Anne Krapu: Responsibility And Guns In North Dakota


“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

GEORGE W. BUSH, remarks, Aug. 5, 2004

I do feel badly for George W. Bush.  The line above was treated as a total gaffe in 2004, but in the wake of our national epidemic of mass shootings, the quotation sounds more like profound wisdom.  

The Dickinson Press ran a story last Tuesday that listed North Dakota as one of 11 states that had yet to experience a school shooting since the Sandy Hook incident in 2012.  A situation involving attempted suicide with a firearm did occur at Fairmount High School a few months prior.  The article notes, “Local school and police officials can’t explain why there hasn’t been a school shooting in North Dakota for going on three years.”  I’m going to take a stab at trying to explain this myself and make recommendations for North Dakota to maintain that relatively good record.  

Most North Dakotans grow up around firearms and learn to respect them at a young age, whether through hunting, military/police service in the family, or both.  I am one of these people.  The men in my family are avid hunters and the first weapon I shot was a police-style sniper rifle under the supervision of a qualified teacher when I was 15.  I’ve also taken beginning pistol marksmanship.  I am not the type of liberal who shrieks like an eleven-year-old-girl-when-a-spider-tries-to-make-friends-in-the-shower when I see a gun.

I do think that the cultural respect for firearms has contributed to a lower level of gun violence in North Dakota in general.  (Remember the episode of Jersey Shore when Snooki and the Situation tried to drunkenly hook up in the gun vault and absolutely nothing went wrong?  Neither do I.)  Also, prairie people are a bit more reserved than the coastal varieties, and I think that adds to being able to not explode from bottled-up emotions.  When things get seriously bad, we binge drink and pass out–  instead of shooting people. But the same can be said for our Dakotan neighbors to the south who just had a pretty scary school incident in Sioux Falls.   We may be the better Dakota, but we’re not so different that this isn’t something that could happen in our backyard.   

We need to be proactive.  I’m arguing that gun owners should to conform to community standards (what North Dakotans expect of each other) and if that does not happen, the state is justified in passing formal gun control reforms to help facilitate this.

Break-ins and other robberies have been garnering quite a bit of attention lately.  People need to secure their firearms at home.  I’m tired of hearing stories about some meth addict (“tweaker”) stealing iPhones, cash, pills in the medicine cabinet, and the host’s guns at a party.  It irritates me when I learn about a break-in and the thief made off with laptops, all of the jewelry, and the inhabitant’s firearms.  To someone who is desperate enough to engage in high risk criminal activity for cash, a handgun is expensive, easy to transport, and in demand, so of course the guns are going to be stolen.  Plus, now those weapons have gone from legally possessed to the black market underground (where law abiding gun owners don’t shop).  Firearms within the home must be secured.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″] I’m arguing that gun owners should to conform to community standards (what North Dakotans expect of each other) and if that does not happen, the state is justified in passing formal gun control reforms to help facilitate this.[/mks_pullquote]

I know there are rebuttals to this:

“It’s my property and I’ll do what I want.” Unless you’re living in a secure doomsday shelter, you’re susceptible to break-ins like everyone else and probably have better things to do than patrolling your premises 24/7.  If you don’t, grab a beer with other gun owners – you need to get out more.  

“Tweakers wouldn’t dare mess with my house.”  Touché, but we’re not really talking about the most rational or logical segment of society here. Fun fact:  Who is arguably the most famous tweaker who wasn’t a character on Breaking Bad?  Hitler.  Your house is the Eastern Front.  It was a bad idea to open it up, but it still happened and the result was catastrophic for everyone.

“Everyone in my house knows how to use guns and respect them.”  Do you really want to be on safety patrol whenever your family has a new acquaintance over?  You might be very knowledgeable about weapons, but that’s not true for everyone. (And this is just counting the people you’ve actually invited over, not the aforementioned tweakers, who make abominable houseguests. They don’t eat much and some even love to clean, but you’ll pay for it soon after in more ways than one.)

“How am I supposed to defend myself if my gun is locked up in the basement?”  Fine.  I’ll let the NRA answer this one.  “It’s the NRAstore’s business to help you defend your home – swiftly, simply and safely. That’s why our Quick Access Pistol Boxes boast a patented design that prevents unauthorized access to your valuables, while keeping them easily accessible.” I imagine the NRA supports securing weapons since they are making money off of the idea, and the NRA doesn’t compromise its values, right?  The “criminals will get guns anyway” argument rings hollow if all legal gun owners aren’t taking serious measures to prevent criminals from getting their guns.  .

“The government can’t make me use a gun locker.”  I’m not asking the state to do it.  I’m asking you to do it.  I’d imagine even the strongest 2nd amendment advocates would feel badly if one of their handguns went missing and resurfaced on KVLY or WDAY the next day after it had been used to kill a child in the community – probably forever.  If you’ve earmarked enough cash for a handgun, ammunition, and possibly a conceal carry permit, you can do this and get an A+ for responsible gun ownership.  

I’m also tired of hearing people justify why they aren’t complying with court orders or advice from mental health professionals to not be in possession of a weapon.  

“Well, those charges against me were BS and my lawyer was an idiot.  Yeah I can’t buy a gun and the judge said I’m not supposed to have one, but this one here is registered to my brother.  They aren’t going to take my guns away.”  This is part of the social contract of living in our society.  Give it up, appeal, or don’t get upset if you get caught and prosecuted for this serious act of civil disobedience.  

“The social worker asked us to remove the firearms from our house or lock them up where he can’t get to them.  I said we would, but it would just be too much for him, having to take his guns away and all.” If counselors and social workers are asking a family to make some changes, it’s because the best interest of the patient and that family are at heart.  Mental health professionals do not currently have the ability to legally enforce their recommendations for voluntary patients (those who have not been committed to an institution by a judge).  Help them out.

These are some miscellaneous arguments I feel compelled to address:

“Well, if people are so worried about school shootings, teachers and administrators should carry in schools.” NO.  As a classroom teacher, I have enough education-related variables to manage that expecting me or any other busy school employee to carry at work to solve the problem is ridiculous and unfair.   Having school resource police officers is a good investment, not just because they are used to carrying, but because it’s good to have all hands on deck to detect distressing behaviors well before shots are fired.  Agree?  Don’t complain if this requires a slight increase in city taxes or a pet project gets sidelined to fund it.

“Everyone who has a concealed carry permit knows how to use a gun properly.”  In North Dakota, this isn’t necessarily true according to the law.  The Class 2 CCW only requires an open-book test (this license has no reciprocity, so it really is an ND-centric problem).  While there would be a lot of 15 year olds rejoicing if our driver’s license tests only required an open-book exam, the rest of us would be pretty irritated when they can’t remember who has the right-of-way at a four way stop and are texting their friends in the middle of the intersection for advice.  I’d suggest amending the Class 2 requirements to include a closed-book test AND presentation of a valid hunting license or hunting education ID.  If you want to conceal carry and have no documentation of proficiency or familiarity with any firearm you’d have to go for the Class 1 with the classroom component. This is not a radical idea, especially when applied to new North Dakota residents that don’t have reciprocity from another state valid in ND.

Finally, some food for thought:  If you really want to overthrow the US government because it is tyrannical and unjust in the 21st century and not the 18th, I’d recommend making friends with some Romanian hackers (can’t trust the Chinese, Romanians are more affordable/just as effective, post-Ceaușescu, Romanians really hate centralized authority, and their English is better), nuclear scientists, bioengineers, and a good film crew.  Conventional weapons aren’t going to cut it.  A realistic manual on how to deal with Jade Helm type situations can be found here.

My favorite Bush by far is the one that is led by Gavin Rossdale.  But W. has a clear lead over Stuff Happens in my book, even if we are just talking about gaffes.  W’s were funny, unlike Jeb’s.

*Note:  All information not cited or linked is from private off-line conversations.