in every country and certainly where I come from (NZ) then management and care of it is woefully inadequate (we have a terrifyingly high teen suicide rate). The same in Australia. However neither country has problems with guns or mass shootings (guns are regulated). So I think it is unreasonable to divert blame to mental health issues – this seems to be propaganda issued by the NRA

Anna

Thanks for your comment Estelle, it is enlightening.

Milly

Estelle, according to The World Health Organization the United States has the highest percentage of mental illness of any country in the world. Within 12 months an estimated 27% of people will go through some sort of mental issue. In New Zealand, the figure it close to 20%. The United States has a population 70x the size of New Zealand, so all in all – 86 million more people deal with this issue in the US than in your country. To compare these two countries with vastly different sizes, cultures, and argue because your country doesn’t have an issue means every country shouldn’t is just ignorant. To me, saying that mental illness is not apart of the problem is saying that kids who grow up in households only have the idea of mass shootings because they have access to a gun. Seriously?

Jen

To comment further on the mental health aspect of the debate, a friend of mine who is a psychiatrist said that she is finding that people are deterred to seek help for mental illness if they feel like it may put something on their “record”, and could be denied some things such as owning a gun. It was something I hadn’t thought of before, and helped me see some of the complexity of the issue.

seelu

Many adults failed to do their job. The boy had problems, everyone knew about it, it’s hard to believe he wasn’t taken into custody for a mental evaluation and then monitored instead of being allowed to roam the neighborhood.

From the Washington Post: Nikolas Cruz, the older brother, was especially moody, prone to an explosive temper and seeming to delight in torturing animals and provoking everyone else on the block. He killed squirrels with a pellet gun. He stole neighbors’ mail. He tried to get his dog to attack and bloody the pet piglets being raised in the house across the street. He picked fights with other kids constantly, biting one kid’s ear. He threw rocks and coconuts, vandalized property. He lurked at late hours along drainage ditches that run alongside the back yards of every house on this block. One neighbor caught him peeking into her bedroom window.

kddomingue

I believe you summed up what would have been quite a lengthy response from me with the question “What precedes gun violence?”. That is indeed , in my mind, the conversation that we as a country desperately need to be having.

Guns do not kill people. They are inanimate objects. People kill people. It’s the brain in the head of the body that the arm, hand and fingers are attached to that sends the signal to the finger to pull the trigger. Why? Why would someone decide to kill multiple people? And in many cases random people that they don’t even know. Why? No gun? A person who desires to kill will make a bomb or use a knife or drive a van into a crowd of people. The “why” needs to be addressed.

cheswick

Yes, there is rampant mental illness – and really the questions may be why do young men do this? Why are our young men so angry and incapable of dealing with their emotions?

However, the guns do not kill people argument is such a straw man. Taking the parkland attack as an example, how would it have gone down if this kid didn’t have his semi-automatic weapons? He would have attacked with a knife? I don’t think so – not the same kind of power trip that Emily mentions in her intro statement. And if he did, surely the casualties would be way less. Or he would have acquired a truck somehow that he would have driven into the school? Doubtful. These attacks are very much about guns, the power of guns, the accessibility of guns, and the madness of our gun laws.

emily

This is so illogical to me. Heroin was just sitting on a shelf until a human came along. No need to have a law about seatbelts, prescription opioids, speed limits, whatever because the object/device didn’t do anything, people do. Just because an object doesn’t have agency doesn’t mean we can’t have laws to protect people because it’s inherent (or not inherent) use can be dangerous.

Hanna

I love this!! I am totally with you on this one!!

Emily

Another Emily here 👋🏻 I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin in a house with guns. My dad talked about hunting but never really got around to it. His guns were for dealing with vermin. I only know of him shooting animals in our yard that were rabid or otherwise sick. Now, my husband and I live with our one-year-old on twelve acres in Wisconsin. It’s VERY rural. We have one rifle and a shotgun. We’re comfortable having them in case there’s ever an animal situation. (Its rare, but sometimes bears wander into our area) more likely, we’ll have to deal with sick wildlife. We do have a shooting range in the backyard. It’s VERY safe and fun. We also live in prime hunting territory (but we don’t hunt) and a shooting range is about two miles away. Most rural folks in our area have guns (I think) but they’re also responsible gun owners. I HATE the NRA and 100% that we need reform. What’s most frustrating is the propaganda the NRA and other conservative organizations are feeding whoever will listen. I have only ever voted as a liberal, and I don’t think stable, responsible adults should have… Read more »

Jill

Really appreciate you bringing this up for discussion. I am curious to hear from both sides. I am for stricter gun control and have never understood why it is easier to buy a gun than it is to get a drivers license. Why can’t there be training and testing for a license to buy and carry a gun?

Rebekah

We own guns. I’ll give my ideas, with trepidation.. I hope to not be attacked for my ideas …. Not that I think you would do that, Emily, but by other readers. I own guns because I think it is part of being a responsible citizen, like voting. Gun ownership by citizens is a check on the government, like a two party political system is a check on the ideas of both parties. Do I think I’ll ever need to use it? I doubt it. Do I want to give up my right to access the same guns that could be used by the government against me? No. Gun control I’m comfortable with: – raising the age at which you can purchase AR-15s or M-16s. There is a reason you can’t rent a car until you are in your later twenties. I think all these reasons apply to gun ownership too, unless you are a member of the military or an honorably discharged member of the military. – open to restrictions regarding magazine size & additions to semi-automatic rifles that make them essentially automatic. – open to raising the cost of AR-15s (through taxing) to make it difficult for young… Read more »

Lisa

I can kind of understand the people who live somewhere where they a) fear their house will be broken into by someone with a gun when they are there and b) feel that they would have time to get their gun and the presence of mind to aim it correctly and only hurt the invader.

But, I admit, I am unable to understand the belief that a) the government is going to come and get you (unless for a crime or lack of documents) or b) that if the government did somehow become totalitarian and come after its citizens in a violent manner, that owning a gun would have any possibility at all of saving us.

Kim

I know a lot of people who share Rebekah’s views, and I don’t disagree. While I can’t speak for her, my friends view it as a check on government not because there’s any imminent or even probable threat of a totalitarian government, but that the knowledge that the population is well-armed and could form a militia is in itself a check on totalitarian impulses of government. It is very much rooted in the history of the American Revolution.

cheswick

It doesn’t seem to be much of a check on our current totalitarian-leaning government.

Lisa

The American Revolution was fought against a government that was across an ocean, 200+ years ago.

So while I hear you, I can’t help but imagine that the appeal of being able to “form a militia” is rooted more in someone’s emotional makeup and personal history than a cognitive analysis of what a government is apt to do in 2018.

But then I have come to the conclusion that politics in the end is rarely rational, and that people’s beliefs are formed by their deep emotional experiences – early in life often – and therefore without new deep emotional experiences those beliefs are unlikely to change.

I will say that discussions like this one that Emily has facilitated are surely our best hope of understanding each other and edging back towards a center that can create a more unified America.

AJ

The government is going to use guns against you? What does that even mean? And how would you owning a gun protect you against this? Genuine questions & would love a response.

Sonja

My family owns two guns, one for hunting (I’m married to an Alaskan) and one for self protection. I hate that we have the glock – all my research says that guns in the house leads to more deadly incidents. Full stop. Our compromise is that the gun is unloaded and in a locked gun safe. (And, honestly, it’s not even currently in our house right now. My BIL is in the national guard and so it’s living in his gun safe). I’m ok with the shot gun and comfortable with its purpose. It has a trigger lock, is unloaded, the bullets are not with the gun, and is in a locked cabinet that my kids don’t have the keys to. We talk a lot about gun safety in our house. That said, I would give up both in an INSTANT if we could ban them entirely from our country. If nobody had guns, than my husband wouldn’t feel that we’d need the hand gun for self protection. And I say that not just because I have young kids in schools (that are currently, literally, under attack) but because it would make everyone in our country safer. At this point… Read more »

Malin

I don’t own a gun, or know anyone that does, never even seen one. In Sweden weapons are owned by hunters, criminals and cops.

Beth

We own a gun for hunting, all of the meat our family eats is wild game husband has harvested, legally, himself. Everything he shoots, we eat. We also have handgun, locked, in our home. He and I both feel strongly that there should ABSOLUTELY be stronger gun laws and there is NO reason what so ever anyone should have access to an automatic rifle. I’d gladly turn over every gun we own and never eat a wild animal again if it meant I could bring my babies to school with out the fear that they might get murdered.

Jane

Hi Emily! I commend you for asking respectfully for the views of those on the other side of the aisle. I’m an American, I live in England and quite frankly, will never move back. I don’t think it’s too much to ask citizens to hand in their guns for the greater good. Sure, allow shotguns for sport but nothing else should be in the hands of the general public. It really upsets me that someone’s gun is more important to them than another person’s child.

It’s not video games, it’s not mental health that’s the problem, it’s the selfishness of American society. The same selfishness that fuels the American dream has completely divided the country.

It’s very sad to see the state of affairs across the pond.

Ellen

Hi Jane, I understand your sentiments, and while I don’t entirely disagree with you, what you’re suggesting is a bit troubling, and hopefully I can explain why.

You state: “I don’t think it’s too much to ask citizens to hand in their guns for the greater good.” Asking law abiding citizens to hand in their legally owned property to the government is outrageous. I know that guns can be dangerous, I know that the state of affairs right now is frightening. But the government taking your property is also very frightening, sets a scary precedent, and is part of the reason why people are allowed to own guns in the first place: so that the government can’t take advantage of you.

Also, people’s guns are important to them in part so that they can protect themselves and others. A pervasive attitude about guns isn’t that they are MORE important than another person’s child, they are important BECAUSE of another person’s child. If the bad people have guns (because we all agree that laws don’t stop bad people), then good people should have them too so that maybe they can try and stop them.

Hopefully that all made sense!

cheswick

Thinking of guns as just property is maybe the problem. If I made a nuclear weapon in my basement, is that my property that government shouldn’t be concerned with? If I have a meth lab in my basement, is that just my property? Do you really think that people should be having a gun fight with the governement? That the guns are keeping the ‘government’ from invading your home? The government builds roads, schools, etc. They’re not coming to invade your property. If the government wants to take advantage of you, it’s not going to be by force. And if they did want to take you by force – they have way more force than your guns will be able to fight off. It’s just a nonsensical argument. Also, how many instances are there where people have fought off intruders or ‘bad people’ with their guns where this scenario turned out with a positive result. I’d love to know this statistic!

Lisa

Ellen,

I ask in true confusion.

In what scenario do you think the government, and what arm of the government, would come to take your property? Has it happened to you? Why do you worry it will?

In all the things I am concerned about that has just never occurred to me.

Thank you.

Kristi

Lisa, governments ALL eventually fall. Whether from a revolution from within or an invader from the outside, our way of life here will eventually come to an end and the transition will not likely be an easy one. Consider that a mainland invasion of the US is much less palatable to foreign governments if they know that we have an armed populace (70 years ago/WWII is a mere hiccup in time ago).

How about Trump? Do you dislike him? Believe he is dangerous? Might he stage a coup to retain power? What if we were suddenly dealing with a hostile government? Or if our government destabilizes, who steps in? China?

Or what if NK manages to take out our electrical grid for a week? Or the big earthquake in SoCal comes. If you live in a dense city, things will get pretty ugly, pretty fast (think post-Katrina NOLA, LA riots). Might you want a gun to protect yourself from looters? In a large-scale disaster, the cops won’t be answering 911 calls in a timely manner, that’s for sure.

These are some reasons that people want to own guns. Probable? No. Possible? Completely.

Anonymous in Philly

This point is where I get hung up with the 2nd amendment. The right to bear arms is much more about having an armed populace against the threat of a totalitarian government than it is about citizens protecting themselves and their families from home Invaders. How do we reconcile this piece of the Constitution with what our culture is today and this horrible unintended consequence of children killing other children with the same arms that responsible citizens also bear. The authors of the Constitution certainly didn’t foresee this outcome, so how do we move forward from here?

Lisa

Well, let’s look at what you say. I think on balance it leads us still to sensible gun control.

– Yes, in an apocalypse – nuclear war, vampires, monsters – I would want a gun. And silver bullets. But apocalypses are low-probability.

– So what about non-apocalypse higher-probability attack events?

– An invasion by another country wouldn’t be stopped by owning guns. They’d come with advanced weaponry, we’d be lost. If China steps in, they’ll have prepared for 50 years before they do one anything.

– Looters in a survivable natural disaster, I would think, could be stopped with single-shot rifles. In those situations people are going for what is easily taken – that’s kind of the definition of looting.

So, balancing possible future apocalypses against already happening mass shootings, I’d try to solve for the terrible thing that is already real. Things I’ve seen suggested by knowledgeable gun people include setting up a buyback program for all semi-automatic/large magazine capacity guns, and serious licensing and background check processes for the purchase of the guns that remained legal.

I think that’s why the term “sensible gun control” is taking hold. Something in between confiscation of everything and allowing for everything.

Anna

Emily, I don’t think violent video games or violent music or movies are to blame. It seems as if whenever there is a mass shooting, the public is quickly to blame video games. There has been studies and more recently this one:
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180116131317.htm that shows there is NO evidence between video games and aggression. I grew up playing video games and so did my husband, and neither of us carried out a mass shooting, nor anyone else I know who plays or played video games. Wr need to stop pointing fingers at movies, games, music. GUNS cause massacres, not videogames.

Katie

But here’s the thing: it’s proven that movies, games, and music affect the way one THINKS. Guns only provide an outlet for that messed-up way of thinking. People don’t stare at guns until they suddenly start thinking crazy thoughts. However, crazy movies, games, and music that promote violence, killing, and rape most DEFINITELY change a person’s mindset and have an affect on their actions. The gun is the tool; not the cause.
And just as you grew up playing video games and never killed anyone, so have many grown up shooting and owning guns and have never killed anyone. Again, we’re talking about .01% of the population. You dont’ want video games banned. Well, some of us don’t want guns banned.

Shine

This

Lori

Please read Emily, Great conversation. We do own guns. I was opposed for many years but even though I live in a well lit, higher end neighborhood, my cars were broken into twice and house once so we bought a couple guns. There are 300million guns owned in US. They aren’t going away. If they ban semi automatic weapons, there are YouTube videos that teach you how to make them with $15 worth of parts added to a regular gun. We have to look beyond the gun control issue. For starters, I think all people with a following, like you, could influence Hollywood to stop making movies and video games that romanticize gun violence. Such an easy change to make. Our kids are desensitized from watching these. Secondly, I think more needs to be done to figure out why so many kids are mentally challenged and require medications. Is it an environmental issue or chemicals in our food? To me, these issues far outweigh the gun issue. The gun didn’t commit the crimes, the person pulling the trigger did. He could’ve easily used a car and ran into a crowd of students. We need to get to the root cause… Read more »

Anonymous in Philly

Thank you for sharing. I have a follow up question that I’ve wondered after many posts… Do you imagine the gun would prevent another burglary or are you worried about more violent threats since you have experienced crime against your property?

Enwadh

As a mother of two, every time we get a call from school, my heart skips a beat as my first thought is ‘are the kids ok’!

Shootings in schools, supposedly they safest place for them, are happening way often. For those that own guns on the pretext of self defense and protecting their families, how do you protect your child when they are not with you – which is the majority of their day. Because you wish to protect yourself/ your child for the few hours that they are in your care —at home, you expose them to the threat of others with access to guns the rest of the day.
Not sure how that is worth it!

Nicole R

We own guns. By we I mean my husband and his family. We literally have a “gun room”. We are a Florida farming family. I grew up in CA, Bakersfield but still CA. I do think there needs to be tighter gun laws, I do think there needs to be tighter gun laws and restrictions. My husband bought a gun recently that I wasn’t excited about and he said it took 3 hours and normally took half that time. I think it should take way longer than that. Pre children I loved shooting sporting clays. Loved he challenge of it. My husband is great at it and participates in fundraisers similar to golf tournaments. All of our guns are doubled secured where even if the kids got ahold of them there is a second lock on the gun and they would not be able to load them. We own zero gun toys and have 3 boys. That was actually my husbands policy. I’m sure we will have nerf guns or similar someday when they are gifted but we want to our kids to know how serious guns are. So recap- yes to more restrictions even though we are a rural… Read more »

Mary

I live in Texas but my husband and I lean more liberal on a lot of issues than our friends and family do. I take classes at our local community college which allows concealed carry. I said something to my husband about it yesterday and how it makes me uncomfortable. But his response was that he thinks its good. That everyone with a concealed carry license has to have training. He’d rather have that than only have bad guys with guns and not anyone else. We both feel like there should be stricter laws but his comments have really made me think. I’m not sure where I land on it. But I appreciate you opening a dialogue and trying to help more people communicate their perspectives.

K Bell

I live in the UK where guns are severely restricted, and it feels safe. Read about the Dunblane Massacre which happened almost 20 years ago, and the public Snowdrop campaign afterwards at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunblane_massacre.
Guns used to be more widely kept in homes, more especially in country areas, but not now; there’s no need.
Also look at Australia, which changed its gun-heavy culture (my husband is from hicksville country Oz).

Kristin

Hi Emily, thank you for providing an open dialogue and platform for discussion. My husband owns a shotgun and rifle for game hunting. We are a game eating family and one deer and/or elk from a legal hunting area gives our family more than a years worth of meat for meals.

We have two girls that are very young and my husband and I have discussed in length gun safety, storage, healthy/appropriate conversations about guns, etc. I would say our home is conservative for our babies and there’s very little TV and what he watched is purposefully and mindfully.

My family growing up did not own guns. We barely discussed them, but a gun in our home wouldn’t have made me feel safe. The feeling if safety is and was created by the relationship I had with my parents and family.

This is my experience and my lense on guns and gun ownership. My husband, as a gun owner, is 100% in support of more gun regulations. I am 1000% in support of stronger gun regulations.

Anon

As a Canadian I am finding this very insightful to read and will keep checking back and reading. Thanks for the well written post Emily, and for the very interesting and eloquent responses from all the commenters.

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