I read David Groshoff’s article, “Modest Proposal,” at the same time I read Sean Patrick Brennan’s post on bullies growing up to join the Republican party (see my related post). Groshoff makes some great points on how we have failed bullied, suicidal (‘bullycidal,’ as he terms it) teens, how the legal system has been too slow and has failed them, and how teachers and parents have failed them. In so many ways, he was right on the money.
Groshoff then goes on to talk about turning politicians’ and the courts’ legal opinion about the Second Amendment and the right to defend ourself, and how it’s perhaps time for the LGTBQ community to make the opinions our own: to consider promoting self-defense or even arming these bullied teens. (The link to his full paper is at the bottom of this post.)
From the perspective of someone who’s lived through being harassed because of their sexuality at a very young age, I would love to say, “yes, let’s protect these kids or let them protect themselves in any way necessary,” but I can’t. My 13-year-old self wants to know what the he** I’d do with a weapon? Would I have the guts to use it on someone else? Or, if I was feeling bad enough about myself….? The adult me — yes, the liberal adult who believes we need better gun control in this country — thinks that if there was ever a group of individuals not to arm, it would be teens. Look at the mess adults make when armed: their kids accidentally shoot other kids or themselves; their stolen guns end up in the wrong hands; or they kill their families when the marriage goes sour. And these are just the small(er), legally obtained guns, not the automatic weapons that we argue about so often and that are often purchased illegally and/or for criminal reasons. Add the hormonal fluctuations and the developing brain of an adolescent to the mix and allowing them to carry weapons for self-defense (especially in schools where there are hundreds of other hormonal, differently-developing beings bouncing off one another) seems like a bad idea.
I don’t have the answers to the problems of queer teens being bullied to the point of suicide, other than the human decency, dialog, looking out for one another, speaking up and leading by example that I’ve espoused many times in this blog, but my gut reaction is that allowing them to be armed is not it either. The main problem — after the bullies themselves — is that there is no quick fix.
(Groshoff’s full “Modest Proposal” can be found here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1782056. It’s very deep and legal; I’m still reading and rereading it.)