Editor’s Note: The following is a guest editorial written by Ithaca Voice Reporter Jolene Almendarez.
As always, we encourage alternative or dissenting viewpoints. To submit a column, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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ITHACA, N.Y. — A 20-month waiting period for a pistol permit in Tompkins County is too long to wait for a gun and doesn’t keep anybody safer. That’s how long it will take me — a person with no criminal history and no mental illnesses — to get a permit.
I probably come to the table with a perspective different than most New Yorkers.
I’m a Texas girl from a primarily conservative family who considers going to a gun range and grabbing lunch a wonderfully spent Saturday with my relatives.
I don’t think my background, however, changes the fact that the county’s attempt at gun control is just a needless roadblock to otherwise safe gun ownership.
The process of getting a permit is not as easy as most of my liberal friends seem to think.
I have to know four people in Tompkins County for at least a year and could wait as long as eight months to have my permit approved, according to the sheriff’s office. There are no exemptions for new county residents.
At the risk of alienating myself from a mostly liberal community, I have to say that the waiting period is ridiculous but it’s difficult to discuss why.
I can’t say the words “gun control” without instigating a fervor in people similar to what happens when issues such as abortion, climate change and gay rights arise. Too often, there are not discussions about these kinds of topics — just polarizing arguments.
At the end of June, nearly every major national news organization wrote stories strictly from a study conducted by the Violence Policy Center, an organization advocating for stricter gun control laws. The study claims to show that guns are rarely used for self defense and, more often than not, used for homicides and suicides.
It reported that for every justifiable homicide (meaning a person stopped a felon from committing a crime during the commission of a felony) in this country in 2012, there were 34 criminal homicides, 78 gun suicides, and two accidental gun deaths. Of the 258 justifiable homicides, more than half of the people killed were strangers to the shooter, the report says.
Those statistics can seem startling, but how often does The New York Times or the Washington Post write stories strictly from data released by the National Rifle Association? (I’d venture to guess never or nearly never.).
In response to the study, the NRA released points in opposition — citing that while the number of handgun owners in the county has increased steadily over the last 20 years, crime across the country is at a 43-year-low.
The organization also questions the acquisition of data by the policy center, saying that the information used is incomplete and does not account for a variety of factors, such as the outcome of court cases involving deadly shootings and how many people were shot — not killed — in acts of self-defense.
I don’t think any of these groups’ arguments are comprehensive. The truth lies somewhere in the middle of both of these perspectives — a concept I think is hard for most people to thoughtfully consider.
The complexity of the issue is addressed in a New York Times opinion piece written by Op-Ed columnist Ross Douthat who discussed the multifaceted hypocrisy of pro-gun control liberals and pro-gun rights conservatives. As neither a liberal nor a conservative, I can see the limits to both sides and think they’re both oversimplifying matters.
What I can say is that I was taught how to shoot a .45 by my dad, who served in the Army for over 25 years, and I’m a pretty good shot. I can say that I love going to the gun range to keep myself from getting rusty and because it’s fun.
What I can say about myself is that I’ve been a vegetarian for over 11 years for moral reasons. I don’t kill spiders in my house, but opt to trap them and take them into my garden. I feel bad for swatting at mosquitos.
I can say that I plan to keep my pistol locked and I don’t anticipate having children in my home to access the lockbox.
I don’t know if I would ever have the nerve to shoot and possibly kill a person who breaks into my home. But I know that I want and deserve to have the choice.