Gunfight at the OK Corral Middle School

Gary Kroeger on what might happen after Iowa enacts the “Stand Your Ground” gun law. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Americans own 300 million firearms. 35 percent of our private residences own at least one gun. According to a survey conducted by the Archive of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 40 percent of the children in these homes know where the guns are stored and 20 percent have handled the guns without adult supervision or even knowledge of the handling.

Emory University conducted a study that determined that the likelihood of a murder occurring in homes that have guns nearly triples. 77 percent of those killed in their homes were murdered by someone they knew with no signs of forced entry, whereas, strangers account for less than 4 percent of the murders.

An estimated 41 percent of gun-related homicides and 94 percent of gun-related suicides would not occur under the same circumstances had no guns been present.

Higher household gun ownership correlates with higher rates of homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings.

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Sobering statistics. As Iowa stands to pass Stand Your Ground legislation in addition to already having lax gun laws allowing open and conceal carry, let’s consider a consequence to this Old Western Frontier approach to law and order.

Let’s consider it by imagining a Fall afternoon and we are among several parents waiting for our children outside of the elementary school. The school is locked, as it has been for several years, so that people can’t go in, unaccounted for. It’s been a logical safety measure since Columbine, but as often happens, someone sneaks in when the door opens for one reason or another.

Now, let’s say, I didn’t recognize this person and the long coat they are wearing arouses my suspicions. I grab the door just before it closes and see myself into the entryway.

I follow the “strange person” down the hallway as he approaches a child at his locker. He reaches into his coat and starts to pull something out—-it fits into the palm of his hand—it’s black and metallic!

I don’t waste a second—that child’s life is in danger—I pull my revolver from my own coat and fire at the assailant before he can get off a round!

A teacher, armed, of course, in our gun proliferating society, sees me shoot the man, but the teacher knows him but doesn’t know me. She returns fire. The “strange man” was a substitute teacher who was reaching into his coat to return a cellphone, that had been confiscated, to the boy.

A few eyes are rolling at my dramatic hypothetical and some of you will dismiss it as so much hyperbole that would never become epidemic, but the truth is, I could have written hundreds of different scenarios, one of which will eventually occur where the presence of deadly force is less restricted than the reach of justice. Just as Stand Your Ground law in Florida opened the door for a man to be killed after talking in a theater and another for playing loud music at a gas station. The possibility of misunderstandings leading to tragedies become exponential.

Civilians are not trained as police, detectives, or as soldiers, to contain violence or to preserve or investigate crime scenes. If we use the statistic showing that homicide in the home increases with gun ownership by a factor of 3, there is no reason to assume that assaults outside the home wouldn’t increase similarly in a vigilante America.

At schools, at banks, movie theaters and shopping malls, the result would be fewer answers and many more unnecessary deaths.

Nevermind that the reality of vigilantism will crowd our courts and prisons as anyone who kills, innocently or not, in self-defense or upholding “Stand Your Ground” laws, must be prosecuted in a society predicated on justice.

As we consider where to go next with regard to guns in Iowa (and America), let’s use logic procured from rationality and research and allow for reason to reveal the evidence we’re looking for. That approach should be a benefit to all sides.

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