Friday, August 26, 2011

Safety For The Rich

Dan Waters is a snarky 22 year old queer biracial wonderment who is part White, Portuguese, and Native American (Wampanoag-Kiowa). He currently lives in Massachusetts, and plans to become a Lawyer. That is, if he can survive Algonquin language classes and polyamorous dating right now! He also identifies as Two Spirit, and prefers male pronouns, but cherishes his female body that he was given graciously by the Creator. He blogs at Identity Exposure.

So my upcoming adventure to University and campus dorming, I have been concerned about safety. As per usual, I like to be prepared. For basic things like bandaids, Tylenol (even generic), anti-bacterial ointment, eye drops, and my Epi-Pen; the costs were racking up. I did get into some money from my grandparents which afforded me to update my CPR/AED and First Aid certifications to make me more applicable for certain workstudy positions on campus. The classes together cost $100 themselves, and while beneficial the cost is excruciatingly high for nothing more than a video session and a paper test and a non-laminated card.

In my pursuit of safety, my father suggested mace. So when I started looking around, I found out that mace and pepperspray cannot be mailed to Massachusetts. When I asked a friend if knife shops carried mace products, he explained you actually have to register for a Firearms Identification Card! Firearms? Really? Even though mace has left people possibly blind, I am pretty sure they are left breathing at the scene while a gun certainly wouldn’t. The applications were available at police stations. Okay, I said. I’ll go.

So I went to the nearest one to me, and they said I had to go to the MAIN police office down near my old high school is, on the other side of town. Great. Thankfully my mother had a car and a quarter tank of gas, because bus fare would have been up to 5 bucks to and back. So not only did I have to get the application, I thought I would be able to do it today and get it done. Instead, I have to fill it out and call to make an appointment. So that would have been 10 bucks down the drain, and another subsequent 10 dollars the day of the appointment.

Listen to the things on the checklist for this application:

Fingerprint and Photos will be taken at the police department – great, so I am getting fingerprinted. Does that mean I go in the database that criminals and “criminals” get put in? Photo ID isn’t enough?

License Fee is $25 for the Restricted – Firearms Identification Card, which is the Mace/Pepperspray one. $100 is for any other type.  - $25 for a card? And there is also the price of the mace can/pocket thing itself, which online shows it going up to $15.

Proof of Citizenship – Well, copies of my birth certificate from town hall can cost up to $15 bucks a pop last time I checked. Also, because I am transgender and had my name changed, I’d have to get a copy of my legislation paper proving the name change. If I lost my original copy, another $15 bucks and two weeks of waiting.

Proof of Residency with bank statements, utility bills, etc. – Funny, I already had to do this shit with a state ID, so wouldn’t the fact I have a state ID prove that I have already done these necessary things and thus all these things are null and void? Also, since I’ve been going paperless to cut the cost of printed statements, I’d have to be wasting ink typically used for term papers on a friggin’ bank statement.

Identification with a valid Massachusetts ID or Driver’s License – Oh, so NOW we have the ID.

Firearms Safety Course – It is unclear, from what is written, if the appointment I am indeed making is for the course or I am supposed to set this up on my own and THEN come with proof of my course at the appointment.  Here is what is written verbatim: “First time LTC or FID applicants are required to attend a State Certified Massachusetts Hunter Safety and/or Massachusetts State Police Basic Firearms Safety course. A certificate from either course will be required on the date of your appointment. This does not apply for renewal candidates.” I’ve been on Rifle Team in ROTC. I know how it goes; safety on, safety off, don’t point the muzzle at the face; keep it positioned down, etc. IF it is indeed needed on a separate day from your appointment, that is ANOTHER 10 dollars if the location is within the same zone as the police station.

Letter to Police Chief – So on top of all this bullshit, if you are applying for something OTHER than reasons of hunting or target practice (i.e: something other would be carrying mace on campus), I have to send a fucking letter to a pig in blue in some hoity toity office and explain “Yeah, I am afraid of getting raped. Can I please have my mace now?” That’s $0.44 for the stamp, and ink and paper is probably, I’ll say, a dollar. I’m being generous there. If I didn’t have a printer and ink at home, it’d be 10 cents at the nearest library and another $10 to get there.

$10 for two way trip, for two days is $20 dollars. Plus $25 for the licensing fee and card. $15 dollars for the mace itself.  If I didn’t have a printer and ink and had to use the library, it’d cost $10 [for the trip] and 10cents for the printing. Then 44cents for the stamp and a buck for the envelope and we get…

A whopping $56.54. Just for this little itty piece of safety. People suggest taking Rape Aggression Defense classes, because it’s “non-lethal and you don’t need mace!” but they too are expensive and NOT FREE. Even at my campus, after having paid thousands of dollars in college fees, I’d have to pay $25 for a class in the middle of the rec center that is far away from my dorm room in the middle of the NIGHT! The class runs from 6-9PM, which is funny because part of the leaflets they give out to women at the rape center on campus is to not be alone at night. Irony, irony.

Here’s the thing: mace isn’t a firearm. It is nonlethal. Dangerous if misused, but doesn’t need this rig amoral. Clearly, the poor who are more at risk of danger do not get the opportunity to defend themselves. According to some campus press releases, the fact that the victim carried mace illegally is subsequently used against them and can face criminal charges and fines. This is just a way to do two things: keep safety limited to a select few citizens, and to blame the victim.