Archive for February, 2018

The New American Tradition

Posted in Random Thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2018 by bigtuna185

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There is an awful tradition that has been developing in our country for the past couple of years that I wish would end. The worst part is that it’s entirely in our power to do so, but no one does anything. It’s something that we have to bring up and talk about fervently at least twice every month, yet even if it happened only once a year, it would still be too much. I have a lot of thoughts in my head as a future parent (less than a month to go), a school teacher, a God-fearing man, and as a concerned citizen. Let me start with this:

School shootings need to stop.

I think that’s something that everyone can agree on. The issue only becomes complicated when people start to discuss how they need to stop.

“We need tighter security at schools!”

“We should get rid of all guns!”

” It’s a mental health problem!”

No doubt you’ve heard arguments for all of these things, and each of them does play a part in this. Some of you may advocate for one or many of them. Let me also mention this. I’m all for 2nd Amendment rights. I get why they exist, and I think that everyone in this country has a right to own and operate a firearm, provided they are properly trained, licensed, and vetted.

What I am not for is regular citizens being able to gain access to military grade weapons (or if they aren’t, then they’re a small step below it), automatic machine guns, extended clips, stocks, and other such accessories that would indicate to me that someone is not using this for self-defense or hunting, but rather to inflict harm on someone.

In just the beginning of this year alone, there have already been 30 mass shootings (defined as a shooting where 2 or more people have been killed or injured by firearms intentionally). That isn’t a made up number. All of these statistics are readily available on http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/. Something needs to change. No 19 year old should be able to purchase an AR-15, much less a 19 year old who holds a grudge and was expelled from school. Frankly, no one needs that kind of firepower.

As a future father, I’m horrified that I can’t feel entirely safe sending my future son to school. Nothing is guaranteed anymore. As a teacher, I understand the safeguards that we try to put in place. We do lockdown drills, which essentially amounts to locking the doors of the classroom, turning off the lights, and getting the students away from the door. They tell us it’s effective because “a shooter wants to inflict as much damage as possible, and a locked door will only slow him/her down,” but it’s really used for the same purpose that kids in the 50s were told to hide under their desks in the event of a nuclear strike. It won’t really save you, but at least it’s better than doing nothing.

Security at schools vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. A low-income area might see metal detectors and police officers regularly at the entrance of a school, whereas a more affluent area will have employees of the school buzz visitors in the front door and make them sign in before having access to anything further. In most cases, if someone wants to come in and do some damage, we’re really powerless to stop it anyway. But should we really ramp up our security at schools? Won’t that just escalate the situation further? Or will it really be a deterrent to any delinquents thinking of making terrible decision?

We won’t know until we try. That’s the big thing though. We haven’t really tried much else. We’ll mourn the deaths of those that we lost after a major school shooting, listen to the rabble go back and forth blaming the wrong things and the wrong people, nothing will happen legislation-wise, and then we’ll repeat the cycle a month later and still be shocked how nothing has changed. This is the only country where this happens regularly. I’ll repeat that for those of you clutching your precious guns as though they were more important than your family.

THIS IS THE ONLY COUNTRY WHERE THIS HAPPENS REGULARLY.

For place that spends 57% of its budget on military expenditures, we do a pretty poor job of policing ourselves and making sure our own people aren’t taking out each other. But therein lies another problem. People will cry “mental health,” which it is sometimes, but what about the rest of the time? Could it be linked to terrorism? Is it white supremacy on the rise? Both solid thoughts, but I think it goes beyond that.

I mentioned that I’m going to be a dad next month. I think that the biggest deterrent to all of this is good parenting and just being there for your kids. Granted, I understand that you can’t control everything that your kids will end up doing, but a little care and attention goes a long way. I would never dream of the day that I failed that much in instilling the right morals and values in my son, to the point where he thought that it would be okay to seek revenge by taking 17 lives. Imagine where the shooter would be if a parent had reached out to him, taken an interest in his thoughts, his feelings. It should never have gotten to that point. I get that this isn’t a real deterrent, but it’s a great preemptive strike to nip whatever  COULD happen in the bud before it escalated this far. Be involved in what your kids are doing. Don’t just throw up your hands in frustration and get angry because you don’t understand what they like. Take an interest. It’s a small price to pay honestly.

I want to hope that something is done about this. I don’t believe a ban on guns is constitutional, but I also don’t believe that people should just be able to purchase guns with that much killing power so easily. It doesn’t help that most of the politicians that have the power to change this are also funded by the NRA. That feels like it should be illegal; the people that can affect gun violence in this country are paid millions of dollars by the organization that would be directly affected by legislation regulating it further. And don’t even get me started on this: https://nypost.com/2018/02/15/trump-repealed-rule-to-block-mentally-ill-people-from-buying-guns/

Let’s not make this a politics issue. Let’s make this a safety issue. Action NEEDS to be taken. It’s clear that what we have already been doing does not work. The worst case scenario is that less people have guns in the world, albeit people who shouldn’t have access to guns in the first place, and is that really a bad thing?

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