I found this story on a US library news blog. It’s about a UK public library story (which in itself is entirely horrific), but the comments show an interesting cultural difference. As a UK resident, I find the sometimes easy American acceptance of gun ownership quite unsettling. I understand that there’s a Constitutional right to bear arms (and a huge debate about that in itself), but the culture of acceptance of the need to have access to a weapon is, to me, quite scary. For a personal example – while working in America, I managed to gain a stalker. The response of my workmates? Did they offer to help me report him to the police / give me a lift to the police station, accompany me there, offer moral support, give me safety tips, work out a strategy of how to lose him and distance him from me?
Nope – they offered me various handguns to protect myself with. I had never even seen a real gun, let alone handled one, had no weapons permit and no intention of (or probably legal basis for) getting one, and would be more of a danger to myself than anyone else with a gun, but I was being offered a deadly weapon to protect myself with, as if this was normal. Familiarity with guns can lead to them being seen as the entire solution to a problem, rather than a possible part of a strategy to solve a problem.
The comments section shows a debate over whether allowing the library staff or security staff to be armed would have stopped this. I can’t see that this is a debate that could ever even be opened in the UK.
- Would YOU feel safe in a library (or any area) where the staff were armed? I know I feel LESS safe in the airports where intimidating , riot-geared police loiter with guns casually slung over their arms. Would thinking that staff could access a gun if needed make you feel reassured, or nervous?
- Do you think arming staff / security will ever make a public library safer?
- And would that mean that library staff would have to be checked for suitability to carry a gun? Would you progress faster if you were ok with having a gun? Would a personality test that revealed you to be unsuitable to be armed prevent you from being employed?
- What’s to stop a staff member being the one who ‘goes postal’ and opens fire?