What gun violence denialists have in common with other science denialists

Assault rifle bent

Another day, another gun massacre.

In Louisiana last night:

A “drifter” sat silently in a movie theater for 20 minutes before shooting 11 other patrons in an incident that was over in matter of seconds, witnesses and police in Louisiana said early Friday.

[He] 59, was seated in the theater “just like everybody else” before firing 13 rounds, killing two people and wounding nine others with a .45 caliber handgun, Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft told reporters. Houser later took his own life.

The proximate cause is obvious to everyone in the world but gun aficionados; the proximate cause is the easy access to guns brought to us by a corrupt legislative process orchestrated by the National Rifle Association and its mounds of cash.

Gun rights advocates are denialists just like anti-vaxxers are denialists, and they are every bit as dangerous to public health.

Americans favor gun restrictions [edited to replace “strict gun control”]. Gun restriction is associated with decreased gun violence. Yet, the NRA opposes gun control and their cash contributions to legislators trump the will of the American people, the victims of American gun violence, and common sense itself. The truth is that the NRA is a group of gun violence denialists who have an amazing amount in common with science denialists of all stripes from creationists, to climate change denialists, to anti-vaxxers, to purveyors of “alternative” remedies.

Don’t believe me? Consider this definition of denialism offered by Andrew Dart in an chapter from Building your Skeptical Toolkit:

Denialism … is driven by ideology rather than evidence. Now denialists may claim they care about the evidence and will happily display any that supports their point of view, but in most cases they reject far more evidence than they accept. Furthermore, denialists will cling to evidence no matter how many times they have been shown that it is flawed, incorrect or that it does not support their conclusions; the same old arguments just come up again and again. Denialism also tends to focus on trying to generate a controversy surrounding the subject at hand, often in the public rather than scientific arena, and does so more often than not by denying that a scientific consensus on the matter even exists.

Pretty much nails gun violence denialism, right?

1. Denialists start with a conclusion and work backwards.

It doesn’t matter how much evidence you show to climate change deniers, creationists or anti-vaxxers. They’ve embraced a conclusion and they’re sticking to it, regardless of what the evidence actually shows. Similarly, there’s no evidence that you could show gun violence denialists that would cause them to even question their beloved conclusions about guns, let alone change those conclusions.

2. Denialists love denial.

Who you gonna believe, the NRA or your lying eyes?

Like the climate change deniers who will still be in denial as the water rises above their heads, and the evolution deniers who insist that dinosaur bones were planted by God to test our faith, or the anti-vaxxers who can still claim with a straight face that vaccines don’t prevent disease, gun violence denialists are still denying the dangers of easy access to guns as the pile of dead bodies mounts beside them.

3. Denialists love conspiracy theories.

As Dart explains:

So the vast majority of the scientific community and an overwhelming mountain of evidence is aligned against you, what are you going to do? Well you could always claim that there is a conspiracy to suppress the truth …

The favorite conspiracy theory of gun violence denialists is that the government wants to take away people’s guns in order to stage a fascist takeover.

Conspiracy theories, whether blunt or subtle, are nothing more than evasions of the actual evidence that easy access to guns leads to massive numbers of gun deaths, as well as the absence of any evidence of any kind that gun control is the first step to a fascist take over the of the US.

4. Denialists love cherry-picking.

Cherry picking is the act of selecting papers and evidence that seem to support your point of view, whilst at the same time ignoring the far greater body of evidence that goes against your position.

Gun violence denialists claim that research shows that easy access to guns makes us “safer,” when the evidence is all around us that in countries with easy access to guns life is more dangerous for everyone, particularly innocent people.

5. Denialists love echo chambers.

They seek support and validation for their views at NRA conventions and on Fox News and refuse to directly address the concerns of victims of gun violence and public safety experts.

The inevitable conclusion is one that anyone who cares about scientific integrity and intellectual honesty should keep in mind:

It is not the topic that makes someone a denialist, it is how they the handle evidence that contradicts their cherished, immutable beliefs, in this case, the rising tide of the blood of innocent people injured and killed in gun rampages. Do they deny the evidence that is right in front of their eyes. Do they invoke outlandish conspiracy theories? Do they cherry pick the data and only present those findings that agree with them? And do they congregate in echo chambers that always validate and never question their beliefs?

Gun rights advocates are denialists just like anti-vaxxers are denialists, and they are every bit as dangerous to public health.

  • Casey Brown

    I enjoy your website and appreciate the information and perspective on parenting issues, since I agree that much of modern mothering trends are anti-science hype. However, I suggest you focus on your area of expertise in order to maximize that message. Pointing out the dangers of home birth and silly beliefs about the benefits of breastfeeding is valuable, but taking policy positions on 2nd amendment issues or discussing climate change is going to dilute your message by driving otherwise receptive people away.

  • yentavegan

    Now you can see why I teeter on the edge of crippling paranoia. I am afraid to go to the movies and the last time I was in a mall I kept scanning the space for the crazy man with the gun…

    • Young CC Prof

      Eh, you’re still less likely to die by violence in the USA today than at just about any point in human history. The murder rate was much higher 20 years ago, for example. Mass shootings make headlines, but they are still super-rare compared to other hazards we routinely accept.

    • Who?

      You’re probably more likely to crash your car on the way there or back. Which at least you’ll have a hand in, most likely.

  • Leesah

    “Who you gonna believe, the NRA or your lying eyes?”

    Did you mean “own” eyes? Or is this some kind of Eagles reference?

    • Who?

      Well not the NRA, anyhow.

      • Sue

        Whenever the NRA makes a fuss about gun restrictions in Australia, it reminds us we are doing the right thing.

        • SporkParade

          I am fondly remembering someone trying to bring up Israel as an example of a country where people have guns and there’s little gun violence, and then getting their butt handed to them because Israel actually has some of the strictest gun laws in the world.

        • Who?

          Quite so. If the NRA doesn’t like it, dollars to donuts that’s a good idea.

        • Kate

          Yep, the NRA tried to tell Aussies recently that we’re oppressed because we can’t buy assault rifles at KMart. The social media response can best be summarised as “Why don’t you take your assault rifle and stick it up your arse” because we’ve become inexplicably used to not having regular massacres anymore.

    • It’s a Marx Brothers reference.

  • DelphiniumFalcon

    I think gun violence is a huge issue in the US but I also think it’s a (very large and important) symptoms of a larger problem in that Americans have this really disturbing love affair with violence.

    We’ll take our eight hear olds to see The Two Towers and watch off heads fly off orc bodies in a stream of blood and not give it a passing thought. We’ll show horrible car accidents on the afternoon news with the twisted wreckage and sometimes the horribly injured victims and not bat an eye. We’ll shriek death to Muslims/Mexicans/Black Thugs, and so on without thinking of them as people. Just targets or ideologies to be wiped out. We’ll buy Dead Space for preteens to play despite it being rated M for gore and violence. It’s rather sick when you think about it.

    We allow children to shoot cats or other small animals with bb guns and say “boys will be boys” instead of “That’s a serial killer in the making.” Then we’ll let these same kids get a .22 when they’re older. Recipe for disaster.

    We don’t teach any kind of respect for life. Except life that’s directly related to you. We have to discourage men from violence or objectification of women by saying “What if she were your sister/wife?” when we shouldn’t have to use a qualifier to make it hit home. They’re a human being and we shouldn’t want another person to be subjected to violence or basic dehumanization.

    Shooting squirrels or small rodents is an acceptable passtime in the places I grew up. No reason for it like protecting a garden, just for fun. It’s messed up. My dad, despite being a gung ho gun owner, gets angry and fed in the face if he catches kids doing that and he doesn’t care whose kids they are he sits them down for a talk. He asks what they were doing shooting animals. And they’d say they were bored or some other excuse like it’s fun. He points to the dead animal and asks them if they’re going to eat it. They say no. If they’re going to use the first for something. They say no. We’re they going to use the animal in any way at all? They say no. Then he asks, “So you just decided to get up today and go deprive a living creature of its life for your amusement?” They don’t know what to do. They know not to mouth off because my dad is a huge, scary looking guy and has the kind of voice my husband says is “the pants shitting terror voice of command that you follow out of some deep seated instinct. Or self preservation” he doesn’t yell but he was raised by a a man who served a stint as a drill sergeant in the Korean War.

    He makes them go pick up the dead animals and dispose of them properly with as much respect as is possible. It might seem silly but he wants them to understand the gravity of taking a life, even if that life was just a squirrel. They definitely don’t do it again .

    We were taught from an early age that every life has meaning, even if it’s just a rodent. Don’t kill something unless you have to. Rats getting in to the pantry is one thing. Killing them for giggles is another. If you shoot a game animal, use every part you realistically can. Shooting for trophies just shows you take pride in killing and what does that say about you as a human being? But I find a lot of kids where I’ve lived haven’t been taught that respect. I think it’s a huge problem.

    Combine this love of.violence, cavalier attitude towards life, and easy access to guns and no wonder we have so many gun deaths.

    Either the culture has to change or the laws do. And despite the best efforts of people like my dad, the culture isn’t changing. Which means the laws need to.

  • SporkParade

    I don’t get these people who think they need guns for self-defense. Even for trained soldiers, accuracy tends to go out the window as soon as there’s an actual threat. Yet these people who go to the target range for fun once a week at most think they can stop whatever they think is threatening them?

    • Mattie

      It’s also training as to who/what is an actual threat, otherwise you get racists with guns shooting black people because they find them threatening even when they’re just living their lives…obviously it would be awesome if some of those racists with guns weren’t police officers but there we go.

      • SporkParade

        You have just answered my question, “Who do they think they are going to shoot, anyway?”

    • Who?

      I wonder how they live. What do you as a regular person have to do to a ‘bad guy’ to have him come after you? Nice people can end up in dodgy situations, no question, but surely that’s a one off, not a cause for carrying a deadly weapon. Especially one you can’t reliably use.

      • Young CC Prof

        The one reasonably common situation where it kind of makes sense is someone who has recently left an abusive relationship. As a statistician, whenever someone expresses fears of violence, I ask, “Do you have a crazy ex?” Otherwise, assuming you aren’t in a gang or dealing drugs, the risk is pretty small.

        Even then, the gun is at high risk of being used improperly.

        • Steph858

          I own a small shop in a poor area, and was worried about being robbed at knifepoint (very strict gun control here in the UK, though being robbed at gunpoint is still a possibility). Been running for 3 years and the only crimes committed against me to date have been criminal damage, shoplifting, identity theft (not someone stealing my identity – he stole someone else’s identity and used a bank card he’d fraudulently obtained to buy stuff from my shop) and loitering.

          I would say ‘knock on wood’, but, as I always say to irate customers who threaten to “Rob you and smash your shop up” if I don’t sell His Drunkenness some Special Brew, “Thanks for doing me a favour – I’ll enjoy making a claim on my insurance for all the stuff you nicked/damaged, as well as all the stuff you didn’t but my insurance company will think you did.”

      • Wishful

        Well it depends on where you are living. I grew up in an area in were you kind of regularly went “Gun or pot hole?” and either guess was 50/50. I can remember a man showing up with a gun because he simply was out of his mind on drugs and was at the wrong house. I don’t think that would have stopped him from killing our family if he wasn’t talked down by the lie “There are no men here only women.” or if he caught on that I was lying. Some areas suffer a lot of street violence and sometimes its related to something someone in your family did. Did it happen everyday, certainly not. However, there are 3-4 times I can think of where I would have been better off with a gun or at least I believe I would have been.

    • Inmara

      At one point it becomes self feeding cycle – if everyone and their grandma own a gun then crimes which otherwise would be thefts or in worst case would involve some knife can become armed robberies. And then you may need a gun to defend your house.

  • Wombat

    Slightly OT but 1 and 4 personified:

    http://i.imgur.com/uZC5fF9.gif

    From College Humor’s “If Google was a Guy” series. Funny and worth a watch for sure, might be slightly not work appropriate, depending on your workplace, but nothing too out there iirc.

  • Kq

    This is for @Kesiana

    • Spamamander

      Welcome to Night Vale! <3

  • Azuran

    The idea that more guns is the solution, and that if the victims had guns, less people would have died is ridiculous and insulting their memory.
    What do you think would have happened if, after he shot his first victim, 20 other people take out their guns and open fire on him in a packed theater full of panicked people?

    • KarenJJ

      Yes. The answer is always “more guns” not less.

      • Liz Leyden

        And those guns must be loaded, carried openly, and taken everywhere, like Starbucks and Wal*Mart. Unless you’re a black guy checking out a pellet gun at Wal*Mart, or a tween with a toy gun in a park.

        When white people “open carry,” they’re exercising their second amendment rights. When blacks do it, it’s “OH MY GOD!! HE’S GOT A GUN!!”

        I’m black, I have son, I live in a state with a lot of hunting, and I worry.

        • Nick Sanders

          Honestly, since actually reducing the number of guns around now seems like a pipe dream, I have started supporting the idea that all carry should be open carry. I feel I should have the right to know when I’m in the presence of a gun, so I can go elsewhere.

          • Mattie

            I agree, I would also love if in open carry states as soon as someone with a gun enters a public place they should be treated as a potential threat, because you really never know. Wonder how quickly people would demand change if there were lockdowns every 5 minutes, the police were called every time someone was open carrying (just in case) and the people open carrying were treated as potential criminals.

        • demodocus

          Even my oblivious Anglo self has noticed that, and its a damned shame. Dad thinks everyone should be able to carry guns; he calls himself an equal opportunity misanthrop.
          One of the boys in my neighborhood is a big black kid. Seriously, he’s about 5’8″ and over 200lbs, but his face looks like he’s 13. I worry about him a bit, because I know how much trouble being big caused for my brother, and it must be that much more difficult for him.

  • indigosky

    Guns have their place, but not as home defense. I lived in a lovely little town in the Upper Peninsula of MI for a few years. Their guns were used to bring down a couple of deer and maybe a wild boar that they used to survive the winter. It was a small tourist town that shut down November through March, and 75% of the population went on unemployment and barter was still wildly used as a form of commerce. When discussing my big city upbringing with locals and talking about how guns were used for defense, they laughed hysterically at the absurdity of such notions. Their guns were locked up and had trigger locks, and a lot of the time ammo was bought on the way to hunting, and all used up before the hunter came home.

  • Roadstergal

    It seems like Australia already did the trial for us, tightening up their gun laws in the wake of a mass shooting. And I haven’t seen it descend into an only-criminals-have-guns Mad Max wasteland.

    • demodocus

      Only because the good guys are certified ninjas

    • Mattie

      I mean, UK did it too, after Dunblane https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunblane_school_massacre

      • Wombat

        This just makes the bare whiff of reform we got after Newtown that much sadder. It and countless other incidents like it should have been our catalyst, and instead we got some weak effort at cooperation and compromise and a lot of rabble rousing from the gun manufacturers lobby (what the media ought to start calling the NRA, imo).

        • Mattie

          I mean, if we’re being honest Columbine should have been the catalyst…because if they’d fixed this issue in 1999 then the countless horrendous massacres that have happened since wouldn’t have happened.

          • Who?

            More guns, and more effective guns, don’t seem to be having the preventive effect the NRA has been saying it should.

            But since they represent the arms industry, not the community, it should be no surprise.

          • Wombat

            True, true.
            There are even older incidents with enough regional coverage to warrant non-local action too I’m sure.

            I guess I just feel like letting it get down to primary school children is the bottom of the barrel (most anyone is bad enough already) and we still couldn’t be arsed.

      • AmandaKCox
    • Who?

      Well it is mostly the criminals who have unlicensed guns, but they are very mindful about pulling them out. It’s a rare thing for someone to pull out a gun in a criminal enterprise, and even rarer that it be used. Guns seem like a statement that for some reason even fairly hardened criminals don’t want to make. Police here will shoot you with one warning or less if you have a gun in your hand-it is safe for them to assume you are a bad guy.

      And since Port Arthur, very few mass killings. Farmers still unfortunately use their licensed guns for suicide, and occasionally murder/suicide, but they are much more rare incidents than they used to be.

  • Mel

    The NRA seems to move against the views of their members if you assume that the members of the NRA are US gun owners.

    The truth is that the NRA is the lobbying arm of the gun manufacturing sector. Looking at it that way, the NRA’s position makes heaps of sense. The NRA wants to prevent ANY restrictions on gun ownership because it would reduce the sales of guns which would cut into the profits of the gun industry.

    • Megan

      This is a good point. I always thought that the fact the NRA’s response to school shootings by the suggestion that teachers was absolutely ludicrous but now I see why they are pitching it – more gun sales! The thought of teachers having guns to “protect” our children is asinine and most teachers don’t want anything to do with it. Imagine the liability for the teachers and the school!

      Personally I live in an area where hunting is popular and necessary to control our population of white-tailed deer. I personally have no problem if someone wants to own a hunting rifle, though I do think mandatory training and licensing would be nice. What I do object to is the semi-automatic weapons and military ste weapons that have become so popular. There is no reason regular people should have better guns than our cops! If you want to for for recreation I would be ok with a policy that guns be kept at firing ranges under lock and key but truthfully no one needs a handgun or a semi-automatic weapon unless they are in the military or law enforcement.

      • Megan

        Ugh. So many typos… Sorry!

      • Mattie

        But surely the NRA needs members in order to continue…or at least in order to continue with the same amount of money/power. I don’t understand how so many NRA members can condone things like the NRA having rallies in towns where mass shootings have just occurred, or support them in their victim-blaming tactics?

        Surely if the NRA is made up of majority ‘good’ people who support gun control and are not nuts, then if they pulled out from the organisation…or even started their own, then the NRA would lose its grip on government?

        • Megan

          Well there are normal gun owners who are members and would not condone those things (like my husband, who was required, as a civil war reenactor who owns a replica rifles musket and incidentally, hates that he is a NRA member) and then there are the loud, crazy NRA members who would condone rallies like that. The NRA is a very large organization and I imagine that the craziest of them are a very loud minority.

          • Mattie

            Perhaps there needs to be legislation allowing for an alternative organisation to be created, so people are required to be a member of one but not both, and the alternative could be not-nuts lol

          • Megan

            Ha! My husband pitched his NRA sticker when it came in the mail. He enjoys doing living history (and incidentally has no ammo for the gun so it couldn’t be used for anything other than reenactments) and loves military history but is about as unconfrontational and nonviolent as you can get. He hates the NRA. When we lived in New Jersey he had to go through paperwork and a background check even to own his replica rifle but he didn’t mind because he feels all gun owners should have to do that. If they have nothing to hide, why does it matter? Anyway, in Pennsylvania (where we live now) gun laws are much more relaxed and you can walk into Walmart and buy a gun anytime you wanted.

      • demodocus

        You mean you don’t think the answer is to arm the police with the latest in military hardware?

        • Roadstergal

          Okay, time to share a photo I took at a stoplight just a few blocks down from where I live, that I had put on my FB:

          • demodocus

            That looks like a mad max version of a brinks security truck.

          • Roadstergal

            Well, the SSFPD guy in front of him got a Corvette. What was he supposed to do, take that implied insult to his penis size and just move on?

          • Medwife

            What the hell!

        • Nick Sanders

          I remember during the early days of Ferguson, there were veterans tweeting about how they had gotten less equipment to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq than those police were getting to take control of an American town.

          • Who?

            So depressing. And so much for ‘freedom’.

            It’s unlikely the police have anything like the intense training an army unit do-any wonder it all goes wrong so easily.

  • Young CC Prof

    There is a law that actually bans the CDC from doing research that might support a need for gun control, so no one is doing research on gun violence and there’s a lack of good data. Last month, another attempt to overturn it was voted down.

    This is not how you hold a policy debate! Would gun control work? Maybe. But when you refuse to even fund the question, you sure look like a denialist to me.

    • T.

      But there are other countries out here. Like what Australia did after a mass-shooting, tightening their gun control laws did cause a decrese of shootings.

      • Mattie

        And we know how people against gun-control feel about those arguments *eyeroll* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVuspKSjfgA

        • Roadstergal

          Thank you for the opportunity to re-watch that segment. 😀 Much <3 for Mr JW Oliver.

          • Mattie

            My favourite is the ‘whoop de do’ episode (part 1) that ends with lots of happy Australian people sarcastically shouting ‘whoop de do’

      • Azuran

        And lets not forget: Even a drop in suicide.

      • Megan

        But, but, but…Australia is “so different” than ‘Merica!
        (sarcasm)

  • Amy

    This video seems appropriate given the circumstances. The last two lines are the most relevant to this post:

    https://www.facebook.com/naralprochoiceamerica/videos/10153281013424321/?pnref=story

  • demodocus

    I think part of it is the notion that the brave hero will be able to take down the shooter before he gets more than a round off (without hurting anyone else). In my opinion, this is probably fantasy for the majority of humans. For heaven’s sake, how often do you hear about someone killed by being in the crossfire, an accidental, incidental victim? I was arguing with someone a few days ago about whether gun-free zones should even exist, because bad guys don’t follow rules. It’s true they don’t but this does not mean we should be arming pre-school teachers. The daily danger of small children + guns, even snapped into place on your gun belt with the safety on is a lot scarier to me than the much rarer danger of another Sandy Hook. #*(Q##%^&*()#$@.

    • Young CC Prof

      I think that particular idea is related to the reason some people feel safer driving than flying: Overestimating their own abilities. Oh, I’m a really good driver, so I’ll be safe. I’ve practiced with my gun, so if I were ever attacked, I’d be able to take out the bad guy. And of course I’d never set it off by accident.

      Unfortunately, that’s not how it tends to work out.

    • Mattie

      My argument has always been that the majority of gun crime in the US is not committed by the kinds of criminals who have easy access to black market weapons, or the funds to pay for those weapons. The only reason that regular home-owners need guns to protect themselves from ‘regular’ run of the mill, usually young, opportunistic criminals is because those ‘bad guys’ also have guns, and the only reason the bad guys have the guns is because the home-owners do. It’s a perpetuating cycle, and the only thing that will change it is gun control.

      • Cobalt

        Owning a gun dramatically increases one’s risk of getting shot, either through accidental discharges, suicide, or increased bravado. The increase in risk is even higher for women.

        • Mattie

          I’d also imagine it does nothing/very little to actually prevent or stop violent crime against you. But I’d like to see if there are any studies on that.

          • Azuran

            well, logically speaking, if you are a responsible gun owner, your gun is unloaded and locked up somewhere. So, suppose there is a home invasion or something, what are the chance that you are going to be able to get the gun? Even if you do get the gun, are you really going to shoot it? Are you really ready to kill someone? Most likely, the majority of people would freeze. And pointing a gun at an armed criminal is a good way to get yourself killed, especially if you shoot and miss.
            Supposing you see some crime happening to someone else, but you are not a part of it. Are you really going to risk your life starting a gun fight?
            For the majority of people, having a gun around makes no difference, they simply would not manage to use them properly in case of danger. So it’s basically just an accident waiting to happen.

            And seriously, absolutely no one has any legitimate reason to own an assault weapon, for god’s sake.

          • Who?

            I don’t understand in the home invasion situation why you wouldn’t get out rather than engage.

            And yes, it’s either an accident waiting to happen, or a weapon to be used against you when the bad guy takes it off you.

          • Cobalt

            There have been a few reviews of gun deaths that support the assertion that gun ownership increases the risk of accidental death and suicide by a huge margin.

            Removing the easy lethality from impulse behavior saves lives. Guns drive up suicide rates by making it too easy to quickly follow through on suicidal impulses. Many (but certainly not all, individual variables matter) suicidal people, if delayed by as little as 20 minutes, will change their minds on pursuing an immediate suicide attempt. Instant access to guns doesn’t allow that time. People that could have been helped, could have gone on to lead good lives, end up dead, leaving a shattered family behind.

        • demodocus

          like that woman who was killed at walmart when her preschooler pulled her gun out of her purse

          • Who?

            If someone had to die an unintended death at the barrel end of her gun, at least it was her. Imagine if he’d killed himself, or some passerby.

            And if he had killed someone else it would have been written off as an accident not sheeted home to her.

            Seriously if I thought I needed a gun to go safely to Walmart I’d have therapy, or move house. Maybe both.

        • Megan

          This is what scares me. I worry about sending my daughter (when she gets older) to sleepovers when I know that most families around here own guns. You just have no idea if they really lock them up, where the ammo is, etc. The thought of my kid and a friend accidentally getting a hold of a gun and hurting or killing themself or the other is terrifying to me.

          • JJ

            We tell our kids from a young age if they find a gun they do not touch it and get an adult right away.

          • Azuran

            And kids will always, 100% of the time, listen to what their parents say.

          • JJ

            I am for gun control BTW.

          • Cobalt

            That’s a good start, and often your child’s only defense against play shootings. You just can’t trust that the kids they are playing with have the same training. Or that any of them are reliable.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            One of the first things my dad taught my sister and I when we were old enough to understand the concept that the don’t touch it and get an adult and guns are always loaded. Always. Treat it like that and you won’t have an accident “playing” with it. He also emphasized the “guns are not toys” aspect very early on and they are weapons that demand respect like anything dangerous like a bear or the ocean.

            We couldn’t afford a gun case when my sister and I were kids so Dad took a different route because a lot his guns were antiques or unique pieces he couldn’t replace. He dismantled every single one and put the parts in separate corners of the house in locked cases. Ammo was also seperated. Also a good suicide deterant. It takes a while to unlock that many cases and then reassemble the gun. We have a gun safe now but I like the disassembled in different parts of the house idea. Maybe with two gun safes.

            I almost never saw any of his guns out when I was a kid. He always assembled and cleaned them out of sight and never left them unattended while doing so.

          • Cobalt

            I spent a lot of time as a kid in a family member’s house that had loaded guns frequently out, sitting in plain view on tables. The kids always knew they weren’t toys and were not to be touched, and thankfully nothing bad happened. I cringe just thinking about it, and hope my kids are never in a situation where a “don’t touch” rule is the only thing between them/their playmates and a gun.

          • Wren

            Ask. Ask to see where any guns are kept. Reinforce with your child to never play with a gun. My mom’s cousin thought she did it all right. Her daughter should be turning 40 next month but instead never got past 13 after she, her little brother and her boyfriend found her dad’s “always unloaded” gun. Turns out it was not unloaded. She was my closest cousin and I still miss her. The fact that children are still dying the same way nearly 30 years later and no one seems to want to stop it makes me so sad and angry.

          • Who?

            I’m so sorry.

            Was her dad’s carelessness a criminal offence, and if so was he punished for that?

            I don’t understand it when the decision is made to not charge someone because they have already been punished by the death of their family member. Seems to demean the death(s) and let careless gunowners off scot free.

            Meanwhile if someone had come in and shot them with the same gun that person would be punished.

          • Wren

            She was a teenager who could reach the top shelf of the closet it was kept in. No charges were filed against her father or the boyfriend who pulled the trigger. Clearly both were traumatised enough

          • Who?

            Thankyou for answering. It must have been a terrible experience and it has clearly left its mark.

            I wonder if fewer people would keep loaded guns around if they were punished by the legal system when an entirely predictible, if unintended, shooting happened.

    • ladyloki

      It’s like all those idiots who are “guarding” military recruiting offices now. Some moron accidentally discharged his weapon trying to take it off his belt. Luckily he didn’t hit anybody but still…wouldn’t that have looked great if he’d shot one of those military recruiters he was trying to protect, or someone else in that strip mall going to whatever other location?

    • Inmara

      Are gun owners in US even required to have training classes and evaluating their health before purchasing a gun? I guess in most states they’re not, so in real life situation when someone starts shootout, most of other proud gun owners would not be able to precisely shoot down the offender without accidentally harming bystanders.

      • indigosky

        Nope. At 22 my husband went into a Wal-Mart in Arkansas to buy a gun. He picked out the one he wanted, filled out the background check paperwork, paid for the gun and walked out with it that day. That’s when he started to realize something was amiss with how this country treated guns, and is now a big advocate for gun licensing. Heck, if the woman that does my mani/pedi needs training and a license, someone with a gun certainly does.

        • Mattie

          How thorough is the background check if it can be done then and there…I had to have a criminal records check for my voluntary role working with Girl Guiding and that took a couple of weeks…or do they do the paperwork and then take the gun even if something comes up on the check, meaning the check is meaningless.

    • Liz Leyden

      Then there’s mistaken identity. In January 2011, former U.S representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot during an event in a supermarket parking lot, in broad daylight. In an interview soon after the shooting, one man in attendance said he had his gun with him, saw another man with a gun, assumed the other guy must be the shooter, and prepared to fire.

  • Rita D. Lipshutz

    great piece as always!