If there’s anything to remember about who owns guns in the U.S., it’s often the people who would most surprise you: the beauty queen, the schoolteacher, the nurse, the little old lady down the street.
As the weirdly twisted tale of Amy Bishop continues to unfold, part of the narrative some clearly find perplexing is her age, gender, professional status and education. Women like her don’t kill, don’t own or carry handguns.
Reports today’s New York Times:
On Friday, this city of rocket scientists and brainy inventors was stunned when a neuroscientist with a Harvard Ph.D. was arrested in the shooting deaths of three of her colleagues after she was denied tenure.
But that was only the first surprise in the tale of the neuroscientist, Amy Bishop, who was regarded as fiercely intelligent and had seemed to have a promising career in biotechnology. Every day since has produced a new revelation from Dr. Bishop’s past, each more bizarre than the last.
On Saturday, the police in Braintree, Mass., said that she had fatally shot her brother in 1986 and questioned whether the decision to dismiss the case as an accident had been the right one.
On Sunday, a law enforcement official in Boston said she and her husband, James Anderson, had been questioned in a 1993 case in which a pipe bomb was sent to a colleague of Dr. Bishop’s at Children’s Hospital Boston.
The bomb did not go off, no one was ever charged in the case, and no proof ever emerged connecting the couple to the bomb plot.
You can feel the crimson robes shuddering — a Harvard woman? Another Harvard-educated woman, lawyer Sandra Froman, served as the National Rifle Association’s president — an unpaid position — for two terms, the maximum allowed.
It’s often assumed that anyone with the smarts and skills to crack the Ivy League has no interest in the workings of a rifle, pistol or shotgun. Not true. Guns, often linked only and exclusively with murder and mayhem, are found in 30 percent of American homes. Thousands are fired every day in the U.S. by recreational shooters, hunters, target shooters, even kids and teens in 4-H programs, without incident or malice.
Yet the fantasy persists that only Bubbas want to use or own one. An Ivy-educated woman, a professor, a mother of four, shoots and kills? It’s rare. It’s scary. It’s especially confusing if you still believe that smart, highly educated professional women don’t handle firearms, some of them with skill.
As more details emerge about Bishop and her past, I’ll be curious to hear when, how and where a handgun started to look like her best and only option.