CityBeat’s Living Out Loud – Cincinnati Blog

{April 25, 2007}   The Right to Bear Arms


“To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.”
(Richard Henry Lee, Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, initiator of the Declaration of Independence, and member of the first Senate which passed the Bill of Rights.)

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” (Second Amendment to the Constitution.)

The great object is that every man be armed… Everyone who is able may have a gun.” (Patrick Henry, in the Virginia Convention on the ratification of the Constitution.)

My first exposure to guns was when I was about ten years old. My father would take us to trap shoots; but back then we called them turkey shoots. No, they didn’t shoot turkeys, only clay pigeons. A fresh or frozen turkey was the prize.

I was proud of my father, because he excelled in this sport.

At the same time I was attending the target shooting events with my father, I became aware of the Vietnam War. I now saw televised, in graphic detail, that guns can kill. I was adamantly opposed to the war, but at that age had little recourse to appreciable protest.

Then I became of age and got married in 1977. My future ex-husband was (and is) an avid hand gun collector. He had 9mm’s, semi-automatics, and others, some of them illegal.

When my son was about four years old, my husband left Luke in the car while he ran into a convenience store. Luke found the loaded Walther underneath the car seat and pulled the trigger. Fortunately, the gun was aimed toward the back of the car, so the bullet went through the trunk. Fortuitous also, there was no person in the line of fire behind the car.

But still, despite this event and my protests, my husband continued to leave his loaded pistols on coffee tables, end tables, and bedside stands.

This cemented my hatred of guns and, of course, of my ex-husband.

In January, 2003, I was certainly old enough, and I got in a bus headed to Washington, DC to protest the impending war in Iraq. It didn’t do much good, but at least now I could voice my opposition to war.

In August, 2006, my son Luke, who hadn’t shot or held a gun since age four, was able to steal his landlord’s gun and he used it to kill himself with a single shot to the head. So unfamiliar was he with guns, that he used his left hand to aim and pull the trigger, even though he was right handed.

Columbine, VTech, and all the killings each day here in Cincinnati; why do we continue to defend the right to bear arms? What would we lose, besides a huge daily death count, if we ban guns?

Do we either outlaw guns 100% or fully arm each and every citizen? Would the total armament of US citizens be a deterrent to gun crime? You know, a return to marshall law and the wild, wild west.

Something needs to be done. What we are doing is clearly not working.


(Photo from Google)


Jim Stanton says:

Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.

Celina says:

vir3;a&#82g0rSoary for the huge review, but I’m really loving the new Zune, and hope this, as well as the excellent reviews some other people have written, will help you decide if it’s the right choice for you….

Sharon says:

I don’t think anything good has ever come out of having a gun. Police should have them at that’s it. They should be outlawed.

Karen says:

A wonderful post Marilyn and I couldn’t agree with you more.

Harvey says:

I agree with Sharon. Cops should have guns to protect us but there are too many nuts out there who can get a hold of guns. Outlaw them.

Jackie says:

Well said, Marilyn 🙂

citybeat says:

Great post Marilyn. I would say outlaw them all (look at England’s crime rate), but, sadly, that doesn’t seem to be practical. The second amendment is as primitive and archaic as the death penalty.

– mike

misplaced says:

I think that guns should be outlawed- especially when looking at crime rates in European countries where they are outlawed- but I do believe that it is people who kill people. The shame of it is, people believe we are under seige- fear is marketed to us just like dish soap. The media and politians need to stop exploiting fear- and people need to stop believing all the shit that is thrown their way.

Tom says:

I had no idea how your son died. I am so, so sorry. I always love your posts. You are a wonderful person.

Our forefathers had, and I share, a deep mistrust of the government. A state where only the state has guns is exactly what they were trying to prevent.

I’ve been around lots of guns and I know how to use them. I don’t like them, and I don’t want one. But the thought of living in a country where only the cops have guns is a VERY scary thought.

In Tijuana, Mexico, they recently confiscated all the guns from the police and gave them sling slots with marbles. Violent crimes WENT DOWN 60%!

If you want to take guns from everyone, take them from the hot-headed control-freaks with badges FIRST!


Your son’s inexperience with guns doesn’t explain why (or how) he would use his left hand to shoot a gun. I’m semi-ambidextrious, and it would be incredibly difficult for me to shoot a gun with my left hand. Did they give you a reason why he would do that? You don’t have to answer any of this, I’m not trying to pry. That’s just surprizing to learn.

C.A. Mac says:

Powerful post, powerful writing here. I have to say that I’m glad I didn’t get a hold of one in some of my most depressed times, which there have been many. Years ago, I was living with my friend whose husband had a gun collection. The only reason I was saved was because my parents showed up just in time. I was lucky, very lucky. I’m so sorry about your son. Thats why I run around talking about depression and such, hoping it’ll help those silently suffering. Thanks for sharing. You are brave.


Marilyn–I’m very sorry about your son.

And, your ex-husband was clearly an irresponsible jerk.

I’ve had bad experiences with guns–my mother’s best friend shot herself in the head when i was in 6th grade. my grandfather blew his head off with a 12-gauge shot gun when i was 20 years old. my father found him. my highschool best friend shot himself in the head when we were 22. my own irresponsible jerk of an ex-husband threatened my life with a gun when i was 24.

and despite all this, i’m still not anti-gun.

i agree with heather ann 100%. i do not want to live in a country where the citizens are unarmed, and so therefore are at the total mercy of their gov’t.

and banning them totally will not work, either–criminals will always find ways to hurt people. yes, britain’s rate of shootings is way down, but its rate of stabbings is way up. and people who want to hurt themselves will find ways as well. look at all the prisoners who have had everything taken away from them but their bed sheets and hang themselves with those.

evil will find a way to perpetrate itself. and when you start banning one “dangerous” thing, where does it end? in 20 years we’d all be eating oatmeal with our fingers walking around wearing helmets and full body pads and be strapped into everything we ever sat on, including our desk chairs. no thanks.

Gus_J says:

I often find myself on the fence with this issue. I absolutely hate guns, I hate the misuse of them even more. What we really have to deal with is murderous intentions. Someone with murderous intentions is not going to be stopped by laws. Murder is illegal and they’re willing to break that law. If handguns were illegal, criminals would still obtain them from the black market. Illegal guns would still flow over our southern border. I am absolutely on par with Heather, the state being the only legal gun possessor is a scary scenario. Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of good police officers, but there are scores of them that you don’t want possessing unchecked authority. When I was in NY last fall, there was a big controversy over a 23 year old man (on his wedding day) and a bystander who were cut down in a hail of over 50 bullets. 3 of the 5 officers were indicted. This is not isolated, there are reports of people getting shot in the back by the police all the time. Imagine now if the incentive to possess firearms was that you had to carry a badge too. This would ensure a bully police force.

Better handgun laws are the answer. New Zealand is second only to the UK in the lowest handgun homicide rate, and handguns are legal there. The laws are more stringent. What is absent in New Zealand that makes the not only handgun homicide lower, but all homicide lower is draconian laws, and a corrupt legal system.

Any gun owner that allows through their negligence a minor to fire a round unsupervised should have their right to any gun ownership revoked. They should also be jailed for a short time, and child protective services should investigate the parents with scrutiny. Marilyn, I’m sure you’re a fantastic parent, but your ex should have been locked up if the weapon your 4 year old discharged was his, because he clearly wasn’t a good father and someone could have died due to his negligence.

As far as the VT and Columbine atrocities go, I am reluctant to even address this right now. The VT thing hit close to home, I’m from that area. I’m going to say it anyway though. If the terrorists that do these things don’t have access to guns, with more planning, they would use explosives, poisonous gas, biological agents, etc. The real question is in a post 911 era as we are constantly reminded this is, why aren’t there gun and explosive detectors in use in larger campus buildings at universities like VT? That in combination with an armed guard and possibly an airlock foyer device would have thwarted this terrible situation. VT certainly has the funds. A university library that I frequent has gun detectors and an armed guard at the front door. Imagine if this was carried out by a terrorist cell consisting of 3 men with automatic weapons. Not just one asshole with 2 semi-autos. Aren’t we supposed to be securing high profile targets, like places parents send thousands of their beloved children?

C.A. I love ya you know that. I have to say that the reason you didn’t kill yourself had more to do with you than your folks. You are strong. You’ve had plenty of low points, if you really wanted to do that, you wouldn’t have needed a gun.

As always, treat the affliction not the symptoms.

Freda says:

Whenever I read one of your post, I feel like I’m reading something from a friend. I mean that.

I’m so sorry about your son.

Gregory Flannery says:

On a visceral level, I like the argument that we need the Second Amendment to protect us from guvment, especially abusive cops. But in practice, assassinations are very rare in this country; private citizens mostly use guns to kill each other, not their oppressors. As a pacifist, I abhor political violence, so I have no personal use for the Second Amendment; I’ll never own a gun. However, I don’t think repeal is wise until and unless we disarm the cops and the state itself.

Kris says:

So much bullshit here today. Owning a gun is my right. I have a right to protect myself.

Marilyn says:

Thanks to everyone for thoughtful comments.

Kris, you will note that I only raised valid questions. There is no bullshit here today, but simply a discussion.

Heather, the stinking little details you learn later… We have no idea why he used his left hand, only that he did. Some details are better left unlearned.

CA, I read all your writings on mental illness and your efforts to get better access to health care for all. I admire you tremendously.

Jim, my favorite line from King of the Hill was from Dale Gribble: “Guns don’t kill people, the government does.” 🙂

I wish I had answers, I only have questions…

Justin says:

Marilyn, you’re one of the main reasons I keep coming back here. Simply a great, well written article.

hard as nails says:

kris wants to protect himself. who is going to protect us from kris?

Gus_J says:

Kris is likely to get shot with his own gun.

Vickie says:

Yeah, people like Kris make me nervous.

Jacob says:

The first comment here hits the nail right on the head. Guns don’t kill people, people do. You bleeding heart liberals don’t have any idea what the real world is.

Gus_J says:

Technically it’s the bullets Jacob. Tell me of the real world, please.

Jacob says:

What’s the point? You liberals wouldn’t get it.

I follow the rules of the law. Some people don’t. I have a right to carry arms to protect myself from these kind of people.

Gus_J says:

“What’s the point? You liberals wouldn’t get it.”

Or you couldn’t explain it is more likely the case. We’re not all liberals by the way.

You have the privilege to carry a firearm, not a right. You have a right not to get shot. Look into the rulings of the Supreme Court in second amendment cases. Most of us want better laws, not prohibition. I don’t want it to be easy for unstable people to assume gun ownership. If your “real world” doesn’t get that we should give you your own state and wall it off. Maybe Wyoming

misplaced says:

Are you giving him the State of Wyoming or the neighborhood? I just need to know if i should move my car.

Karen @ the hood says:

Guns is a way of life here in Over-the-Rhine and they scare me. I would feel much safer if they were outlawed. says:

Bleeding heart assholes.

Matt says:

Hey C.Me asshole

We all have opinions here. Because some of ours may be different from you doesn’t make us assholes, ASSHOLE!

Marilyn says:

I’m surprised. I thought this post would bring out many more neo-cons, as my confederate flag piece did. ‘Though I’m not sure those were actually neo-cons… whatever.

The majority of the postings today have redeemed my faith in humankind.

Marilyn says:

Gus J said: “Any gun owner that allows through their negligence a minor to fire a round unsupervised should have their right to any gun ownership revoked. They should also be jailed for a short time, and child protective services should investigate the parents with scrutiny. Marilyn, I’m sure you’re a fantastic parent, but your ex should have been locked up if the weapon your 4 year old discharged was his, because he clearly wasn’t a good father and someone could have died due to his negligence.”

When my children were small and I was still married to the big asshole, I suffered from agoraphobia. I was not in the position to assert myself against him (the ex). It was only with the help of a very good friend that I was able to get free of that sick relationship.

Fortunately for me, I’ve learned a great deal in the interim. No one would ever put me or my child(ren) in danger ever again. No one will ever walk over me again. I finally realized my worth and that of my children.

Becky says:

I’m also a little surprised that not more the crazy people showed up here today. Maybe they are out shooting their guns!

hard as nails says:

does lol girl carry a gun and if so, where does he carry it?

Henry says:

I read you often here and I’m a fan of yours but I must tell you one thing: I’m keeping my gun.

C.A. MacConnell says:

I think that making guns illegal would cause a black market rush, yes. I hate to say it, but it seems to be the case. I also think that with things like VT and Blacksburg going on, we need to look around ourselves, look at the person next to you, listen. See if that woman across the street needs help with her shopping cart. Notice when your buddy gets skinny b/c he’s on coke…look down the street, and see that girl on her lunch break, with her head in her hands…ask her if everything’s all right. We need to look. We need to pay more attention. We need to actually see those people around us, not just pass them by. Stricter laws maybe, but laws can only do so much. We need to open our eyes and use our experience to help those who might be in trouble. And maybe, just maybe, if we pay attention to hurting kids, their rages will die into anger, then fade, rather than snowball and turn into tragedy. And Gus, yeah, I guess I’ve had my strong moments, and I’m a stubborn-ass fighter, but I’m only here b/c of the help of others and faith. Others paid attention. They saw I was in trouble. In the end, it was always up to me, yes. But people were paying attention. People like you.

C.A. MacConnell says:

Marilyn, this post should make you proud to spark such a thoughtful discussion. Thank you for making me stop to think and be grateful.

Marilyn says:

Henry, I understand. I truly do. But I must echo Greg Flannery’s comment and state that I will never own a gun. Right now, in America, we still have the right to bear arms, and I respect this. As much as I disagree with the premise.

The reason that it was such a big deal back in colonial times to have the right to a gun was that we were still fighting for our independence against Britan. That thinking is archaic, in my view. It simply doesn’t apply.

Janice says:

Marilyn is very smart, unlike the guy who runs this thing. Why isn’t Marilyn in charge?


The hood is a place where there is a lot of crime. Outlawing guns wouldn’t help your situation. I doubt the guns used in most OTR shootings are by the legally registered owners of those guns.

So to quote the conservatives, “the criminals would still have them.”

Pete says:

You’re all nuts. I’m keeping my gun.

hard as nails says:

a return to marshall law and the wild, wild west.

the wild, wild west. now that was a great television show.


I’m going to have to disagree with you about the original thinking behind our right to bear arms. I’ve read a lot of the philosophical writings of our forefathers, and there is a fundamental distrust of the government, as well as the idea that the people WILL ALWAYS need to have the option of defending themselves against the powers that be.

Thomas Jefferson thought that the government should be completely thrown out and replaced every 15 years.

You also have to consider that most states were not keen on a central government, and the Amendments to the Constitution were concessions to get every state to sign up.

The right to bear arms is one of our most fundamental rights, and a reminder that this country belongs to the PEOPLE not just those in power.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a bleeding heart liberal, but I think this is an issue that goes deeper than political affiliations.

Guns are dangerous and should be regulated. Like I said, I don’t like them and I don’t want one.

Marilyn says:

What are other countries doing? Canada, the UK, Amerstam? Is it something we can emulate?

What are we doing wrong?

David Gallaher says:

Take a poll of posters here to see who can think while hysterical. I’m talking of chronic hysteria.
The reason many of us fail to see the pattern is because hysteria is triggered by different things in different folks.

“Other” people using cocaine or marijuana makes some people hysterical. (Think Semper Si)
Guns make some people hysterical. (Marilyn)
Terror makes some people hysterical. (Dept. of Homeland Security)
Nuclear proliferation makes some people hysterical. (Dubya)

As a person minimally susceptible to hysteria, I wouldn’t give a shit if Marilyn stored a nuclear device in her garage.
Laws passed under the influence of hysteria–and which ones aren’t?–always serve to make things worse, not to mention they never stop what they’re meant to stop.

archie says:

fools most of you. maybe all of you.

Marilyn says:

David, I must reply. After all my significant life experiences, the only thing I know of a certainty, is that I have never reacted hysterically.

Know what? (and I need you to understand this) If an armed person, right this very minute, broke down my front door and began to fire, I would not make a move to avoid this. It’s just the way I’m wired.

numb says:


David Gallaher says:

I’m not a psychiatrist, but many folks are obviously not aware of their chronic hysteria. Semper Si is probably less hysterical than you, in the sense you are defining it. It’s manifested by irrational thinking.

I don’t see anything hysterical about anything Marilyn has said here.

Guns = Death

It’s a serious issue and we should always talk about it.

Marilyn says:

Methinks David is labeling me hysterical because of some comments I made over on the Pork Blog, re, Celebrate the Neo Nazi’s Failure.

David, I won’t be labeled. If you choose to label me, that’s your deal, not mine.

David Gallaher says:

I Googled “chronic hysteria” and searched a little to find the sense that I mean. It’s a quote from Teddy Roosevelt lamenting the racism of Southerners at the time. Google “chronic hysteria” and Roosevelt together in your search.
Here’s my point.
Did Southeners see themselves afflicted with chronic hysteria? Yet, did they have a long term problem with their racist attitudes? Roosevelt wasn’t saying they were in a chronic dither, Marilyn.
To some people, guns have the same effect on them that black people had on Southerners. To some people, certain illegal drugs have that effect.
These people want government to make the things that make them hysterical go away. But government cannot. Not only that, government will cause far bigger problems trying.
The irony for Marilyn/Heather? is that she, supposedly, understands how the War on Drugs causes more harm than the drugs, but she cannot see how the exact same scenario applies to guns.

Marilyn says:

David, my summation of my essay above is this:
“Do we either outlaw guns 100% or fully arm each and every citizen? Would the total armament of US citizens be a deterrent to gun crime? You know, a return to marshall law and the wild, wild west.

Something needs to be done. What we are doing is clearly not working.”
Definition: Hysteria is a diagnostic label applied to a state of mind, one of unmanageable fear or emotional excesses.

I’m simply asking others for their opinions. I am not labeling anything about gun use. Although I did state that for myself personally, I don’t like guns.

Nothing about my essay portrayed “unmanageable fear or emotional excess”.

And I’ve beat this dead horse quite enough.

How did I get lumped in here? I’m pro-gun!

You know what makes David hysterical?


Of course he can’t see that he’s afflicted with chronic hysteria, such is the nature of the disorder.

David Gallaher says:

Marilyn and Heather,
We haven’t crossed the line from chronic hysteria into dither have we?
That’s allowed on blog sites, ya know.

Where are you when we need you? These women are double-teaming me.

Marilyn says:

No dither nor dather here, sir!

Ah, the beauty of THIS blog is that pretty much is allowed. A comfort in my olde age.

Rita says:

Marilyn and I have known each other for most of our lives; our opinion on owning guns are dramatically different. I grew up on an farm – no police for miles and miles – and an occasional attempted breaking and entering. My mom and I would be on our own for most evenings.

I was taught how to use a gun when I was very very young. The only reason to use a gun is to protect your own life or those you love. Fortunately, I was also taught how precious life is and that guns were not toys for expressions of anger.

I respect Marilyn’s and the others’ opinions about guns – pro and con.

I resent the use of “hysterical” decribing Marilyn and her opinions. A really Stupid Sexist word that is used to make women appear irrational. Her post was a rational discussion on the right to be armed. If you walked in her shoes, perhaps the people using the word “hysterical” would think differently.

“These women are double-teaming me.”

You wish!



David Gallaher says:

Now Rita wants a piece o’ me too. Would that be a four-way with cheese?

You’re just Mr. Popular round here!

Deb says:

If you don’t agree with the US Constitution then go to another country. Don’t try to change America just leave if you don’t like it. We don’t need American Citizens here who do not have the heart to protect the Constitution that gave us the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

See ya don’t let the door hit you in the butt on your way out.

Sorry to be blunt but if you don’t like to see citizens exercising their rights under the Constitution and you think it’s better somewhere else then why not move there?

Have a great day ALL!

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