On Saturday afternoon, October 19, your gun-bearing neighbor could be passing out candy or lemonade to kids playing or riding their bikes in the area. This Facebook event, "Guns Next Door," is a protest organized by gun activist group Gun Rights Across America, urging gun owners to open carry and to "be heard," apparently by ingratiating themselves to children throughout the nation.
As gun owner Bobbi Hughes-Millman wrote on the event page, "What kind of message are we sending by wearing a weapon and handing out candy to children? 'Look kids, there’s a man with a gun. He can be trusted!'" Whatever the group's intentions, this protest is not only a horrible idea and poorly thought out, but it also demonstrates a wider disregard from gun supporters for what is morally acceptable.
Consider, for instance, that most responsible parents regularly warn their children against taking candy from strangers. Whose bright idea was it to encourage gun owners to emulate kidnappers and pedophiles? How is Guns Next Door supposed to send a message to federal and state lawmakers when all these armed protesters are acting like major creeps throughout the neighborhood?
But perhaps what is most appalling is the continued lack of sensitivity that brazen gun activists continue to display. Guns Next Door follows the declaration by gun supporters of a nationwide "Starbucks Appreciation Day" on Friday, August 9, as a thank-you to the coffee chain for allowing customers to carry weapons in stores. Starbucks Appreciation Day came to a head in Newtown, Conn., where townspeople may never be able to escape the devastating memory of the December 14 Sandy Hook massacre.
Although the local Starbucks in Newtown closed hours early out of respect to the community, people on either side of the gun divide stayed outside the store, with gun supporters standing on the left and gun opponents on the right, holding candles. Seeing some of the arms bearers smoking cigarettes, a gun opponent said, "Hey! Did you know you're not allowed to smoke on Starbucks property? You don't care about anything, just what pertains to you!" Her name is Barbara Kraushaar, and she lives nearby the home of Adam Lanza, the man who gunned down elementary school students and teachers at Sandy Hook.
"How can they even think of being here?" Kraushaar asked, tears running down her face. "It is so in-your face! It’s plain disgusting and heartless."
Since the Sandy Hook killings, 58 children became victims of gun violence as of April this year. A recent report reveals that guns killed twice as many children as cancer did in 2010, and gun deaths among the young also outnumbered the number of soldiers injured while in Afghanistan.
To encourage the presence of guns among youths in so casual a way is morally reprehensible. So why do gun activists insist on exhibiting such outrageous behavior? But even gun activists seem to have little faith among themselves. A disclaimer on Guns Next Door's Facebook page reads, "Gun Rights Across America is not responsible for any laws that are broken as a result of this event."