Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Those Dangerous Public Libraries

It’s always a little surreal and amusing for me when outsiders stumble onto the blog and decide they’re going to set the record straight for the poor, ignorant Annoyed Librarian.

A while ago it was the homeschooling creationists who homeschooled their children to keep them from learning any science later than the Middle Ages.

Last week it was the earnest evangelicals who actually believed The Hiding Place was “banned” at a library, and who were astonished that I’d never read this beloved classic, and who wanted to share the love of Jesus with me.

This week, it might be the gun nuts. We’ll see.

Before we begin, it’s important to know who the gun nuts are. Because of the craziness of some of them, some people think anyone with a gun must be a nut. However, the vast majority of gun owners who hunt or shoot skeet or target shoot are unfairly represented by the nuts who show up to political rallies with machine guns assault rifles on their back.

The gun nuts are the ones who are obsessed with guns. They fantasize about them, devote their lives to them, and want to carry them everywhere. They’re gun fetishists, and fetishists are always a little creepy and a little crazy. It would be exactly the same if the object were a teapot or a toaster.

Even they sometimes seem to realize that if they just come out and say this, everyone will know them for the crazy people they are, so while fondling their guns obsessively they like to prattle on about the second amendment or their right to self-protection.

And if any outside gun nuts try to bombard the comment section trying to educate everyone on the second amendment, I’ll approve the comment if you can prove you’re a Constitutional lawyer.

Guns and libraries are in the news again. A few years ago it was Michigan, if I remember correctly. Now it’s Colorado, where the local gun nuts, I mean rights, group threatened to sue a library if they didn’t eliminate their “no guns” policy after the director asked a gun-toting patron to leave. The library reluctantly changed its policy.

The gun nuts claimed that the policy violated Colorado’s “concealed carry” law, which it did because it specifically banned concealed weapons.

The interesting thing about the incident, though, is that the weapon wasn’t actually concealed, because it was spotted by a worried patron who then informed a librarian. If I can see your pistol, it’s not concealed.

In a different article, the library director is quoted as saying, “Once a weapon is visible, it’s no longer concealed, and we would be within our rights to ask them to please leave; but the board needs to decide on language of the policy.” Policies can be tricky things.

That article at the pro-gun website casts the local gun nuts, I mean rights, group as bold heroes. Supposedly, they “took up the mother’s cause and make the Clearview Library District aware of Colorado law, which prohibited the district from regulating the carry of firearms.”

Took up the mother’s cause! She’s a mother! She has rights!

What that article didn’t report, but which was reported by a different article in August, is that the oppressed mother is actually an employee of the gun nuts, I mean rights, group. It almost makes one wonder if they sent her into the library on purpose.

Nothing has happened yet. “The library hasn’t had anyone test the new policy or any other situations involving guns, except for one day last month when a man made eight harassing phone calls to the Windsor Severance Library that at one point forced the building to be locked down,” because gun nuts.

Most gun owners I suspect are sensible enough not to want crazy people carrying guns around. Bad things tend to happen. The Colorado gun nuts, I mean rights, group is aware of this, too. They know bad things can happen in public when crazy people have guns.

“Criminal safe zones are target-rich zones, leaving our children and loved ones vulnerable to those with malicious intent,” said the executive director of the gun nuts, I mean rights, group.

In one of the other articles the group was quoted as saying “We firmly believe library patrons, exercising their inalienable right to protect themselves, are not disruptive to the library environment.”

We might ask whether a substantial amount of paranoia makes one a crazy person. I’m suggesting it does. Even if not, plenty of people consider extremely paranoid people to be some sort of crazy and possibly dangerous.

Thinking of public libraries as “target-rich zones” sounds paranoid to me. I tried to find some statistics on crime in public libraries. The only thing I found (with a quick search) was this piece talking about how crime had risen dramatically in the Bloomington, IN public library. Since Bloomington, IN isn’t in Colorado, that’s not relevant, though.

Weird or unpleasant things do happen in public libraries frequently, but not the sorts of things anyone should respond to with a gun. Shooting a creepy guy masturbating at a public computer makes you a criminal.

Shooting noisy teenagers hanging out in the teen space because they’re loud makes you a criminal, unless maybe they’re black and you’re in Florida, but definitely in most places.

So, with some exceptions, if you feel so unsafe that you can’t go into your local public library without a gun to exercise you inalienable right to protect yourself, you’re excessively paranoid.

The exceptions mostly have to do with other circumstances in your life. If you’re being harassed or stalked by someone and are in fear of your life wherever you go, then it might make sense.

But if you’re not being stalked or anything and you carry your gun into the public library because you think of it as a “target rich environment,” then you’re paranoid. Your view of the world is twisted somehow.

From the standpoint of everyone else, there’s not a person exercising a right of self-protection, there’s an extremely paranoid person in the library carrying a gun. It’s not the gun itself that would make people think you’re crazy, it’s the worldview that’s motivating you to carry the gun into the library.

So the people who can’t go into a public library without carrying their guns are either a) gun fetishists, and thus crazy, or 2) suffering from extreme paranoia, and thus crazy.

And that, gun nuts, is why people don’t want you carrying guns in their public libraries. You see the public library as a dangerous place, and everyone else agrees, at least when you’re there.


Please note that new comments for all posts on this blog have been closed.


  1. Interesting, by your own definition, there are no “gun nuts” (since there have never been any person carrying “machine guns” to political rallies). One caveat to that, since the only ones allowed to own and carry machine guns are the police and military, there could have been some. Of course, that means only Law Enforcement and Military are “gun nuts”.

  2. Annoyed Librarian says:

    Excellent point. Post amended.

  3. David Karasek says:

    The book nuts are the ones who are obsessed with books. They fantasize about them, devote their lives to them, and want to carry them everywhere. They’re book fetishists, and fetishists are always a little creepy and a little crazy.

  4. you think gun nuts are obsessed? fondling and carrying their guns everywhere? you should really be afraid of the cell phone nuts. I mean they are absolutely EVERYWHERE, and to hear them demand their right to have one, it’s insanity.

  5. Re: “So the people who can’t go into a public library without carrying their guns are either a) gun fetishists, and thus crazy, or 2) suffering from extreme paranoia, and thus crazy”

    And how do you reach this conclusion? There are approximately 11 million civilians with concealed carry permits. Have you interviewed all of them?

    Re: “show up to political rallies with machine guns on their back.”

    I assume you’re a librarian that deals in facts. You might want to review the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Hughes Amendment to the 1986 Gun Control Act. Both of these laws put severe restrictions on the civilian ownership of machine guns. In a nutshell, the civilian ownership of machine guns is heavily regulated by the federal government, the supply is limited, and they sell for several thousand dollars so I doubt anyone is brandishing one at a rally.

    Re: “We might ask whether a substantial amount of paranoia makes one a crazy person”

    You seem to overuse the words crazy, paranoia and paranoid when referring to gun owners. You might want to re-read your article and ask yourself if you are not exhibiting similar symptoms regarding what appears to be your fear of guns.

    Re: “policy violated Colorado’s “concealed carry” law, which it did because it specifically banned concealed weapons”.

    The library is a public building funded with taxpayer dollars. If they want to ban guns inside the library, under Colorado law all they have to do is install metal detectors at all the entrances.

    Re: “The interesting thing about the incident, though, is that the weapon wasn’t actually concealed, because it was spotted by a worried patron who then informed a librarian.”

    And this is precisely why I support laws permitting the open carry of firearms even though I personally think the practice is a bad idea. It’s unfortunate there are enough anti-gun zealots around who look for any opportunity to challenge or embarrass a licensed concealed carry gun owner when they accidentally expose the firearm by bending over or snagging a coat, etc. and this is the only way I see to remove the ambiguity of what’s defined as concealed. The reality is licensed concealed carry holders are not a problem as everyone of them knows shooting someone is a last resort because every bullet has a lawyer attached to it.

    Re: “Thinking of public libraries as “target-rich zones” sounds paranoid to me”

    Maybe not – but the next place I may be going after a library visit might not be as friendly and leaving a firearm in a car while you go into a gun free building is not my favorite activity. Every time you take a gun out of a holster and re-insert it there is a risk of an accident if you are inattentive. In addition cars do get stolen or broken into and the last thing I want is for my firearm to wind up in some criminal’s hands.

    Re: “I mean rights, group. It almost makes one wonder if they sent her into the library on purpose.”

    And what if they did. The point is the library being a taxpayer funded public institution was violating Colorado’s concealed carry law.

    Re: “it’s the worldview that’s motivating you to carry the gun into the library”

    Our country is made up of several different people with different beliefs (homeschoolers, creationists, evangelicals, gun owners, etc) and we are constantly being told to accept the diversity among these individuals. Here is your chance to shine.

    Re: “bad things can happen in public when crazy people have guns”

    In 2010 there were 8775 people murdered by firearms in the US which works out to about 24 people per day. These are the “word doctored” figures the news media and anti-gun folks like to publicize because people relate to the magnitude of those numbers and it sounds like a lot of people until you realize this is out of a population of 310 million Americans. In that context, it works out to about 1 person out of every 35,000 people being murdered by a firearm. Dwell on the magnitude of your individual significance next time you are in a stadium with 35,000 people. If 1 in 35,000 is too high what number would ever satisfy you?

  6. Hmm, intolerant, bigoted, hateful, derogatory comments about those people AnnoyedLiibrarian doesn’t agree with about their cultural choices.

    So I thought only the fundamentalist Christians were supposed to be like this. I have heard about this progressive/liberal idea of “multiculturalism”. The idea that a person, (as long as what they are doing is legal and supported by the law) even if what they believe and act is different than another persons beliefs and actions, that the “enlightened” person doesn’t judge those people for their “cultural” choices.

    Or am I wrong? Or does being “multicultural” mean something else?

  7. You obviously don’t read well. As one who defended “The Hiding Place” I don’t fit your definition at all, nor did many others. I am not evangelical in any way, let alone earnestly I just noticed that you didn’t bother to really understand the book at all. Secondly, I never believed it was really banned. I, and the others, merely pointed out that you were doing what librarians usually scold others for doing: judging a book with no real knowledge of what is in it. And I’m not an outsider, whatever that means.

  8. BTW, you are right about the guns issue.

  9. The Librarian With No Name says:

    Kansas changed their laws earlier this year to require public places like libraries to have metal detectors and security guards if they want to ban guns on the premises. It’s that “target-rich” environment mentality you noted above. Since I expect lawmakers here in Oklahoma to latch right onto that idea, I’m getting ready to deploy my “Please use silencers in the library” posters.

    The most cogent argument that I’ve ever heard against this sort of ban goes like this: if open carry is legal in your community, but illegal in the library, then people who commonly carry guns are likely to leave them in their cars to come into the library. People don’t often get shot in libraries, but people get their cars broken into in parking lots all the time. A legally registered firearm is more likely to kill its owner or members of his household than anyone else, but a STOLEN firearm is liable to show up in all kinds of interesting places.

    Conclusion: banning guns in libraries increases gun crime outside of libraries.

    I’m not saying that this argument might not highlight some larger issues, but it makes more sense than what Kansas is saying.

  10. Zero.

  11. @Matt Re: “zero”

    Exactly – and that’s why gun owners see no value in compromise or “common sense solutions” because no matter how many concessions we make like we did in 1934, 1968, 1986, 1990, 1993 and 1994 when more restrictive gun laws were passed, it will never be enough. In addition, criminals will always have guns if they want them. If all guns in America were banned and confiscated, they would then be smuggled into the US from Mexico inside a bale of marijuana and sold on the black market. The other problem you have is that in 2010 (for example) there were 725000 violent criminal types in state prisons and 15000 in federal prisons. This works out to a total of 740000 or about 0.238% of the US population which means that about 1 out of every 420 people in the US that have been caught have no qualms about ignoring whatever laws you pass and killing or injuring someone and the gun is often their weapon of choice. So the bottom line is (1) The human race produces a few bad individuals prone to violence who just refuse to play by whatever rules you promulgate and until you find some way to identify these individuals and the courage to permanently eliminate them from society, innocent people are going to be killed (2) Because of these bad individuals, bad things happen every day to people who through no fault of their own were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  12. Annoyed Librarian says:

    Matt, there was no need for me to understand the book. It was irrelevant to the post. And while you may not have been one of those people who believed that implausible ban and were sharing the love of Jesus with me, some were, and I assume they weren’t librarians because librarians would tend to do neither of those things in the comments.

  13. Annoyed Librarian says:

    If you have merely “heard of” something rather than researched it, read books, talked to experts, etc., then there is a definite possibility that you’re wrong about whatever that thing is. Fortunately, the means for your self education is as close as the nearest public library.

  14. I miss the previous AL; the one who didn’t argue with people in the comments. And who had a less obvious political bias.

    Finally, to follow up on your response to Matt, above — in Thursday’s post, you made many assertions about the content of The Hiding Place. Therefore, there absolutely is a need for you to understand the book, and your comments made the content of the book completely relevant to the post.

    If you are going to make assertions about a book you have never read… how can you possibly be surprised, or think it is irrelevant, when people take the time to inform you about what the book does say?

    And your decision to then mischaracterize and misrepresent the motivations of the people who took the time to enlighten you…. baffling. As Matt points out, many of the responders specifically stated they were NOT evangelical.

    If this keeps up, I’m afraid I might have to give up reading what used to be an entertaining and enlightening column.

  15. The amended post now reads that it’s not “machine guns” being carried at rallies, but “assault rifles”. Which is also incorrect.

    “Assault rifle” is a very specific term – it denotes a rifle that
    1. Fires an intermediate cartridge;
    2. Has select-fire capability.
    After the wholly inappropriately named Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986 (commonly referred to as the Hughes Amendment to the GCA of ’68) closed the registry to new weapons with automatic-fire capability, civilians have been unable to purchase any newly manufactured “assault rifles” (or actual “machine guns”, for that matter).
    The current reserved supply of actual select-fire capable rifles, machine guns, and submachine guns was set at a fixed number in 1986, and has been dwindling ever since.
    The entry price into legally acquiring and owning one of those weapons, at the low end, is in the tens of thousands of dollars – several thousands of which are strictly application/regulation fees and/or taxes – far outside the spending range of the average John or Jane America.

    If, what the author means by “assault rifles” is the wholly invented and completely manufactured term “assault weapon” (a quick search for the terms “Josh Sugarmann”+”assault weapon” will reveal the duplicity involved), well, we can all easily see who he gets his information from and treat it accordingly.

  16. You are so RIGHT!
    Especially when you consider how many more people in the US have been killed by people with cell phones, than have been killed by people carrying slung long guns. ( My cousin was killed in Florida by a cell phone nut, while NO ONE in the last 100 years has been killed by folks carrying slung long guns..)

  17. I think people masturbating patrons at public terminals should be shot. And if those crazy-assed sub human ISIS turds start beheading anyone they can get hold of in Western countries, I’d love to see one or two of them given to opportunity to see if there really are 72 virgins waiting for them.

  18. Lincoln Lyceum says:

    Guns and public libraries. Now here’s a topic that doesn’t get enough play in the library media. Colorado is a “conceal and carry” state, it’s the law. I’m not a lawyer, but I think I remember reading somewhere that state law trumps library policy.

  19. I believe I’m unlikely to be attacked most places I go. The trouble is, each attack was, for the victim and unlikely event — until it happened.

    The only way a seat belt can protect me in a collision is if I wear it habitually when in the car. The only way people can have a fire extinguisher handy when a kitchen fire breaks out is to keep it in the kitchen even though we don’t expect to have a kitchen fire. The only way to have a reasonably good likelihood that an undeterred armed robber will be shot down by his intended victim is for lots and lots of people to carry guns habitually. (That, and to deter those who can be deterred.)

    Anyway, that’s why we carry guns. Not because we think we’re at all likely to need it on any given day or at any given place, but because we simply cannot predict when, where or to whom it will happen — and we don’t want it to happen to anyone, anytime or any place..

  20. I have to admit, I’m a bit paranoid about libraries. I’d love to know how LoC cataloguing puts every book I’m interested in on the bottom shelf. I also realize I need to be a bit more careful in libraries, given narrow aisles, hunching over to read titles sideways, and the aforementioned squatting to get to the shelf I want.
    So if I goof (we call it flashing) feel free to call me on it. Statistically, men with concealed handgun licensees are less likely to do something that will get them arrested, than women who don’t have licenses. (
    But other than that, I carry in libraries because I carry everywhere. You see, I’ve been teaching shooting for thirty years now, and I’ve also spent many years working with survivors of rape and other violence. I’ve heard thousands of stories. Almost all of them start out, “It was a routine situation, in a routine location, at a routine time, when stuff hit the fan and I (had to)/(was unable to) defend myself.”
    So agree with your assessment; a library is not a threatening place. Just like all the other non-threatening places where people get attacked.

  21. Only a gun nut could compare themselves to a cultural, religious, or racial minority and think it’s an apt description. You may worship your guns but that doesn’t make it a religion.

  22. I don’t. This is way more interesting. #notallmes

  23. So annoyed librarian; you avoid the question and continue with your derogatory and demeaning comments in a couple of paragraphs.

    The idea of “multiculturalism” really is a myth. If the belief system of a particular group of people doesn’t fit in a very narrow spectrum; then you are free to demean, insult and dehumanize those people; american gun owners as an example. “Me says” is another good example of this hypocrisy.

    “Multiculturalism” is simply another belief system that is just as hateful, bigoted, intolerant and dehumanizing of those that don’t fit within it’s narrow parameters as any white supremacist.

  24. You made comments directly about the book. That makes it relevant. If it was irrelevant you wouldn’t have bothered to do that. That’s like someone saying coal isn’t a pollutant and then spending the rest of the article discussing something else. Can we not address that comment because it wasn’t the main theme of the article? Is it irrelevant? No and of course we can.

  25. Weird comment. I thought masturbating in the library was bad. Now there’s people masturbating other patrons?

  26. Todd Beckett says:

    Annoyed, it’s hard to understand why correcting your deficient understanding of the “The Hiding Place” and Corrie ten Boom is “irrelevant” when you went out of your way to make snarky and, as it happens, ignorant comments about them. If you don’t want to be bothered with irrelevant responses, then why provoke them like this?

    However, the fact is you really do have to understand the nature and content of “The Hiding Place” in order to understand what did or did not happen in this story. The PJI’s allegation is that the Springs Charter Schools removed “The Hiding Place” because it was religious in nature. Springs Charter Schools responded that: “We are a public school, and as such, we are barred by law from purchasing sectarian curriculum materials with State funds. We only keep on our shelves the books that we are authorized to purchase with public funds.”

    Therefore, understanding the nature and content of “The Hiding Place” becomes relevant for determining whether it meets the definition of “sectarian curriculum materials”. This then helps us to understand if the allegations of censorship are accurate, etc. So you do have to understand the book to understand the case.

  27. This entire comment thread is strange, even for the Annoyed Librarian.

    ThomasR, you’re the only one talking about multiculturalism. Has the AL ever claimed to be a multiculturalist? I’ve been reading this blog off and on for years, and I’ve seen no evidence of it. (And, by the way, you are wrong in your definition of multiculturalism. What you seem to be defining is relativism.) So you’re attributing to the AL a belief in an ideology based on no evidence at all, and then you’re criticizing the AL for not adhering to that ideology. You might think you’ve scored a point, but all you done is demonstrate your obsession with multiculturalism.

  28. Oh, dear. AL says, “From the standpoint of everyone else, there’s not a person exercising a right of self-protection, there’s an extremely paranoid person in the library carrying a gun.”
    And exactly how did you come to the conclusion that this was the standpoint of “everyone else?” Did you use public funds to conduct a survey? Did you personally ask “everyone else” how they perceived the person with the gun? You certainly didn’t ask me. Or could it be that you projected your own feelings and opinions onto “everyone else?” Be careful with your claims, AL. You are letting your bias trump your intellect. You refuse to even entertain the idea that you may actually be safer when a legally carried weapon is present, preferring instead to call law-abiding citizens “nuts.” You say the gun “nuts” are just those who are “obsessed” with guns and “devote their lives to them” (really?), but I believe the rest of your post gathers anyone who would exercise their right to legally carry their gun into a public library under that “nuts” umbrella of yours. You do sprinkle your “gun nuts” term around quite liberally. So, AL, Perhaps you should settle down and try to think a little more rationally before making such claims. Credibility, once lost, is hard to earn back. (And you are so darn predictable.)

  29. dan cawley says:

    does your library own this book?

  30. “people masturbating patrons at public terminals”

    Now that’s a public service I can get behind.

  31. I see what you did there! =)

    True, very very true. Fetish anything = creepy. To varying degrees.

  32. We don’t allow guns in my library. We’re Australians. I’m glad about it myself. Some patrons are threatening tools, and at a recent safety training the direction we were given is that female staff should get a male staff member if threatened. My statement that I wasn’t anyone’s bodyguard, and that this treats the safety of male staff members as being of less value than that of female staff went down like a lead balloon. I can only imagine how much worse it would be if our patrons were allowed to carry guns. I presume our security assistants (library assistants with security training) would also have guns? Is that how this would work?

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