I’m having a difficult time developing an honest opinion about the gun controversy gripping our country and garnering massive media attention largely because of the brutal shootings at various schools around the nation. Every time I think I know what I feel, I poke holes in the position and have to rethink it.
The most popular argument on the right is that guns don’t kill people, people do, so it would be wrong to restrict the use of firearms. My first reaction to this position was to label it as malarkey because guns are certainly used to kill people. But, say we forbid them altogether. Will that stop the killings?
Certainly not. People, whether adults or children, who possess pent-up hate caused by bullying, rejection, fear, humiliation, mental illness or anything else will always be able to find an instrument to hurt someone with, be it a knife, ax, screwdriver, car, hammer, etc. If we take away such an instrument every time it is used to take a life or injure someone, we will eventually have no more tools to work with in our jobs or lives. And, even after they have all been confiscated, those bent on doing harm will still have their hands and feet to inflict harm. So, my conclusion is that taking guns away is not the answer. But, maybe some restrictions are in order.
Friends who are hunters and gun-owners argue that restrictions like limiting the sale of certain models of guns, such as AR-15’s or AK-47’s, would not be right because they are used properly at shooting ranges where those who own them can practice. And, when they are confronted with the fact that you don’t need to practice unless you plan on using them, they counter with the argument that the need to use them would come if a bunch of thugs invade your house and those types of firearms are about the only thing that will let you defend your home. There may be some truth to that, but it is probably also true that a home invasion of that magnitude will undoubtedly involve criminals who are armed as well or better than those they attack. If that is true, no weapon will be sufficient to protect you and your home. In any event, the instances of any such invasions are few and, if one occurs, the odds of anyone having the time to retrieve such a weapon to be able to defend the home are very slim. So, having such a weapon available will not provide much assistance.
It would appear that a better course of action would be to have more thorough background checks for gun sales, refuse sales of arms to criminals and those mentally challenged, have more police presence at schools and fewer exits, and develop a system to better watch and evaluate students in school to identify any who might be sliding into a dark place where they feel that there is no way to continue without causing harm to themselves or someone else. And, parents need to be held accountable for participating in this effort as the first line of defense as well as for keeping weapons under lock and key and away from their kids.
Sure, we won’t be able to spot each and every potential shooter, and not every shooter attends a school, but it is probably the only hope we have of reducing the epidemic of shootings that we are currently experiencing. If it is impossible to rid the world of all things that can be used as weapons to harm someone, then this may be the only hope of getting this problem under some semblance of control.
One other reason proffered to explain the recent and not-so-recent shootings is that America is experiencing a “culture of violence”. Young kids watch all types of violence from games to “cartoons” of violence; teens can’t take their eyes off cell phones and tablets streaming “games” of mayhem; adults watch the most violent movies in history and scream for their favorite MMA fighters to beat their opponents’ brains out; and people of all ages drive instruments of destruction on our highways as though they were at a speedway.
Because of our Constitution’s First Amendment, we cannot legislate against people watching what they want or producing what consumers clamber for, but our churches, politicians, educators, policemen, military, leaders and bosses can certainly do a better job of presenting the case for toning down kids’ electronic viewing options, creating interesting electronic games that don’t always involve extreme violence, and educating the country that sports need not be violent to be entertaining. If we can’t do that, we might as well open up the coliseums and bring in the lions again.