MISS KNOW IT ALL: Safety isn't found in a holster

Lauren Chapman is a junior journalism major and writes the column “Miss Know It All” for the Daily News. Her views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Lauren at lechapman@bsu.edu.

Unlike most everyday objects, guns are specifically designed to harm. A hammer is intended to beat a nail. A kitchen knife is designed to chop up food.
But, guns are intended to hurt.

Also unlike your hammer or kitchen knife, the ownership of a gun is your protected right as an American citizen.

I am advocating that we destroy the notion that having a gun automatically makes you safer.

Guns generally make bad situations worse. Gun-related accidents are higher in areas with more guns. There are significant figures from the Department of Justice and FBI Statistics showing that areas with more guns have lower gun crime rates. That makes sense. If you’re someone who is in the business of robbing a liquor store, the store whose owner has a shotgun isn’t the one you’re going after.

When a criminal is carrying a gun “in robberies and assaults, victims are far more likely to die when the perpetrator is armed with a gun than when he or she has another weapon or is unarmed,” according to a National Criminal Justice Reference Service study.

Gun-related accidents are higher in areas with more guns.

And when guns take part in domestic violence, homicide for women is increased by 500 percent, according to the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence.
The presence of a gun sends a very clear message in a physical conflict: I’m willing to use this.

Guns as deterrence, specifically in neighborhoods with high crime rates and low gun ownership, means that someone has to use that weapon in order for deterrence to be effective. That’s not making your home or your neighborhood safer, that’s escalating an already poor situation.

So what do you do if someone is breaking into your home? You call the police. If the person trying to steal your belongings ends up dead on your front lawn, you don’t have any responsibility for their demise, legally or ethically.

Often, the conversation on guns as a means of home protection seems to settle on the fact that there is no other alternative for protecting your home. Conversations on conceal and carry permits seem to live in a world where there is no other alternative to pulling out a weapon.

You have a smart phone? There are several different smartphone apps that can call the police and use your GPS to send a text message to a family member. On Google Play, “ICE: In Case of Emergency” will have a button on your lock screen to send alerts out. For iPhones, “My Help Alert” works. Most people charge their phones next to their night stands. A phone is a pretty effective weapon by itself.

There is no reason to be in a situation that calls for two people to look at one another and think that the other won’t back off.

I recognize that many gun owners are responsible and educated with their weapon, although I do not own one myself.

Before buying a gun, most buyers look for a lot of features. Guns are like buying a car. You know what it’s going to do, but there are certain features that you want. You have to educate yourself on the gun.

Programs encouraging individuals to immediately go out and buy a gun don’t really make that important step of education available. When purchasing a gun becomes a knee-jerk reaction, you’re setting yourself up for potential danger.

The Center for Disease Control reported 73,505 Americans found themselves in the emergency room in 2010 because of non-fatal gunshot wounds.

Suddenly, you’ve put a deadly weapon in the hands of someone who doesn’t necessarily know how to use it. Education is important for all gun owners. Without it, you’re like a kid with a firecracker. It’s not responsible, and it’s certainly not making you safer.

That’s not safety; that’s playing chicken.