For reasons I will never understand, an 11-year-old girl showed up at a gun legislation hearing in Idaho on Monday wearing burgundy pants, a puffy gray coat and an AR-15 assault rifle, slung stylishly around her shoulder as though it were a handbag.
Accompanying the girl, whose name is Bailey Nielsen, was her grandfather, who explained to those present why visitors to the state should be allowed to carry concealed handguns within the city limits. From the AP:
“Bailey is carrying a loaded AR-15,” Charles Nielsen told lawmakers. “People live in fear, terrified of that which they do not understand. She’s been shooting since she was 5 years old. She got her first deer with this weapon at 9. She carries it responsibly. She knows how not to put her finger on the trigger. We live in fear in a society that is fed fear on a daily basis.”
I am living in fear reading this sentence! I also don’t understand what an AR-15 has to do with handgun legislation, but if Bailey and her grandfather were hoping to make a statement to lawmakers, it’s not totally clear whether it landed:
There was no notable reaction among lawmakers to the girl carrying the AR-15, and none asked Charlie Nielsen any questions after he testified. Guns are not an uncommon sight in the Statehouse when gun legislation is being debated, particularly handguns on belt holsters. Long rifles such as AR-15s also appear occasionally.
I am happy for Bailey that she has been killing deer since she was smaller than gun she is carrying, but considering scientists have termed a major spike in firearm deaths among school-aged children a literal “epidemic” the image she was attempting to create–small girl, big safe gun–didn’t translate.