Special Needs Kids and Guns

gvb2000-image-1I had a chance to talk on the phone with the inimitable Kathy Jackson today, and we had a terrific chat. One of the things we talked about was a problem that’s vexed me for some time: How to use a firearm for self-defense, and how to empower our children to be able to defend themselves, when our kids have developmental or mental health challenges.

As I’ve alluded to previously on the blog, my daughter “Nutmeg” was adopted from the foster care system. She had a great many things happen to her early in life that should not, in my opinion, ever happen to a child. (I’m going to leave it at that out of respect for her privacy.) But the result of those early traumas is that Nutmeg has some challenges in the areas of impulse control, judgment, and decision-making.

Obviously, those traits could be dangerous when combined with the presence of a firearm. However, they also manifest themselves in behavior choices on Nutmeg’s part that increase her risk of victimization. So, what’s a parent to do? After chatting with Kathy about the issue, here are some things I came up with:

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Mass Murder: Blame and Responses

With three mass murders in the past few weeks, the predictable froth is getting whipped up in the media and the court of public opinion about who’s to blame and what should be done about it. Predictably, some quarters are calling for renewed restrictions on firearms and associated components, despite decades of evidence that there is at best a net zero correlation between gun control laws and violent crime rate.

In a superficial sort of way this response makes sense. This murderer used a Scary Black Rifle with a beta mag, so let’s ban SBRs and beta mags. That murderer used ammo he bought online, so let’s ban ammo purchases online. This murderer used a pistol he bought at a gun show, so let’s ban sales of pistols at gun shows.

But it comes back to the divide between feeling safe and being safe: Taking a potentially dangerous item out of the hands of law-abiding citizens (who, by definition, won’t abuse that item to cause harm to others) won’t keep criminals (who, by definition, won’t abide by the laws and rules of society) from behaving like criminals. It might make us feel safer, but we won’t actually be any safer. In fact, since we’ll make it harder for people to use those tools in defense of themselves and their neighbors, we’ll actually make them less safe, even as they feel more safe.

So, who is to blame for these acts of mass violence, and what can we do about it?

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