In response to the Aurora, Colo., shootings on this week, New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow writes about his conflicted emotions. Recalling his childhood in northern Louisiana, where owning and carrying guns was the norm, Blow wonders whether the right to bear arms and the right to be safe can co-exist in America.

I grew up in a small town in northern Louisiana — in the sticks. Everyone there seemed to own guns, even the children. My brothers slept beneath a gun rack that hung over their bed. Women carried handguns for protection. Even now, my oldest brother is an amateur gun dealer, buying and selling guns at his local gun shows.

There are parts of America where guns are simply part of the culture, either for hunting and keeping the vermin out of the garden (there are more humane methods of doing this, of course, but some people simply have their ways), or for collecting.

(According to a 2011 Gallup poll, 45 percent of Americans have a gun in their home.)

But, as a child, I also saw how guns could be used in a fit of anger or after a few swigs of liquor. And I have seen the damage they do to the fabric of society in big cities where criminals and cowards alike use them to settle disputes and even scores.


Read Charles M. Blow's entire piece at the New York Times.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

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