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Josh Sugarmann

Josh Sugarmann

Posted: October 9, 2009 03:18 PM

Beyond the Easy Irony of Murdered Gun Advocate Meleanie Hain

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The murder-suicide involving Pennsylvania mother of three Meleanie Hain -- who gained national note and pro-gun fame as the result of a legal battle stemming from the revocation of her permit to carry a concealed handgun by local law enforcement after she openly carried a loaded Glock 9mm pistol to her daughter's soccer game -- is a macabre lesson in easy irony. A woman who preached the National Rifle Association gospel that guns make you safer and protect your family is shot dead by her husband in a murder-suicide, her surviving family devastated.

From news reports, Hain, who posted on the web site of the Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association under the name "shefearsnothing" with an accompanying graphic proclaiming "Danger: I know no fear," was a true believer: guns don't kill, people do. A corollary to this well-worn mantra is that gun ownership guarantees personal safety. The shooting in Pennsylvania belies both these pro-gun tenets. As her attorney, Matthew Weisberg, stated: "My first reaction was shock and sadness. The second was that it's the truest illustration of irony" -- a context only sharpened by the fact that the shooting occurred during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

As an advocate who debated gun control supporters, Hain was well aware of the facts presented in opposition to her views. Yet she parried them as irrelevant to her world, in the same way that the concerns of her fellow Pennsylvania soccer moms were dismissed as the intellectual flotsam of the anti-gun mind. To this mindset, gun homicides, unintentional deaths and suicides were events that happened to other people who lacked the temperament, training or personal fortitude to own a gun. In essence, Hain, like many of her fellow pro-gun advocates, lacked an ability to think in the abstract: Her gun experience was positive and whatever negative effects others felt from firearms, the gun, and gun owners like herself, were never to blame. Is it too bold to think that if she had survived her husband's attack by shooting him to death she would have offered his killing as proof of the effectiveness of the self-defense handgun? Based on 25 years in the gun control debate I don't think so.

Instead, she will become one of the statistics that she so readily dismissed. One of the 30,000 who die from guns each year. One of the hundreds of women shot to death by their husbands or intimate acquaintances each year. One of the hundreds of murder-suicides that occur each year. One of the tens of thousands of families destroyed by gun violence each year. Each death standing as proof that the absolute she tried to personify -- that owning a handgun will guarantee your safety -- is false.