I’ve written about this issue more than any single issue. I’ve gone with anger. I’ve gone with facts. I’ve gone with possible solutions. I still feel the same way and believe all the things I’ve written, but you can only say it so many times before it rings hollow. We need to do something. I could mention the Oregon mass murders specifically, but that misses the point. We have these mass shootings every month. If you check the statistics on mass shootings this is literally true. It’s not hyperbole anymore.
I suppose I should start with the raw emotion. As many of you know, I’m a school teacher. Every time this happens in a school, I have a strong visceral reaction. You see the little signs on every campus you go on. My daughter’s elementary school spent some of the bond money to install a new entrance into the office. The idea is that someone could enter the office without being able to access the rest of the campus. Every campus I’ve been to has created a system to funnel parents into the office without allowing them access to the rest of the campus. This makes perfect sense, but in the back of your mind you always envision the worst.
Teaching certainly isn’t the profession it used to be. Teachers that teach in urban areas are keenly aware that the job is more dangerous than it used to be. All that being said, none of my students have ever made me feel unsafe. Hollywood loves to dramatize our line of work. I suppose they do that will all lines of work. However, all of us are a little worried that something like this will happen to us. Our campus has security, but any security is inadequate if someone with an automatic weapon wants to wreak havoc.
This is where we get to Washington and Austin. Austin’s response was unfathomable. They doubled down on stupid by allowing open carry. There is tone deaf, but that was just plain deaf. Still, the response from Washington and our national leaders is unthinkable. For any presidential candidate to utter, “stuff happens” in the face of serial tragedy immediately makes them unfit for office. Yes, stuff does happen. When it happens time and again then you step up and do something. Even if we disagree with what to do we should look at all alternatives. However, let’s look at the standard excuses.
There is little link between stronger gun laws and reduced gun violence.
This is a new one. Those of you that read an earlier edition of this piece missed this nugget of wisdom. I wouldn’t say I make my living with statistics. It’s more of a side hobby. People are fond of uttering the famous line, “there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.” I could use statistics to demonstrate that there should be no minimum wage, that Justin Upton is a more dominant baseball player than Willie Mays was, or that my students are the smartest students that ever lived. It’s all in how you massage them.
I would ask that we put the calculator and slide rule down and slowly step away from the spreadsheet. This is a very simple question: are we safer with more guns or fewer guns? All we have to do is look at gun violence rates around the world where gun control is a lot more strict. Sure, there are mitigating factors and there always are, but for anyone that says there isn’t a correlation is being intellectually dishonest.
Guns don’t kill people. People do.
Yes, this is technically true. However, guns appear to be the weapon of choice most of the time and it affords the person the ability to kill more people at a quicker rate. Of course, now we are are spilling into the most commonly used excuse.
Gun control won’t solve all of the problems.
Of course it won’t. I don’t know any sane person that says it will. This is a complex issue and it will demand a number of solutions. Not all of them will involve gun control. However, we have never used this kind of thinking to allow ourselves to be paralyzed on any other issue. Welfare doesn’t solve the poverty problem completely. Social security didn’t solve the elderly poverty problem completely. Medicare and the Affordable Care Act certainly haven’t solved the health care problems completely either. They helped. They made life better for millions of Americans. Perfect doesn’t exist. To avoid legislating because perfect won’t happen is lunacy.
We have seen other nations tackle this issue. It didn’t completely eliminate mass killings, but it did limit the number of mass killings with guns. Do you want to tell the next victims of gun violence that stuff happens? If it happens again in a school do you want to tell them that if Barney Fife were there then everything would be okay? Are we going to argue that a good person with a gun is all it takes? Are we really that stupid?
Isn’t this a mental health issue?
I completely agree that it is a mental health issue. No one kills numerous people without there being mental health issues. Of course, that goes to the heart of why we need stronger background checks. Even ignoring that fact, there is nothing that bars those who support the current gun laws to offer their own legislation on mental health. Unfortunately, that might mean spending a little more money than what we are spending. Heck, it might mean spending a lot more money than what we are currently spending. However, freedom can be costly. If you want to maintain the gun freedoms we currently then step up to the plate and address the problem from the other side.
Again, this about making the situation better. ‘Stuff happens’ is simply not good enough. For those that want to argue vehemently with what I’ve presented then go ahead and offer your solution. I’m all ears. I hope we can all agree that we can’t simply stand back and allow more mass shootings to happen. If we can’t agree on that then I’m not sure what we can agree on.