TTAG reader Elaine D. writes:
I am a woman, a racial minority, a liberal, and a gun owner. I am deeply saddened by the events of the last several days, the innocent people being targeted by a hateful person who owned guns. Hate of that type is not a temporary emotion, but a reflection of deeply pathological character and temperament issues that are unlikely to be fixable.
I actually don’t know any liberals who are against guns for self defense. When I ask my fellow liberals, “Do you believe someone like me, a woman of color who endures harassment, should have the right to own firearms to protect myself?” I have never gotten any answer other than YES, even from my most hard left friends.
If targeted people choose to own firearms to protect themselves from random acts of hate and harassment, they are all about it. Targeted people can be of any color or any orientation. The key here is that such people would choose to own firearms primarily as self defense and would not use them to actively take from others.
I do know many liberals who are against guns in the hands of people who beat women, people who molest kids, people who post hate speech and racist rants online, people who are mentally unstable and lack empathy and are prone to paranoid beliefs about others being out to get them. I am also one of those people.
I work in mental health. There are people who should not have guns because their only reason for owning them is to stalk, harass, hurt, exploit and kill others. That is just an ugly truth about humanity and that is not going to change. Many people who hurt others with guns have a history of the type of actions I listed above.
Unfortunately there is not yet a way to write gun policy to screen out such people without also impacting people who are innocent, since not all those who harm others advertise their deviant way of thinking before purchasing guns. Or they do, but then claim that it’s simply their exercise of free speech when it’s actually a published plan for how they intend to harm others. Therein lies the heart of the problem.
I am sure that I will be accused of wanting to take away everyone’s innate rights by making the above statement. However, rights also come with responsibilities in every area of life. Abuse a freedom and it can get taken away: that’s how society works. And what I know as a mental health worker is that there are people who cannot be fixed and that no amount of attempting to explain why they are the way they are, no amount of therapy or treatment, is going to change their aggressive, narcissistic, violent tendencies.
That is reality. That is the ugly side of human nature that has always been there since the beginning, that we are always dealing with, that we will always be dealing with. It is not going to go away.
We need to defend ourselves against such people, which is why I am a gun owner. I am not sure what the answer is as far as making sure that people who take pleasure in harming others can’t get a gun into their hands. There are so many guns in the US at this point that it’s not like a person has to take a legal channel to obtain one.
Those of us who do obtain our guns legally (and concealed carry permit holders in particular) are the least likely to harm others anyway, based on the research I’ve seen. What I think needs to happen is that sane, legally owning, mentally stable gun owners on all sides of the political spectrum need to come together, put aside their differences and really ask, “Is there anything WE can do to address this issue to prevent rights for everyone being eroded?” Being factionalized and abrasive toward one another is not going to help. Being active in working to find creative solutions will.
I recently stopped someone dear to me in the middle of a rant about liberals and how ‘someone needs to get rid of such and such person.’ I pointed out to him that suggesting that someone needs to be physically eliminated simply because they vote differently than you, when they have done you no harm personally, is only a few hairs away from a terroristic threat in the eyes of the law and is a questionable stance in terms of attitude in a country that is supposed to be based on allowing people who are different to live together and challenge one another.
I pointed out to him that in all of our spirited arguments about politics (and we’ve had many), I have never suggested that any Republican be “gotten rid of.” Because, at the end of the day, I might not like someone’s policies, or think they should be in the job they’re in, but this doesn’t mean I think they should be eliminated from the face of the planet.
The thing is, I know my friend doesn’t actually want to harm anyone. He’s a good man. He’s just fallen into the unfortunate habit that so many have of giving in to exaggeration and unnecessarily stoking fires that are already hot enough without further poking. It’s his right, but I’d prefer he not do that around me, especially since I’m a liberal and I know he cares about me deeply. We talked through it and our friendship is fine, which believe it or not, is actually an option that people can take.
I know that such language is close to being considered a terroristic threat because of a stalking case I worked on where the FBI got involved. The person making those statements again and again toward my client was not affiliated with any political party. He was just a nutjob with an extremely toxic and hostile personality and view of the world who had a strong yen for trying to harm people who had done better than he had in life.
That person absolutely should not own a gun. I said it then and I will continue to say it: There are people who should not own guns because all they will do with a gun is hurt others. I know this to be true, and it has nothing to do with how you vote.
My heart goes out to the victims of all of the hate crimes that plague our nation.