UK and USA public libraries – guns drawn?

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?

Author: Jennie

Law, libraries, books, crafts, and general geekery.

One thought on “UK and USA public libraries – guns drawn?”

  1. Unfortunately an armed community also means we’ve had the recent (last decade) phenomenon of the first person shooter–starting with Columbine. We had an officer speak to us recently about how best to react in a fps situation. That we have to actively consider that is sad and a little scary.

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