On January 7, Baltimore Sun deputy editorial page editor Tricia Bishop penned a column in which she explained that licensed gun owners scare her more than gun-toting criminals.
Her central justification for this position is that she lives in a part of Baltimore where she can’t be reached by the poor blacks who are shooting one another in other parts of town, but she occasionally hears stories about law-abiding citizens who wear guns on their hips for self-defense while they are in their own yards. The justification is not congruent, but it’s the one Bishop provided.
Bishop approached this quagmire by describing the trepidation she feels when driving through Georgia to see her parents. During the drive, she passed “billboards… along I-81 boasting guns for sale,” and once she arrived, her brother-in-law, “who lives in Florida, told of a neighbor stopping by to shoot the breeze in his suburban driveway, a handgun holstered at the man’s waist as their kids played nearby.”
I’m less afraid of the criminals wielding guns in Baltimore, I declared as we discussed the issue, than I am by those permitted gun owners. I know how to stay out of the line of Baltimore’s illegal gunfire; I have the luxury of being white and middle class in a largely segregated city that reserves most of its shootings for poor, black neighborhoods overtaken by “the game.” The closest I typically get to the action is feeling the chest-thumping vibrations of the Foxtrot police helicopter flying overhead in pursuit of someone who might be a few streets over, but might as well be a world away. But I don’t know where the legal gun owners are or how to ensure that their children, no matter how well versed in respecting firearms, won’t one day introduce that weapon to my daughter.
So, Bishop is asking Obama to take executive action to create a public registry of gun owners so she can check to see if the parents of her daughter’s friends own guns.
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