“Ask Amy,” authored by Amy Dickinson, is one of the mid-level practitioners of the syndicated advice columnist’s craft—not consistently brilliant like Carolyn Hax, not as persistently wrong-headed as the now mercifully retired Emily Yoffe at Slate.
A recent letter to Amy read,
Dear Amy: This week, I discovered that my intelligent, hard-working, responsible 24-year-old daughter (who lives with me) is a gun owner! And it’s not a normal gun, either — it is a 40-caliber semi-automatic, and she has hollow-point bullets to go with it. Amy, this is the kind of weapon a criminal would possess! She says it is for emergencies. There have only been two home invasions in our neighborhood in the last 11 years. I’ve given her three choices: She can either give her weapon to me, sell it or move out in three weeks. I love my daughter and would be so sad for her to move into a place that she would hardly be able to afford, but now I have to lock my bedroom door at night because I don’t know what she’s going to do. Now she says that I don’t trust her, and is barely speaking to me. How can I convince her to stop endangering us?—Dumbfounded Father
Let’s make a couple of observations right away.
- The father has every right to refuse to let the daughter keep a gun in his house; she is his guest. Nor was it respectful, fair or honest for her to bring a gun into the house without telling her host. I don’t know what the writer thinks is a “normal gun,” but a 40-caliber semi-automatic is certainly one in this day and age.
The writer is apparently frightened by the scary “semi-automatic” part, which just means he is unfamiliar with firearms that wouldn’t be used by Hopalong Cassidy.
- “Amy, this is the kind of weapon a criminal would possess!” is free-floating anti-gun hysteria.
It’s also a gun a law-abiding citizen would possess, except that such a gun would be possessed legally.
- “There have only been two home invasions in our neighborhood in the last 11 years” is a non-sequitur. Emergencies, by definition, are not commonplace.
If there are home invasions in your neighborhood every day, the solution is to move, not to buy a gun.
- “Now I have to lock my bedroom door at night because I don’t know what she’s going to do,” he says, but is shocked that she now “says that I don’t trust her.” Gee, why would she ever think that? He doesn’t trust her! He equates gun ownership with being a criminal, and is now afraid to be in the same house with her.
Dumbfounded Father is officially irrational. If he thinks he has to lock his door against his criminal daughter when she has a gun, why would that change once she gets rid of the gun? She can still kill him in dozens of ways.
Now here’s Amy’s professional advice—I’ll interlocute to save time:
Dear Dumbfounded: According to my research, possessing hollow-point bullets is illegal in 11 states; is it legal in your state to own this sort of exploding ammunition?
Amy apparently thinks the daughter is a criminal too. By my calculations, 51 minus 11 equals 40, which would mean that there is a 400% better chance that the daughter is law-abiding than a criminal—IF Amy knew what she was talking about, which she does not. Her research was incompetent; she obviously googled hollow-point bullets, and was confused when the first source told her that armor-piercing bullets are illegal in eleven states. Armor-piercing bullets are not only different from hollow-points (see the photos above) they are the opposite of them: they have reinforced tips, which makes sense if you think about it, Hollow-point ammunition is illegal in only one state, New Jersey.
They also do not “explode.”
In a report published in 2015, researchers at the University of Chicago found that 31 percent of households reported having a firearm in 2014, down from about 48 percent in 1980. According to this study, there are more guns, but concentrated in fewer households. Why must your household be one of them?
This is just anti-gun blather using a dubious study. (A very large number of individuals wouldn’t tell researchers that they have a gun, especially in the midst of the post-Sandy Hook anti-gun freak-out Nobody said the inquirer’s home “must” be one of them. The statement is straw man.
Where did your daughter get this weapon and ammunition? Has she received any safety training or certification? (Accidental gun death is a substantial risk of owning a gun.) Is she perhaps engaged in another activity outside of your household that exposes her to increased risks and makes her believe she needs to have a weapon?
Yes, Amy presumes that because the daughter has a gun, she may be involved in something nefarious. The vast, vast majority of gun owners are law-abiding, but since they lust for the evil machine, they are obviously untrustworthy. Asking one’s child about her training if she owns a gun is a legitimate topic for a concerned parent to raise. Presuming or suspecting that she owns a gun because she is a drug-runner, a bank-robber or a hired assassin is not. Amy is mouthing the anti-gun zealot’s “nobody needs a gun because I don’t think I need a gun” arrogance. This is still a free country where individuals get to decide if and when they need a gun, not ignorant, gun-phobic advise columnists who write things like “Accidental gun death is a substantial risk of owning a gun.”
Accidental car, motorcycle, lawnmower, chainsaw and gas grill injuries are a substantial risk of owning cars, motorcycles, lawnmowers, chainsaw and gas grills. Amy has all the facile anti-gun taking points on the tip of her metaphorical tongue, and hasn’t given the topic the serious thought she would devote to buying a puppy.
I have news for you: A locked bedroom door is no match for this weaponry; as I write this, just five days ago a father in South Carolina tragically shot and killed his own 23-year-old daughter through a closed door — when he mistook her for an intruder.
How to throw gasoline on an already smoldering hysteric, Amy! If Dad is so worried that his daughter is going to shoot him through the door, she needs to move out whether she has a gun or not.
I agree with your ultimatum; I also weep that there is yet another (likely unsafe) gun owner in this country.
Res ipsa loquitur.
Dear Amy: Since you are ignorant and phobic about guns, it would be unethical to presume to give any advice regarding them. Shut up.