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Gun Control or Gun Nut Control?

March 14, 2018

In the wake of yet another gun massacre involving students at their own school, debate has been taking place regarding how best to prevent future such occurrences from taking place and making our students safe while attending their places of education   without constant fear for their own personal safety. The usual back and forth between those advocating for stricter gun control and those defending a strict interpretation of Second Amendment rights of Americans to own and bear arms. One apparent difference in the most recent rendition of this hamster wheel-like argument is that the students themselves have become energized to effect the change needed to improve their own situation.

High school students, many of whom will be eligible to vote this coming November in elections of local, regional, state and federal interest, have begun to vocalize their disgust at a failure of their elected officials to basically do anything other than cringe and do nothing to raise the ire of the National Rifle Association and other groups lobbying for the interests of the gun manufacturers in this country. They have begun protests at their local schools, as well as at state legislatures and Congress, to stop the steady drip, drip, drip of hand-wringing and praying which always follows such events and ends with virtually no change in legislation at any level that will prevent the next massacre.

In this instance, President Trump himself (a major beneficiary of NRA campaign cash in the 2016 election which propelled him to his current position) conducted a highly publicized forum for students, parents and others who have been victimized by such events to voice their concerns and calls for effective action to take place to make sure they and others will not have to continue to live in fear just to go to school, church or anywhere else that has seen mass killing sprees involving guns attacking unsuspecting innocent people in the course of carrying out their everyday lives. As is his wont, the President deplored such activity and expressed sadness for the losses suffered by the friends and families of the deceased, while proposing a path forward to ameliorate the problem.

At times, President Trump has proposed fixes that include banning bump stocks (which were used to devastating effect last October in the Las Vegas concert slaughter, but not in Lakeland, FL), raising the legal age for purchasing an assault weapon from 18 to 21, and training and arming teachers and other school employees to act more quickly in responding to these situations than local police and other first responders can ordinarily provide. In Florida, the initial state legislative response to the crisis involved refusing to even discuss proposals to curtail availability of assault weapons or strengthen controls over their purchase and possession. Since then, further action has resulted in a somewhat more appropriate response in the form of new laws which at least show that they are hearing the outrage at their refusal to address the concerns of their own constituents. That’s a far cry from an adequate response to the issues involved, but a start.

As far as Congress is concerned – it isn’t. Mitch McConnell came straight out and said the Senate wouldn’t be in any hurry to do anything at all to do with guns. Priority lays with deregulating Wall Street so they can ripoff consumers and tank the economy like they did under George W. Bush, raking in record profits and then getting bailed out  at taxpayer expense when their house of cards come crashing down again. Some Democrats seem to like that idea, too, so the GOP don’t get to take all the blame. As for the House, they don’t want to take on the NRA, either, and there are still budget issues to be ironed out. The media appear to oblige this penchant for inaction by focusing in on whatever new distraction the President feels the need to foist upon them in rapid succession, be it the firing of another cabinet secretary or other White House staffer, claims of willingness to arrange meetings with a long-time enemy nation’s leader for the purpose of historic negotiations to establish a lasting peace, or ____ (fill in the blank with your own favorite story of the day or week which involves as little actual doing as possible).

Most of the proposals made by the President to date are window dressing which will accomplish little. Raising the legal age for purchase of a semi-automatic military assault weapon (such as the AR-15 used in the Florida attack) to anything younger that the buyer’s age at death will do little or nothing to eliminate their easy availability. Ban them for civilian use. The NRA will scream and yell and throw money at legal suits and politicians to reverse this, just like they did before. Repealing the assault weapons ban did not make us any safer. The guns themselves do not discriminate in who uses them for what purpose – nor do the bullets discriminate as to whom or what they kill, maim, deface, destroy or otherwise negatively affect.

The broad-based movement in many state legislatures to allow for easier acquisition of concealed-carry permits and allow weapons to be carried in such a manner in more and more places legally, which has wide support among the leadership of the NRA and gun nuts like Ted Nugent, seems to operate under the assumption that the solution to gun violence is to arm everyone – or at least enough that if some bad guy starts shooting at innocent people, a good guy (or woman) will be nearby. armed and willing to act to stop them. We should all go to the mall, school, church, ballpark, grocery store, bank, etc. armed to defend ourselves? Some of these people obviously watch too many action movies.

There need to be gun-free zones, contrary to Donald Trump’s parroting of the NRA talking point. There is a valid reason for having these. Hypocrites like the NRA (which doesn’t allow guns at their conventions, to the best of my knowledge), 2nd Amendment absolutist Congress-critters (ever see an angry Senator or Rep wave their six shooter in a pique of anger during a debate on the floor of the House or Senate?) and others who favor open or concealed carry in public venues such as schools, churches, hospitals, bars and basically anywhere else you can think of are just plain wrong.

Arming teachers is one of the most ridiculous proposals Trump has made since becoming President. Schools are supposed to be places for learning, not armed camps. As much as the actual architecture often looks like they have a similar purpose, schools are also not meant to be prisons with armed guards keeping the inmates under control. The way to curtail gun usage in schools, places of worship and places for commerce or recreation is NOT to increase the number of guns in attendance, but to reduce that number – to as close to zero as possible. As far as I know, I attended numerous primary, secondary and university classes with absolutely no guns in them. Ever. I was not even born before the invention of gunpowder. Same goes for churches and most stores. Because I haven’t flown anywhere since 9/11/01, I’ve never even had to remove my shoes and socks to board a plane.

Perhaps the times have changed too much to expect such sanity to prevail in schools these days, but it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to imagine a country capable of reducing the amount of gun violence its citizens are subject to a level more easily tolerable than what we have now. Maybe a trip to Australia or the UK? I’m not talking about a totalitarian police state like North Korea or whatever country you choose to pick as an example of why we have the right to bear arms in the name of freedom and liberty. Heck some of the people living in countries with sensible gun control laws actually profess to be happier than most Americans. They certainly don’t have to participate in lockdown drills in the course of their education.

Ban the guns that are doing the most harm and use thorough background checks to limit who may purchase weapons for personal defense or hunting, if they feel they must – and do a better job of making them use them responsibly. That would include ensuring that someone other than the owner has access to the guns, the guns can’t be used to emulate Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo in JFK Elementary School and people are legally prevented from venturing armed into places where guns are prohibited.

The students spearheading these current protests are to be commended, not punished. We all need to stand up to the NRA and any other force that seeks to put our lives in lower regard than the rights of those who wish to be allowed easy access to the most lethal means yet invented to end them. We must encourage them and join in their efforts to do everything in our power to change the status quo by electing people who will likewise stand up to the NRA and other gun industry lobbyists and win against opponents who depend so heavily on campaign contributions from the pro-gun lobby that they cannot maintain their positions without killing legislation which would keep more of us alive.

Further Suggested Readings:

#NeverAgain: Parkland Students Lead Thousands in Rally to Demand Gun Control Legislation

Can students be the voice for change in gun debate?

Students head to Florida State Capitol to meet lawmakers and protest

Australia Has Not Had a Mass Murder Since 1996: Will We Learn from Their Example?

The NRA’s plan to “harden” schools is terrifying

Heeding Calls By Gun Control Advocates, National Companies Cut Ties With NRA

Parents are buying these gadgets to protect their kids from school shooters

‘I Was Almost a School Shooter’ Writes ‘Family Man’ Following Parkland Shooting—Lack of Access to a Gun Stopped Him

Teacher: I Signed Up to Teach Art History, Not to Carry Weapons or Die

Tikkun Daily Blog » Blog Archive » Gun Violence as State Sponsored Domestic Terrorism

Ten Reasons Arming Teachers is a Bad Idea

Getting Real About School Safety

I’d Elect the People on My Facebook Page Over Any Weapons-Funded Hack

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  1. Gun owners could use some common sense by locking up their weapons and I don’t mean in a living room glass cabinet. Your point on making schools etc gun free is a good one Rick. Parents and students could push for it with the locale school boards. Grass roots activism spreads by putting the school boards under fire (no pun intended). Happy to share your article with friends and social networks.

    “I was not even born before the invention of gunpowder.” unlikely since gun powder was invented in China over 2000 years ago 🙂 Is there something you are not telling us?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If lawmakers were serious about reducing gun violence, they would be taking a serious look at Hollywood movies and videogames that glamorize gun culture among American youth.

    Liked by 1 person

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