Guns, Gun Control, Violence, Children
This week an eight-year-old girl was shot in her elementary school by another child who allegedly found the gun and was playing with it. One week later, a shooting in an Ohio high school resulted in the tragic death of four teenagers who didn't know the shooter, another teenager. Besides the obvious tragedy represented by these traumas and the question of how can schools be a place for learning in light of this type of violence, there is the added argument about gun control laws and our resistance to putting them in place. Those who oppose gun control laws, which include vast numbers of good people, point out that "It is not guns that kill but people who kill people." While this is true, it overlooks the obvious fact that people use guns to kill. Another argument is that if gun control laws go into place, then only the criminals will have guns and ordinary citizens will be unable to defend themselves. In addition, they argue that there are those who are gun hobbyists and hunters.
There is good reason why we as Americans oppose gun control. First, the constitution of the U.S. gives us the right to bear arms. This right stems from the fact that we have the basic, God given right to oppose tyranny. This is basic to our society and to the way we view liberty. We are and always have been a rebellious nation and those who are older and more conservative (not in the political sense) forget that. Young people in our nation rebel in support of what they see as just causes. They rebelled during the Revolutionary War, during the Vietnam War and are now rebelling against Wall Street. In fact, Americans have a long history of rebelling against the draft and have taken to the streets in what came to be quite violent demonstrations. So, lest we forget, we are not an easy people to govern and that makes me all the more patriotic.
The fact is that among the many reasons why people buy guns is to protect themselves from crimes and criminals. In one catergory of cases, gang members buy guns to kill one another. This often results in the deaths of innocent bystanders. Many times, these gang members are themselves, children.
However, when we discuss the United States Constition and the Bill of Rights, it is necessary to remember that we have the "right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." This is why the issue of gun control has taken on immense importance. How do you weigh one set of rights, the right to bear arms, against the other right, the right to life..., especially when guns end up killing innocent men, women and children?
Finally, as parents, many of whom own guns, we need to make those weapons safe and secure from our children who, all too easily, get into our closets and safes, find the guns, bring them to school and, without evil intent, use them. The result is tragedy. Even if this happens only once, it's once too often. This comes under the heading of parenting, and, as parents, it is our responsibility to both secure weapons and carefully teach our children of their deadly nature.
I am not preseting a solution in this blog. My goal is to try and open up a dialogue about this problem. Everyone is invited to comment about the issue of gun control, crime and school shootings.
Allan N. Schwartz, PhD