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From the Far Margins 

In favor of pitchforks

My mom has guns. She's always had guns. My mom and dad's first date was duck hunting. Colorado. 1960s.

Mom taught me to shoot and I'm OK with a handgun, but I don't own one. I'd borrow mom's rifle if I wanted to hunt.

Carrying a gun makes some people feel safe. My mom is like that. She's had nightmares her whole life. Something inside her maybe feels powerless or vulnerable. Lots of people feel that way.

I've never been afraid of much. I trust people generally. I have been unpopular, though. Long ago someone featured me on the blog "Pass the Ammo." The page titles used words that rhymed with shoot. One page talked about the fact that I was gay. It was titled "Boot Nicole LeFavour."

I am not a person who feels that living in fear will make me safe. But people don't choose to be afraid. Some just are. And fear changes people, constricts their lives.

Maybe guns make people no longer feel fear. Or maybe they make fearful people feel they are doing something to protect themselves, though they are still afraid. I don't know. I know my mom still has nightmares, even though every night she sleeps with a gun by her bed.

What do we fear? A lot of people fear other people with guns attacking them. Women especially. So some learn to shoot and get permits. They pack like my mom does.

I have friends whose kids have shot themselves with the family hunting rifle or handgun. It's not easy to shoot yourself with a rifle but a handgun is another matter.

I think we can all pretty clearly picture the statistics on self-inflicted deaths with handguns. If you are unfamiliar with these I'll just tell you: twice as many deaths by suicide as by murder. Half of all suicides employed a firearm.

As a state lawmaker I had to vote on National Rifle Association legislation over and over and over. My NRA rating sucks. I voted "yes" once or twice because I believe people should be able to hunt to feed themselves. I believe they have a right to hunt to feed themselves.

My problem with guns is not about what we intentionally do to each other with them. My problem with guns is that humans are fallible. We are emotional and passionate. We reach despair and shoot ourselves. We become enraged and shoot our spouses. We become enraged and shoot strangers, lots of them. Sometimes.

A gun-rights argument might work for a perfectly rational species. Humans are not that. We have a right to collectively bear arms to protect ourselves in collective action against a rogue government or a government intent on taking our liberty. And if there is a good-sized group of us upset about our government, pitchforks and bricks can do a lot of damage in enough hands.

Yes. I just argued that our militia should be armed with pitchforks and bricks. Because people pretty rarely kill themselves or their wives with pitchforks or bricks.

The people off occupying the Oregon wildlife refuge could have done that with pitchforks and bricks. I'm pretty sure.

I prefer my protests to be free of any threat of harm to anyone. I'm more the type who thinks there is power in self-sacrifice and love in the face of hate. Not everyone feels that way. I can wish they did. But they don't.

Some people swallow hook-line-and-sinker Fox News' daily magic turning fear into something with a target. They like to have someone to blame for what they fear, even if who they blame is not actually the one responsible. Anger feels better than fear. Anger lets us believe we have a solution to that amorphous sense of unease called fear.

However, research shows anger makes us wildly irrational. In study after study, anger made people take irrational risks. It made them act against the interests of themselves or their families. Angry people invest badly, eat badly and calculate badly. Angry people consume irresponsibly.

Fearful people on the other hand are cautious. They avoid risks.

Unfortunately for the United States, fearful people are not the ones using their guns. Angry people are and always will, as long as they have guns to use. And the fearful, though they sleep with their guns under their mattresses, are still afraid. And the dead are still dead. So many sons and daughters, so many students and people who in a country without guns would still be alive today.

Nicole LeFavour is a longtime educator and activist, former Boise Weekly reporter, and served in both the Idaho House of Representatives and Idaho State Senate.

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