Iowa's "Toddler Militia Bill" is a chance to build bridges across pro/anti gun cultures

The Iowa House approved House File 2281 on February 23 by 62 votes to 36. All 57 Republicans voted yes, joined by Democratic State Representatives David Dawson, Rick Olson, Jim Lykam, Mary Wolfe, and Patti Ruff. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Yesterday, the WaPo posted an op-ed opposing a bill in the Iowa legislature that makes it legal for kids under 18 to use a handgun under direct parent supervision. The bill is being lambased as a "toddler militia" bill that would let 1 and 2 and 3 year olds use guns.

I'm a parent very much concerned about gun violence in the US. One of my top reasons for supporting Hillary Clinton is her outstanding record on common sense gun control. However, I don't oppose this bill, and in fact, I think it offers an opportunity for folks on both sides of the gun issue to come together.

This bill was written to serve families for whom shooting is a sport, and is part of their family life/culture. The purpose is to allow kids to safely use guns under supervision so that they can participate in sporting activities legally. The people it is intended to serve are the kinds of people who would teach their children to use guns safely and properly respect the power of a gun. These folks are our neighbors, friends, and partners (my husband grew up hunting quail in Oklahoma).

This is not a law written to militarize preschool.

If a parent is going to hand their toddler a gun, making it legal for the child to hold it isn't going to change that. If a gun is lying around, the legal status of a child finding it and using is not going to be altered by this law. Passing this law doesn't solve a gun violence problem; it simply creates a legal context for families to to participate in a meaningful activity together. Basically, what this law does is trust that adults will be adults: storing guns safely, using guns safely, and teaching gun safety to their kids when they decide the kids are ready for that responsibility.

Certainly, you could argue that more conditions could be set for the safe use of guns underage. Maybe people could agree that 5 or 8 is too young. Maybe the location of use could be limited, e.g. ranges or supervised sport events. There could be room for compromise here. But flatly opposing the bill in an hysterical and, in my opinion, misrepresentative way, only fans the flames of opposition between two groups who badly need to find common ground. If we, as people profoundly concerned about gun violence, can recognize, acknowledge, and even support the safe use of firearms within the context of hunting/sporting culture, and acknowledge that hey -- the adults who would do that aren't insane nutjobs who want to hand their diapered babies Curious George Uzis -- we might be able to do something as crazy as make friends with them. We might be able to find a little room to agree and cultivate goodwill. And if we are going to have true, meaningful change that will make a difference in gun violence in this country, we need all the friends we can get.

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    Baloney. This bill won't build any bridges between pro/anti-gun cultures. That is simply wishful thinking, and I don't think that NRA members are that concerned about goodwill between their lobby and anti-gun activists. It is a law designed to get handguns in the hands of younger people. And we will see more gun accidents because of it.

    My father would take me on pheasant hunting trips with him when I was a girl. So I am no stranger to the family ritual of hunting. But this bill is just looney tunes.

    Last week, the gun control advocacy group Violence Policy Center released a report that found the firearms industry is advertising to children as young as grade-school age "for financial and political gain."

    "As household gun ownership has steadily declined and the primary gun market of white males continues to age, the firearms industry has set its sights on America’s children," the report states. "Much like the tobacco industry’s search for replacement smokers, the gun industry is seeking replacement shooters."

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