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From George Zimmerman to Michael Dunn, "Carrying" Makes People More Violent




Everyone has heard the expression, "if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything will look like a nail."  As self-deputized armed citizens increasingly end up in court, the saying clearly applies to "carriers." Once vigilante-style cop wannabas are armed, anyone from a kid carrying Skittles or playing music too loudly to someone texting his daughter or throwing popcorn at the movie theater looks like a "bad guy" to be shot and killed.


Last spring, anti-gun violence author and activist Heidi Yewman explored the psychology of carrying a gun in a widely read online diary called "My Month With a Gun." Yewman, author of Beyond the Bullet, decided to buy and carry a Glock 9mm handgun because she "wondered what would it be like to be that good guy with a gun. What would it be like to get that gun, live with that gun, be out and about with that gun."


Procuring a gun was easy. "The whole thing took 7 minutes. As a gratified consumer, I thought, 'Well, that was easy.' Then the terrifying reality hit me, 'Holy hell, that was EASY.'  Too easy. I still knew nothing about firearms," wrote Yewman. Both the gun dealer who sold Yewman her Glock and a policeman she randomly asked for help in ascertaining if there were bullets in the chamber, knew she was walking around with a lethal weapon she knew nothing about. Hey, this is America! She has rights!


Soon owning the Glock changed Yewman's actual thinking. "Before I had a gun, I would go to sleep thinking about what I'd make for dinner tomorrow or how to help my son on a project or remind myself to pay a bill I'd forgotten. With a gun, all I thought about were the sounds I heard at night. I would lie awake thinking: 'Is someone breaking in? How fast can I get to the gun? Will they hear me? How much time do I have before they get to my bedroom? What if they go to my son's room first? Will I shoot them in the face or heart or stomach?'"


Seeing trouble because you are armed is a new and deadly theme seen in recent gun violence. In the last year, gun owners have killed their own family members, new neighbors, stranded motorists and a wandering Alzheimer victim, thinking them "intruders."


Curtis Reeves, a retired police officer accused of killing Chad Oulson and wounding his wife Nicole at a movie theater in Wesley Chapel, Florida apparently thought his life was threatened by another patron texting and throwing popcorn. Defendant Michael Dunn discharged his concealed weapon nine times into a car of youths, allegedly killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis because he felt his "life was threatened." Dunn did not mention seeing a weapon to his fiancée after the shooting, according to court testimony, nor did he even report the shooting to police. Chalk one up to civilian justice!  George Zimmerman, of course, was threatened by murdered teen Trayvon Martin even though it was Zimmerman who had the gun. And almost every week armed road ragers shoot at other motorists because they feel "threatened" when cut off in traffic. In fact, the legions of "carriers" in the US have created a brand new criminal offense that is filling morgues and courtrooms: AWA-- armed while angry.


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