Will locking the children in a prison-like compound prevent them from getting killed in a mass shooting incident?
In the aftermath of the Parkland, FL, shooting, we are having the same conversation about protecting our children from harm in our nation’s school systems. We’ve heard it before; Columbine, Sandy Hook, and others. Still, we are mired in deep controversy about what to do, with those calling for a total ban on all guns on one side, and those right-to-bear-arms advocates on the other.
The one thing lost in all the hustle and bustle to “do something” is the fact that we can’t even identify the root cause of the problem, much less act to prevent the next school shooting from striking our innocent youth.
The problem is gun ownership, say many. We must enact new legislation to restrict the ability to purchase and own firearms, even though there are many such laws already on the books. In fact, some studies show that areas of the country with the most restrictive gun laws actually have higher incidents of gun violence that areas that are less restrictive.
Despite what you may read in the press, it is much more difficult to purchase a firearm today than it was 50 years ago, when gun ownership and weapons purchasing was virtually unrestricted. You could even order high-powered rifles through mail-order catalogs.
Guns are a tool, the same as a hammer, or a saw, and by themselves cannot do any harm. It takes an individual with a desire to do harm to make a gun, or a hammer, or a saw, into a weapon. It takes intent to turn a gun from an accidental discharge death into a mass shooting.
Someone who wishes to undertake a mass shooting must be mentally ill. That’s a good argument, but how do you define, much less identify, those who are merely eccentric-type mentally ill versus those who are mass-shooter type mentally ill? Do we round up everyone who stares at someone in a peculiar way and subject them to a bevy of standardized testing? And how long should we keep them detained before we decide they are fit to be among the populace?
Taking that stance will be straddling a fine line between freedom and a police-state action, and will soon degrade into questioning the sanity of those with differing political and religious values from our own. We aren’t ready to take that leap.
Then we must lock down our school campuses, arm teachers and administrators, to repel an attack from a deranged mass shooting attempt. Then what happens when a kid sets off fireworks as a prank, and over-zealous but poorly trained school officials take to the hallways with guns a-blazin’ resulting in the deaths of other school officials and children?
But at least our children will be safe from a mass-shooting attempt. Not unless you also arm the local cineplex at the mall, the dance club over on Elm Street, or even your local church. All of these venues have seen mass shootings in the past decades.
Is the problem gun ownership, mental illness, violence in movies and on television, video games, or just a failure to teach our kids, who become adults, moral respect for human life? Maybe it’s all of the above and more.
One thing is clear: Becoming entrenched in one particular view about the cause of the event will only cause more discord between those who disagree, and will lead to no good outcomes. Gun advocates and abolitionists need to calm down the rhetoric and talk about real solutions, instead of trying to force one side or the other to capitulate to their point of view.
Identify the problem, then work on the solution. Turning schools into prisons may cause more problems than it prevents.