Another distraught child brought his daddy’s guns and some homemade explosive devices to school and killed classmates and teachers. On Friday, a 17-year-old Santa Fe High School student killed 10 people and wounded 10 more. This is just as the gun control debates from the Parkland, Fla., shootings that took 17 lives in February were showing signs of simmering down.
This latest shooting shook me a little more than past school shootings. Not just because it was close to home, but because we drove past the high school just days earlier on a visit to Galveston. On top of that, a friend at church sent out a special prayer request for the shooter’s family. He is friends with the father and said the father is totally devastated.
Despite this tragedy being so close and so painful, it only deepens my feelings on the perspective I wrote about just a few weeks ago. I’m reiterating it here with minor tweaks. Simply put, banning guns is not the answer.
Without trying to sound like a bad Facebook meme, you cannot secure your freedom by giving up your rights. If you think abolishing the Second Amendment will work, try looking at our history as it relates to the 18th and 21st Amendments (aka prohibition).
The reality of collecting all the guns in this country is laughable. There are too many, and in a global economy, too many ways to replenish them. Guns and the Second Amendment are here to stay. That is reality. To follow through on the old saying “If guns were outlawed, only outlaws would have guns,” I have to ask, how safe would that make you feel knowing only outlaws have guns? They will always have them; trust me on that.
Blaming the National Rifle Association for mass shootings is akin to blaming cops for crime or doctors for disease. The NRA teaches gun safety and responsibility. The organization exists to make us safer with firearms, not more dangerous. Instead of trying to attack the NRA, you should try turning to it for help. I think that if instead of vilifying the NRA, asking it for assistance in making schools safer against gun violence would yield surprisingly positive results.
To find the answer to the problem of gun violence in schools, look at the facts. Nearly all of the school shooters are peers of the victims. Schools are incredibly well protected from adult strangers. The real danger is within. It’s the marginalized kid from a broken home who poses the greatest threat.
Shooters are typically the ones who have been bullied, neglected, put down, and made to feel worthless. They’re the ones who get called fat, stupid, ugly, and many other hurtful words. They’re the ones that the other kids don’t play with at recess. They’re the ones nobody wants to sit with at lunch. They’re the ones that are made fun of because they don’t have natural athletic talent or have some disability.
Studies show that many shooters come from broken homes. Their parents are often divorced. They may have an abusive or alcoholic parent(s). They spend a lot of time watching violent videos and playing violent video games. They typically act out in negative ways to draw attention to themselves. They wind up in trouble, get bad grades, or telegraph their intent on social media.
There is a lot of talk about mental illness and the role it plays. It is a huge role and needs much more attention and resources. Mental illness, however, is a small part compared to the social forces that stress these kids. It’s the abuse and neglect that push these shooters over the edge mentally and emotionally.
If we want to get serious about school safety, we must first work on improving social behaviors and skills. If we pride ourselves on our diversity, we must also pride ourselves on inclusion. It’s more than racial or ethnic inclusion. We need to create an atmosphere where every student feels welcome and wanted, not just by the adults, but by their peers. We need to restore civility, not just in the schools, but in society in general.
What I have to say next might seem a little ridiculous or far-fetched, but hear me out. One of the most dangerous elements in society today is the Internet meme. For those who don’t know, a meme (pronounced meem) is typically a picture with a caption on it used to convey a quick, usually humorous, message. The earliest memes were print advertisements and, some would say, political cartoons. Today, memes convey all kinds of messages. Quite often, many are hurtful and derogatory. They spread rumors, lies, half-truths, and innuendo, which is happening again after the Santa Fe shooting. They are a form of bullying.
Memes were allegedly a weapon of choice deployed by the Russians during the last presidential election to influence the outcome. It’s likely being used to facilitate anti-gun demonstrations as well. How better for a foreign government to invade our country than to convince our populace to surrender its arms? Not only do people seem willing to surrender guns, but to take away our right to own guns as well. This is a message being spread like wildfire on social media via memes. I’d dare call it a form of mind control.
If people today want to get serious about school safety, they would be wise to stop worrying about gun control and focus more on relationships. If you want to make a difference in the world, first make a difference with your neighbor. Show love and kindness to all and it will be shown back to you. Be the change you want to make. Don’t demand it of others.