2016-06-22 / Opinion

Guns: The Blame Game

Lillian Browne is editor-in-chief of The Reporter.

Lillian Browne is editor-in-chief of The Reporter.

An early morning shooting spree by a security guard at an Orlando nightclub is the stuff that anti-gun advocates dreams are made of. Quick to seize the opportunity, the obviously pre-planned mass murder was framed by mainstream media around gun accessibility and ownership rather than about the shooter’s disregard for the law or human life.

Politicizing the crime, any crime, and shifting the focus from reality - self-loathing, fear, hypocrisy and possible mental health issues - to absurdity - the need for more strengthened gun laws, ensures that similar incidents will occur in the future.

I am one of the more 15,000 Delaware County residents that lawfully, legally and respectfully own a pistol via a license. I went through a rigorous, lengthy and pricey application and background check which allowed law enforcement officials Peeping- Tom status into every aspect of my life.

I underwent a fingerprint check so police could see if I had been previously fingerprinted for a crime or other reasons. I had. In the early 1990s I worked in early childhood education and in the late 1990s went to work for the government - both positions required a fingerprint and background check.

One facet of the application was to disclose my profession and why I wanted to carry a pistol. I filled in the profession box “Farmer and Writer.” I imagine that was the first time that the investigator had encountered that answer because when he called me three months after I submitted my application, his voice was filled with incredulity and the type of swallowed laughter that causes one’s voice to rise an octave when he asked me to confirm what I did for a living.

He then asked me to confirm why I wanted to carry a pistol. I truthfully answered the question - “For all legal purposes.” That included a multitude of protective reasons - to protect my property and person were high on that list.

“For all legal purposes” was also significant in that it demonstrated (at least in my mind) my intent. It was a statement of my commitment to follow the laws of the state and the nation, whether I agreed with them or not.

New York has some of the most stringent and absurd firearm laws in the nation, which almost prohibit owning guns or ammunition. However, I agree to abide by those laws as well as laws that are meant to prohibit people from harming or killing others whether by use of a gun or other means.

The Orlando shooter, Omar Mateen, legally purchased a pistol and a rifle in the weeks before the mass killing. The difference between me and Mateen is that he was on an FBI watch list AND he chose not to abide by the law.

Laws do not prohibit criminals from committing crimes. It’s time we started holding individuals responsible for their actions rather than punishing the millions of law-abiding citizens in this country.

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