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Sophie’s Got a Gun….

posted Friday January 14th, 2011

For the last day, I haven’t been able to get the tune to the Aerosmith song “Janie’s Got A Gun” out of my head. But in my head it’s:

Sophie’s got a gun….

I was interviewing a lawyer yesterday who does a lot of work on behalf of the mentally ill, and we were talking (because what else has anybody been talking about this week, in Arizona, anyway?) about gun control. And I asked him if he thought we should make people get mental evaluations before they can buy guns.

Good question, he said. He’s not so sure about that. But he does think the gun laws here are too lax. For example, he told me, you can’t get a gun if you’ve been committed, but plenty of very sick people have not been committed.

Maybe people with guardians shouldn’t be able to buy guns, he mused, then explained: Often the courts appoint guardians to protect seriously mentally ill and other vulnerable people; that means they can’t have a driver’s license in Arizona, he explained, but it doesn’t mean they are prohibited from buying a gun. 

Interesting, I replied, not making the connection right away, and asked, give me some examples of other people who have guardians.

Well, he said, someone with Alzheimer’s might have a guardian. Someone with developmental disabilites, and –.

A lightbulb went off over my head.

Wait a minute, I interrupted. You mean to tell me that a person with Down syndrome can buy a gun?

Well, yes, he said. Legally, they could.

I hung up feeling sick. Even my husband, the staunchest gun rights advocate I know (and yes, this has led to some ugly debates) has been heard to say (with love) that he’d never want to see Sophie holding a loaded gun.


Yes, I realize that even in a place like this, a certain amount of self-policing goes on. Chances are that no one would ever sell Sophie a gun. But they might. And although the chances are even slimmer that she’d actually use it — both because she is a nice person and because I doubt she’ll ever have the strength in her fingers to pull the trigger — I could certainly see her buying a gun for a friend. A friend with a long rap list who wasn’t allowed to buy a gun. Not that I can really see Sophie making friends with a felon, but — you get the picture.

The picture (along with the tune) that I can’t get out of my head.

I’ve had so much food for thought over this past week that I need to go on a serious information diet. I wish Project Runway’s new season would start already. My head hurts.

Sophies’ got a gun….

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Tags: Filed under: culture, Down syndrome, politics by Amysilverman

5 Responses to “Sophie’s Got a Gun….”

  1. I’ve been thinking about that this week (the info diet) …I just stopped watching the news after my daughter was born. Not a conscious decision but just stopped. And I used to be a news hound. Obviously can’t avoid the shootings, but that just reinforces the reason – trying to hold on to bits of happiness, in whatever closeted blindfolded way I can.

    On a lighter note, Aerosmith??? I’d recommend going back to the Weepies :)

  2. Amy how crazy is it that I was reading a newspaper article tonight about how even after this tragedy it’s not looking like there are going to be any changes in gun control laws…and I was just thinking the same thing! That even Johanna could probably buy guns under these regulations and tote them around. Jewish women on opposite sides of the coast have same brain waves…hah! Your post is right on the mark my friend and, as your posts always are, absolutely brilliant.

  3. Hmmm… being in mental health I have to say the lawyer is correct. Don’t you need a drivers license to get a gun? Here in VT we have extremely liberal gun laws but not a lot of gun violence. We have a culture though of guns for hunting and a lot of education re: responsible gun ownership that starts very young – often parents take their kids hunting and teach them. Occasionally there are hunting accidents and there are strict consequences for that.
    I really think that it’s not about owning guns generally but more about how many clips someone can have , ownership of semi-automatics or other non personal protection/hunting guns. If it was a handgun that shooter would’ve only hurt one person (not that that’s okay you understand).
    Sigh… it’s also about the culture of guns. When I saw that one guy on tv get up and talk passionately about the need for guns due to tyrannical gov’t and the 2nd amendment I wanted to throw up and talk about treason. I think it’s coming to that myself. There are a loftof wingnuts in the world and I’m not talking about the mentally ill (Glen Beck fits into both categories BTW).

  4. I’ve been thinking about this as well, since you posted it to FB. In theory I don’t have a problem with someone owning a gun (handgun or hunting rifle- I can’t think of one reason why any civilian would need a semi-automatic weapon?!).

    But, I don’t think any tom, dick or jane should be able to walk into a walmart and buy a gun, waiting periods are good I suppose but just don’t seem enough.

    Shouldn’t there be some sort of class/evaluation before you purchase a fire arm? Personally I would never purchase a firearm unless I took the steps to learn how to use one, and I’m totally ok with someone trying to judge my mental stability before selling it to me.

  5. A while ago I saw a youtube video of a 10 year old girl with Ds going hunting. She handled the gun well and brought down a deer.

    Is this really a problem? If she is ever independent enough to make other serious decisions, then why not this?

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