Your local library has a large display case that showcases individual collections by hobbyists of the community.Typically, patrons sign up to display their collections on a monthly basis and when it is their turn, they set up the display and after a month take it down in readiness for the next collection. You come into the library onemorning and notice that a patron is proudly setting up a display of antique guns. They are not loaded and thepatron has put in considerable effort to make the display interesting. However, you have many conservative patrons in the community and guns have never been displayed before. Do you allow the patron to continue, knowing that the display is locked and cannot harm anyone or do you politely ask the patron to bring in a more “suitable” collection?
Does being a controversial subject exclude firearms from beingan appropriate display topic? The topic of gun control is a controversial subject in popular culture where law makers are working to create new laws that balance the safety of the community with a citizen’s right to possess firearms.(NRA)
They are secured and provide no direct harm to patrons. Libraries should not discriminate against topics based solely on what a percentage of their population will be offended by. Antique guns are a part of history and can educate on the craftsmanship of the era in which they were created.
Accidental Deaths of Children 10 and younger in 2006 Fire or Burns Firearms 10% Related Struck by 19% Are guns that dangerous?Motor Vehicle 12% This chart illustrates that firearms accidents are not as common as Drowning the public is lead to 20% believe. Motor Vehicle Crash 39% Lott, 2010
“Banned Books Week is Public Libraries are an annual event dedicated to providing celebrating the freedom free and open access of to read. Typically held information to their during the last week of patrons, what makes September, it highlights firearms display’s the value of free and different then the open access to subjects of banned information.” (ALA) books?
Displaying firearms may offend conservative patrons as well as make patrons uncomfortable. All operational guns are potentially dangerous and should be treated as such whether loaded or unloaded. (NRA) Housing the firearms may make the library a more enticing target for theft. Display could be misconstrued as the library promoting gun ownership.
“Evidence has shown that everyday Ohios public libraries deal with theft of materials, unattended youth, behavior problems with teens, and the inappropriate use of computers by patrons. Disruptive adults, medical emergencies, dealing with the mentally ill and homeless patrons, and criminal activity such as vandalism, drug use and disputes between library users have been reported as common incidents.” (Ohio Library Council) The library should be making efforts to improve library safety as opposed to propagating it with more dangerous materials.
Libraries should be a sanctuary where patrons canaccess materials, explore their interests, and interactwith other community members without encounteringcontroversial materials. A controversial display differs from a libraryhousing ban books. Controversial books are avoidablewithin a library, however displays are meant to be seenand therefor almost unavoidable. Patrons who are fearful of guns may no longer feelsafe inside the library while the guns are present.
Banned Books Week: Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Freedom to Read http://www.ala.org/advocacy/banned/banned booksweekLott, John R. More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws, Third Edition, 2010, pp. 9-10.NRA Institute for Legal Action http://www.nraila.org/gunlawsNRA Gun Safety Rules http://www.nrahq.org/education/guide.aspOhio Library Council http://www.olc.org/librarysafetysecurity.asp