Dear Readers: I recently ran a question from “Dumbfounded Father” in my column. This man had a 24-year-old daughter who was living with him. She had recently disclosed that she possessed a .40 caliber semi-automatic weapon, with hollow point bullets. This father did not want to have guns in his home.
In my response, I incorrectly stated that hollow point bullets “explode.” I stated, also incorrectly, that this ammunition is illegal in 11 states.
I take responsibility for this error, and apologize to readers who were misinformed, confused or furious about it.
I reached out to Eric Delbert, a second-generation law enforcement officer and owner (with his father) of LEPD firearms range and training facility in Columbus, Ohio, who patiently described the characteristics of hollow point bullets. They do not explode. They expand. This ammunition seems to be only partially banned in one state (NJ). He also pointed out that the .40 caliber semi-automatic is extremely popular, and — in his opinion — an appropriate choice for this young woman.
I firmly believe that homeowners have the right to protect themselves and their homes from civilians bringing firearms onto their private property.
An adult family member who pays no rent or expenses is a guest in the home. If this daughter won’t relinquish her firearm — this houseguest should take her gun and find another place to live.
This Q and A from my column has been widely shared on social media, and I have been called out scores of times by gun owners and advocates who used my error on hollow point bullets to disregard my point of view. That’s on me.
Many angry readers also suggested that my ignorance of firearms and ammunition disqualifies me from commenting on gun ownership or gun violence.
Obviously, I disagree. I don’t have to know the intricacies of a car engine to advocate for commonsense driving and licensing laws.
I was also accused of having a “bias” against guns. A gun is an inanimate object. I don’t hold a particular bias against these objects.
I definitely have a bias against the people who use guns to terrorize and kill one another. I also have a bias against the gun lobby that gaslights Americans into believing that gun ownership is not only a right, but also — these days — a necessity, as many readers have suggested.
My position on gun ownership arises from my own exposure to the heartbreaking aftermath of gun violence. As a journalist, I spent time with and interviewed many mothers who had lost their young children to random and unprovoked gun violence. I wrote about the killings at Columbine High School, and the culture of violence that contributed to that massacre.
My very small rural hometown has been rocked by a series of gun killings, including an entire family murdered on Christmas Eve, a workplace murder, and the tragic story of a father who was murdered protecting his daughter from her gun-wielding boyfriend.
Plus, I live in the world. School killings, church killings, workplace killings, mall killings, partner killings, accidental shootings — we are awash in violence, and ready access to dangerous weaponry makes it too easy for innocent people to get shot. Thoughts and prayers, it turns out, are no match for a hollow point bullet.
On the day I’m writing this, two fairly quotidian stories of senseless gun violence caught my eye: One involved two men who killed each other in a shootout when one cut another off in traffic (both men reportedly had concealed carry permits). The other was of an ambush shooting at a California Costco parking lot (the second Costco shooting in three days): one dead, two injured.
This column is a great space to explore the vagaries of the human condition. Questions from the lovelorn, love-lost or betrayed; the confused parents, Bridezillas, and angry in-laws — all provide insights into the daily struggles presented just by being human and living in the world. Gun violence is part of our world, and so we should talk about that, too.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)