Why Guns Make Me Feel Less Safe

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For the second time in about a month I found myself outside of a small convenience store as a young man strapped with a large handgun strolled past strutting like a male baboon. My first reaction was to wonder if he (like the other man) were all there and not, I can relax now, there’s someone with a gun here! Although I didn’t speak to either of these young men, to my eye they shared several things in common (besides the gun).  Both were clearly not athletic, a little overweight, and not exactly the president of their high school debate teams. They had half-crazed looks in their eyes that seemed to dare me or anyone else to try and start something. Although I am six feet, I can’t imagine that my iced-tea and bag of organic popcorn were really that threatening.

I had a similar experience years before while visiting a gun show where participants favored strapping on their death weapon of choice (many AR-15s) while making out their Christmas lists. I’m no psychologist, but I am a student of human behavior, and my assessment of these young men is that they get an ego stroke from the power of their weapon. They more than likely suffered from hidden lives of insecurity in high school and took the shortest route possible to empowerment, or at least a feeling of empowerment.  My guess is that the result of this lack of attention left them with a chip on their shoulder and a need to prove themselves as “real men.” In other words, exactly the kind of person we don’t want walking around with a gun strapped to their hip. Clearly as a culture we have much to face if we are going to get a sense of positive community back for our children; for my money, strapping on a .44 magnum and playing Dirty Harry isn’t the place to start.

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