On the way to school one morning, my third-grade daughter mentioned that a friend's father carries a gun with him wherever he goes. The friend, she said, "told us at lunch" that he has a piece of paper that allows him to carry the firearm.
I told her that piece of paper was a concealed-weapon permit. As she was getting out at the school entrance, I asked why the father would need to carry a gun at all times. "I don't know," she replied. "Love you. Bye."
Returning home, I had two thoughts. "Do more people having guns make me feel safer?" And: "Do I want my daughter going to her friend's home for a play date knowing that father is possibly wearing his gun in the home?"
I once carried a gun, actually several. They were tools of my job. As a former U. S. Army military police officer, I packed both an assault rifle and a pistol. I trained and qualified with them regularly. I know what they are capable of. Assault weapons are designed for one purpose, killing quickly.
Despite 30,000 guns deaths annually, and living in the most heavily armed nation — with 304 million people and 200 million registered weapons — the National Rifle Association remains steadfast in proclaiming that more guns make us safer.
"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun!" Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive vice president, declared in the week following the massacre of 26 elementary school children and educators in Newtown, Conn.
The preferred safety measure offered by NRA advocates would be to put armed guards in schools. That ignores the public safety that assault gun ownership threatens and turns schools into armed camps.
Last August's incident in front of the Empire State Building in New York City is instructive. Police officers — professionals trained in the use of guns against armed assailants — confronted an armed man after he had shot and killed a co-worker. A gun battle ensued just as visitors to the skyscraper were queuing up. The gunman was killed and bullet fragments wounded several bystanders. One of them has sued the city.
Gun control, which has been as much a part of our history as gun ownership, has been hijacked by gun lobbyists, most notably the NRA, and demonized as gun confiscation, which it is not.
The NRA's absolutist position, war chest of hundreds of millions of dollars, and tactics that exploit the emotions of rational gun owners and intimidate politicians have resulted in the situation we have today. So far more than 100 gun-related deaths have occurred since Dec. 14, the day of the Sandy Hook shootings.
Donna McAleer is the Democratic nominee in Utah's 1st Congressional District. She faces Rep. Rob Bishop in the November election.