Although many of the students who spoke locally were focused on safety in schools, for many in rallies across the country it was an anti-gun event. The children were saying they don’t feel safe in school anymore. Some bashed the NRA (National Rifle Association) and others went as far as to call for abolishing the Second Amendment. It was all in response to a school shooting several weeks ago in Florida, and several others that came before that.
I have to applaud the students for taking initiative and standing up for what they believe and things they feel are important in their lives. Simultaneously, I mourn their ignorance.
Before I make my case, let me say up front that I deplore what happened in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people died and 17 others were wounded. I’m incredibly saddened whenever an innocent life is taken, especially those of children in places where they should be safe and secure.
The point I want to make is that our children are understandably upset, frightened, and angry. Unfortunately, they are venting their frustration in the wrong direction. 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. (And yes kids, I’m going to make you look those up!)
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 NRA 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 be 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.
If these youngsters are interested in making schools a safer place, they must first look within themselves. 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 the students and the schools want to get serious about safety, they 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. They are a form of bullying.
This was 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 these 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 kids today want to get serious about school safety, they would be wise to stop worrying about gun control and focus more on relationships. If they 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.