The New American Tradition

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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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10 Responses to “The New American Tradition”

  1. Get over it. Worrying much at all about that is like worrying about getting killed inside America by a Muslim terrorist. It’s “sensational” but statistically so improbable as to be ignorable.

    • Sorry, but did you just say “get over it” to children getting gunned down in a school? Just wanted to give you a chance to rethink what you said before I actually respond to this.

      • Not exactly. I said “get over it” to any irrational fear of it happening to your kid. Take a close look at the actual odds. There’s a nigh on infinitesimal chance that your kid will be involved in one, the same as being involved in a terrorist incident…which we’re told and told and told by the same sorts who want strict gun control is irrational to fear.

        Also, the problem isn’t the access to firearms. It’s something else. Don’t focus on treating the symptoms, especially when doing so infringes upon the rights and privileges that are honored and cherished by many 10s of millions of citizens who aren’t involved in this at all.

        What you want is in some ways like what those who want school segregation to be restored. They believe, with some justification, that the non-White students are dragging down the White ones and damaging their educations. Like most forms of stricter gun control, that’s just penalizing the non-problematical majority for the actions of few individuals.

      • Alright, well first, I would imagine that you aren’t a parent or expecting a child, and if you were you might understand that irrational fears are an everyday thing. I’m not even a Dad yet and I understand that. And just because something isn’t statistically likely to happen, doesn’t mean it won’t. I never thought I would live to see a house burn down, but my dad’s did this past summer, through no discernible cause. Being afraid doesn’t mean you’re weak; it means that you’re aware of danger and take steps to prevent your fears from becoming reality.

        If you also read most of my post, I never said all guns should be taken away. I very much believe in the 2nd amendment and that citizens should have a right to arm themselves. However, when those arms’ primary purpose is to kill other humans and not for any other reason, that’s where I draw the line. No ordinary civilian should possess an AR-15. It isn’t practical, and it’s far too dangerous in the wrong hands, as clearly indicated by the wave of school and mass shootings in recent history. A large amount of the blame I place on parents who should have been there for their kids, and that good guidance and direction can be a great way to stem the tide of wayward behavior in children.

        Comparing school segregation and a little bit stricter laws when it comes to guns is just straight up ignorant. One is racist, vile, reprehensible, and never excusable whereas the other makes things safer for EVERYONE and does very little to inconvenience a small population of people comparatively. This wouldn’t be the first instance of a dangerous minority affecting the livelihood of the greater majority, but I would argue that if it’s children’s safety on the line, I’ll gladly pay the price.

  2. My eldest is 33. I remember the irrational fears. I also remember that they were irrational. Then, I also remember teaching her to shoot and to actually fight efficiently, effectively, and brutally in order to defend herself and/or others.

    You’ve also got a problem with your view of guns. The criteria you used to define the “bad ones” applies to every sort except some hunting rifles and some shotgun., not just AR-15s and similar semi-auto rifles and carbines.

    I’ll give you this though, the AR-15 isn’t practical for most people, and I’ll throw in that it’s a money hog too with the way it goes through ammo for most people. I don’t particularly like the weapon and don’t understand its growing popularity.

    As for segregation vs gun control. Put aside you subjective value judgements (racist, vile, reprehensible, and never excusable aren’t arguments; they’re emotional schlock, though I agree with them) and look at the rationale and the effects of the two things. They’re both protecting one set by infringing upon another set for the action of a tiny minority of that second set.

    Hell! As you’ve probably noticed, many people find the idea of stricter gun control or the ban of weapons like the AR-15 to equally vile, reprehensible, and never excusable. And I’ll throw in that under the tenets of “disproportionate impact” any laws of that nature could also be considered racist since it would probably turn out that fewer minorities could purchase firearms.

    • I’m not looking for a knee jerk reaction to this crisis. Nor will I withhold from sending my child to school. You had the means to train them and make sure they were protected, and that’s a good thing too. However most experiences aren’t that, and whatever ends up happening, keeping things exactly the same is not the solution.

      • True, keeping things exactly the same is not the solution. Frankly, keeping things exactly the same and expecting change is either insanity or placing too much faith in chaos theory.

        I’d just rather not focus on treatments that I feel would both penalize too many innocents in the name of safety and not actual change anything other than the tool the killers use. (Think trucks / vans running through the parking lot or quad…)

      • I’m inclined to agree with that train of thought, but then that begs the question, what else can we do? Personally I would think it’s easier to stop someone wielding a knife as opposed to a gun or anything that fires a projectile, but if we aren’t limiting the tools, what else works?

      • I think I might start with Gun Violence Restraining Orders (GVROs). Look ’em up sometime. It’s a means by which the spouse, parent, sibling, or person living with a potential nutjob, e.g., Cruz, to petition a court for an order enabling law enforcement to temporarily take that individual’s guns right away.

        I mean obviously going to the feds is worthless, again e.g., Cruz, but local judges and police might do a better job…and it’s specifically targeted at people who are showing signs of being a danger rather than attacking a tool that is predominately used by completely law abiding citizens.

      • If that’s something that’s effective, then the public needs to be educated on it, especially as a more primary means for preventing things like this from happening again. But I listened to one of the shooter’s classmates give a speech at that anti-gun rally, and according to her they had been reporting this kid for warning signs since middle school. So it’s also on the authorities to follow up properly on things like this.

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