Friday, January 8, 2016

Disability, safety, wheelchairs and guns

Here's one aspect of the gun laws debate I admit I never thought of. After the San Bernardino shooting, one of my directors pointed out that the place that the terrorist couple opened fire was a center for people with disabilities. I don't remember this fact being particularly advertised in the media. "They're like sitting ducks"- she said, pointing out that nobody there had any means to defend themselves and everyone was at the mercy of the killers. Wow, I thought- if there was ever a better illustration of how powerless your disability can render you. I've said time and time again that people should have guns if it makes them feel safer, that I feel safer if a trained and qualified gun user is around me, but that I would personally never get a gun because I'd fear I hurt myself. I tense up easily and I practically have only one functioning hand. I know guns are not a popular subject for a lot of people and I debated even bringing this topic up in my writings.   My Board Member then told me that she would take me to a shooting range and that I needed to learn. I don't need to buy a gun- or have one she said, but I need to learn how to use it. In an emergency, if a gun or a clip fell to the ground would I know how to pick it up and use it, reload it if I needed to, switch the safety off. This is a touchy subject for a lot of people, but I do see the value of knowing how to handle something that people use and handle for their safety, that is broadly available even if I don't have one myself. Educating myself can save my life and ignorance can surely kill me.

 So I did try to contact someone at the NRA with only one question: Do they offer any training courses for people with physical disabilities or know someone who does. Not to promote gun use, but to promote knowledge. And the more we talked about it - with that co-worker of mine, the more I realized that people with disabilities would not only require special holsters or other ways to carry it, but a host of specialized accessories. I thought about whether it would be appropriate to approach this problem as a the Foundation. I'm sure such work would alienate a lot of potential donors. But I really want to know what is out there. And what is being done to keep people with disabilities  safe.  I know I might take some heat for this, but I can even see some therapeutic value to owning and having a gun. We're talking about people who often feel deprived of something or limited. Getting the power to defend themselves back seems like confidence booster, reclaiming some control and normalcy. But it's not for everyone. Most likely it's not for me. But I'd like to now more. And everyone likes to have options. But that's the point: I created the Florida Disability Access and Awareness Foundation to talk about issues and aspects relating to mobility and disability perception that no one has before. And I look forward to work with a broad rage of partners, varying from issue to issue to push the discussions further. For now visit http://fdaaf.org and get to know our vision.

2 comments:

  1. Now there's a question of social inclusion that I have never heard raised before. Then I am not in America.

    I had spotted that it was a center for the disabled that was attacked but I saw no reporting that on how disabled people fared during the assault. My first thoughts involved questions of hiding, taking cover, escape and in the case of people with CNS problems the effects of loud retorts in a confined space.

    'Technical' questions I am afraid, with no consideration of human rights or fighting back.

    Keep right on mentioning the unmentionable. As for the 'technical'aspects of all this, why not ask a gun-savvy conductor? Check out Judit Roth on Facebook (she lives in Virginia)

    Andrew.

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