Lately, there seems to be a lot of tragic news involving guns getting into the wrong hands.

  • A Terre Haute police officer was shot and killed while serving an arrest warrant (read more…)
  • A Martinsville teenager shoots his classmate at Martinsville West Middle School. (read more…)
  • In Martinsville, an 11 year-old boy shoots and kills his 6 year-old step-brother (read more…)
  • A 2 year-old boy in Connersville, Indiana died and police are investigating the circumstances (the gun was in an unlocked box next to the parent’s bed). The 5 year-old brother may have pulled the trigger. (read more…)

There are so many sad stories in the news involving violence and guns whether it take be acts of crime or tragic accidents.  In all of the cases above, tragedy could have been prevented. Would stricter gun laws save more lives? It most definitely would. In the U.S. where it’s often viewed as an individual right to own a gun, the safety of society as a whole is always at risk.

With talk about guns getting into the wrong hands, are they ever in the right hands? Practically anyone over 18 years or older can purchase a gun and there does not seem to be a strict registration process (the purchaser must go through a background check and provide proof of residency in Indiana), there is no waiting period, no tests, no training, and permits are not always required. For those people who would like to know all of the government rules on purchasing, owning, carrying or even disposing of a gun, they can check out the Indiana General Assembly chapters on guns here. But really, how many people, other than myself (a person who is merely curious about the gun laws and doesn’t plan to purchase a gun) are going to go through this choppy list of regulations? (Not an easy read).

Gun laws seem very relaxed here and they continue to become even more relaxed. Earlier this month, new gun laws went into effect which allow for gun owners to lawfully carry guns without permits in more areas. For example, it seems that one can carry a gun anywhere if it’s unloaded and securely wrapped (a somewhat vague statement). The police are concerned about the change in this law because it affects their safety, particularly when they pull over drivers (see article). Prior to this, for an individual’s personal safety, there was suggestion that people should be able to carry guns to more public areas such as sporting venues (see article). Can you imagine being in a place where games can get heated, alcohol readily available, and there are people present with the right to tote their own gun?

Remember the Michael Moore documentary, Bowling for Columbine (2002)? One scene that stands out for me is when Moore visits a Canadian border city and noticed that Canadians seem less fearful of crime in their neighbourhoods; he found that a lot of people leave their front doors unlocked. From my experience, in smaller cities and towns, it’s not that uncommon to leave your front doors unlocked while one is at home in the middle of the day. For the most part, I’ve always felt pretty safe and never really worried about people breaking into my house , much less with a gun. In fact, I have never seen a handgun until I was in my late 20’s (maybe 29?) when I went to Seattle and saw a whole gun section in Cabela’s (an outdoor store). There were whole cases and the entire back wall filled with guns ranging from tiny little granny pistols that one could carry in a small purse to AK47s. While I’ve seen rifles (which served as a practical purpose for hunting), I can honestly say that I’ve never seen a handgun in person up until that point. It was kind of a shock.

Do I feel safe in Indiana? Relatively safe. But I also feel that a little more fearful of my safety here than I do in Canada. I always lock my doors as a precaution.