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home : opinion : news views May 24, 2016

2/8/2013 11:50:00 PM
Misconceptions About Guns
Gary Gerard
Times-Union General Manager

Our Congressman, Marlin Stutzman, must have a fair amount of intestinal fortitude.
Earlier this week, he introduced legislation that would guarantee individuals who legally carry a concealed weapon in their home state may also carry in any other state that allows concealed carry.
He has put himself out there front and center as one of the rest of us crazy, right-wing, gun-nut zealots.
Good for him.
It’s funny how some lawmakers are up in arms about things like this. (Pun fully intended.) They profess to respect the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. And they profess to respect the right of citizens to defend themselves – as long as nobody is allowed to carry a gun, that is.
I remember one time when there was a federal concealed carry proposal. People were going crazy, saying that there would be shootouts all over the country at bars, banks and sporting events.
We in Indiana know that’s kind of silly because there’s been a concealed carry law here for decades and no such things happen. That’s because anyone who actually goes through the process of getting a personal protection permit – as it’s called here – is a law-abiding citizen.
A person carrying a gun without a permit is likely a criminal and would probably be carrying a gun regardless of what the law says.
See, that’s the thing about gun laws. The people who obey them are law-abiding citizens. Criminals ignore them. Always have. Always will.
If you knock off liquor stores for a living, the last thing you’re concerned about is a gun violation.
But if you’re a law-abiding citizen, you don’t want any trouble with the law – ever. You obey the laws. It’s a simple concept.
Roughly 400,000 people in Indiana have personal protection permits. That’s about 5 percent of the population.
Those people –  and lots of others, I would guess – understand what our Congressman is trying to accomplish. But lots of people won’t get it and our Congressman is probably going to get no small amount of grief over his legislative proposal.
There is a lot of misunderstanding when it comes to guns in this country. It’s odd, because guns have pretty much always been around. Even so, some people have an irrational fear of guns.
I remember one time years ago I brought a gun to work – no ammo, just a gun – to show to a co-worker. It was in a snapped shut plastic box sitting on my desk.
Another co-worker saw the box and asked what was in it. I said, “A .45.”
The conversation went downhill from there.
“You mean a gun!?”
“Well, get that thing out of here! It might go off and kill somebody!”
I was able to convince this person that everything would be OK, that the gun wouldn’t “go off” while lying in a box on my desk. But what is it, precisely, that leads someone to that level of anxiety and misinformation with regard to guns?
It’s like that thing you read when people accidentally shoot themselves.
It goes like this:
“He was cleaning his gun when it went off.”
This perpetuates the notion that guns “go off” on their own. Now, there is such a thing as an accidental discharge. It’s when you fire a gun when you didn’t intend to.
But that is not the same as a gun “going off.” Guns never “go off.” The only way a gun can fire is if there is a live round placed in the chamber and the hammer or firing pin falls on it.
It is impossible for modern handguns to “go off” unless someone puts a live round in the chamber, disengages the safety and pulls the trigger.
There are some vintage firearms, I suppose, that could “go off” if they were dropped precisely on the hammer on a hard surface with a live round in the chamber, but even that would be extremely rare.
When you read about guns “going off” while they are being cleaned you can rest assured that’s not what happened. Who cleans a gun with a live round in the firing chamber? The first step in gun cleaning is to unload it.
Most likely, the gun wasn’t being cleaned at all. The owner was careless and unwittingly pulled the trigger or dropped the hammer on a live round in the chamber.
“I was cleaning it and it went off,” is just easier to say to the cop at the emergency room.
It’s this kind of thing that perpetuates all manner of irrationality with regard to guns.
The irrationality is becoming really evident in schools, where kids are being suspended for absurd “gun violations.”
While waiting for the bus, a 5-year-old kindergartener in Pennsylvania spoke of shooting another student with her pink Hello Kitty Bubble Gun, which she didn’t even have with her.
School officials accused the tyke of making a “terroristic threat.” She was characterized as a “threat to harm others.” She was questioned the following day for 30 minutes without a parent present. According to her mom, the girl was told she could go to jail for making such a threat.
She was suspended for two days and the incident will remain on her permanent record, despite the fact that the school psychologist’s evaluation of the girl labeled her “normal.”
In Florence, Ariz., a boy was suspended for having a gun screen saver on his computer.
Other school freakouts, including suspensions and even lockdowns, include:
• A transparent toy gun in South Carolina.
• A gun built from Lego® bricks in Massachusetts.
• Two kids talking about a Nerf® gun in New York.
• An actual Nerf® gun in New York.
• A paper gun in  Pennsylvania.
• Pointing a finger and saying “pow” in Maryland.
• Playing cops and robbers with fingers in Maryland.
• Making a gun “hand gesture” in Oklahoma.
How did we get to this level of hysteria?
I certainly hope lawmakers don’t craft gun legislation with the mindset of these school administrators.
None of this is to say that guns aren’t dangerous if mishandled. They are.
But if you ever have to handle a gun – loaded or unloaded –  don’t be afraid.
Just always – ALWAYS – follow these two simple rules and I assure you everything will be just fine.
1. Never place your finger in the trigger guard of a gun unless you intend to fire it.
2. Never point a gun at something you don’t intend to shoot.

Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: Dan Silver Lake

I could not have said this better. You have common sense and most do not have that anymore in the late great U.S.A. and it saddens me. People today could not even carry a conversation with someone of 100 years ago mentally. This is called the dumbing down of America and it is so evident. You have people like Piers Morgan that spew lies and misinform the public for his own agenda. The facts are the facts and that is violent crime has gone down 50+ % over a 20 year period here in the U.S.A. per the F.B.I. and that cannot be debated. Liberals always have and always will lie and twist the facts to meet their personal agenda. I call them Communists to be politically correct. My neighbor hates guns and i told her that i respect her opinion and i promise not to use my guns to protect her if the need arises because i do not want to offend her beliefs. I love telling that to anti-gun people. I am thinking of getting a sign that says my neighbors are anti-gun and unarmed and that criminals have no worries about me helping the neighbor. Great write up Gary you sir are a real journalist.

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