The recent shooting in Newtown, CT has prompted many to take sides on the place of guns in our culture. Unfortunately the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary cannot be undone and appears to be more than an issue of gun control. Yet, the attack was so violent and struck an emotional nerve with us that it has us demanding answers and searching for new levels of security. Since the attack was perpetrated by a man wielding guns, the problem has become a gun problem issue.
In an effort to reveal my biases let me state clearly that I do not own a gun, I am a victim of violence at the end of a gun, and I am a supporter of gun ownership. Of those three, the most startling for most people is the fact that I am a victim of violence at the end of a gun. When I was eight years old, my mother was murdered by her ex-boyfriend who then committed suicide. The act of violence occurred in the parking lot of our apartment complex while my brother and I waited inside.
Guns are designed to have a fatal effect, whether the gun is used for hunting, war, or self-protection. A gun is not a tool to intimidate, it is designed to kill. Too many underestimate the power of a gun and for that reason I am grateful for those who help properly educate others on proper use of a gun.
As the demand for justice and security have driven the discussion on the place of guns in our culture, the average person is being taken advantage of emotionally. Political leaders, retailers, media personalities, bloggers, lobby groups, and the like are taking advantage of the situation for their own benefit.
Recently, the National Rifle Association (NRA) proposed the posting of an armed security guard at each of our campuses across the United States. Their reasoning is sensible, if we post armed guards at our nations most important assets, shouldn’t our children be on that list. Emotionally, they are right. Our children are our most important asset. Yet, I disagree with their suggestion for following reasons.
School shooting are horrific when they occur, but they are rare, especially when you consider how many campuses there are across the country and how many guns there are.
In a day when everyone seems to be concerned about government spending proposing adding at least one person per campus to serve as an armed guard is a significant expense. If the salary for that person were $45,000/year that would add over $1M to the budget of ECISD just to post a guard at each of our 26 Elementary Schools. Some might propose that we could avoid the cost by allowing for volunteers to serve as armed guards. The average school cannot get a volunteer to read to a student or supervise during recess. Where are the armed security volunteers going to come from?
Our schools need to be a place where children and teens feel safe and are allowed to be innocent. For some, the presence of an armed guard could spoil that sense of safety and innocence. Our schools have enough obstacles before them concerning their reputations. Metal detectors, armed guards, bullet proof glass, electronic check in procedures and other advanced security measures make a school look like a prison instead of a place of learning, wonder, or discovery.
Asking a teacher to carry a concealed weapon is just as problematic. It would place the teacher in a position where she or he would have to think about one more thing while trying to teach, inspire, and correct the 20+ students in the classroom. Additionally, how do we respond if the teacher is assaulted and the gun is stolen?
Again, I understand the sentiment of those looking to address our need for justice and security, but I disagree with the solution presented.
I also disagree with the side that feels as though we must outlaw guns. Various levels of prohibitions against certain guns has shown us that this does not work. Chicago and Washington DC are both examples of cities with strong prohibitions, but both have a major gun violence problem.
The solution is probably in personal responsibility and civil diligence. If you own a gun, keep it secured at all times. I’m not proposing a gun-lock, but I am suggesting we should lock up our guns that we are not using. An unsecured gun is a dangerous thing. Additionally, we need to be diligent about keeping these fatal effect tools out of the hands of those who lack the maturity or respect to properly use a gun. Sandy Hook Elementary appears to be a victim of a man who gained access to guns that were not his own, nor was he mature enough to properly use them.
I understand the fascination with guns. As a child I found them remarkably cool. Yet, I also understand the powerful effect of guns. As a child I had my mother taken away by the use of a gun. Quite simply, we should realize that a gun is a tool with fatal effect. Therefore, we should take it upon ourselves to be responsible with our guns. Personal responsibility says “I know I can, but should I?” I recently heard there were more than 300 million guns in America. Do we really need at least one gun for every person in America? Certainly, some are collector items or heirlooms. Some are used for meaningful purposes like hunting. Certain ones are useful for personal protection. Some are just cool. But at what point do you and I say, “enough is enough, I don’t need another gun.”
The solution to guns in our society is not found in laws or more armed guards. It seems to me the solution is found in personal responsibility and civil diligence. Through this justice and security will be possible, especially as we look out for one another, rather than just ourselves. Oh, forget about the zombies, stop believing the conspiracies, and start trusting people again.