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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Guns Don't Kill People. People Kill People. With Guns.

All that's necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing - Edmund Burke.

I’m pissed off.

I’m a Christian. A teacher. A human. And I am sick and tired of seeing schools on the news every few weeks because someone has been shot. When did teaching become such a dangerous profession? When did our schools become the most violent buildings in the country?

When did we become so apathetic towards the murder of children?

From 2000-2010, a study of violence in schools (where two or more people were killed) was conducted around the world. American schools experienced more violence than schools in Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Denmark, England, Finland, France, German, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Poland, Russian Federation, Scotland, South Africa, South Korea, Swaziland, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, and Yemen

I can’t imagine what the numbers will show from 2010-2020.

The one thing…the ONE thing that should be off-limits, that should NEVER be tolerated, is violence towards children. Yet we continue to accept it by doing NOTHING. By changing NOTHING.

On September 11, 2001, two planes slammed into the Twin Towers. Almost 3,000 people died. That was a bad day. A REALLY bad day. But it was still ONE isolated event. And it forever changed how we traveled.

That’s what we do. That’s what common sense dictates. When we recognize a possible danger, we look at ways to address it. We realized that smoking in public actually affected non-smokers as well, so we changed the law. And it has worked. “We required a driver’s test and insurance, then we lowered speed limits, cracked down on drunk driving, and passed seat belt laws. Since we started actually trying stuff, about 17,000 American lives have been saved per year” – Jason Kander (@JasonKander). Sometimes, we over-react. Better safe than sorry, we say. Sometimes, we miss the mark. So we learn, and try something different.

Except when it comes to guns. Over 11,000 people were murdered with a gun in 2016—and we’ve changed nothing. We’ve addressed nothing. In fact, we made it EASIER for unstable people to buy a gun last year.

Why? Why do we refuse to even LOOK at ways to make America safer? I’d like to focus on common arguments gun advocates make. (Note: I’m not addressing the obvious point of NRA-funded politicians.)

It’s not a gun issue, it’s a mental health/heart/human/etc issue.
First of all, in a study of 235 mass killings, only 22 percent of the killers were found to be mentally ill. Less than 5 percent of gun-related killings in the United States between 2001-2010 were committed by someone with a diagnosed mental illness. Secondly, ALL of it plays a part. Why can we not address ALL of it? We absolutely need to focus on mental health. We absolutely need to focus on the heart of mankind. But simply dealing with those while ignoring the gun component is irresponsible.

It’s our Second Amendment right.
The Supreme Court has already decided that the Second Amendment does not give us the right to own any kind of gun we want. Furthermore, our founders created our country in a manner that would embrace change as we developed. When the Constitution was written, slavery was legal, black men were considered three-fifth of a person, and women were not counted at all. We have since fixed those things. In all, the Constitution has been amended twenty-seven times and interpreted differently countless times. I tell my eighth graders every year that we teachers will give them every freedom that they show they can handle. But if they take advantage of the rules that exist, more will be placed. That’s how life is. I think it’s fair to say that we, as a nation, have taken advantage of the protections of the Second Amendment, so it is time to impose certain restrictions.

They’ll just find a different way to kill (aka—Guns don’t kill people. People kill people).
Again—weak. If someone wants to kill someone else, of course they’ll find a way. The point of trying to prevent incidents is to make them as difficult as possible and/or lessen the damage. There were 15,070 murders in US in 2016. A total of 11,004 were from gunsWhy? If they’ll find a different way to kill, why aren’t they doing it already? Why is a gun used in 73 percent of all murders? Because it’s the easiest way to kill someone from a distance, protecting the killer from retaliation. If we pass laws that make it harder for potential murderers to obtain a gun, will we see 11,004 fewer deaths? Of course not. Will all other forms of murder rise? Possibly. Will it increase by 6,938 deaths per year? No. If the Florida shooter was absolutely determined to kill, but only had access to a knife, would he still kill? Probably. Would he kill eighteen people before being stopped? Unlikely. Isn’t ANY decrease a step in the right direction?

Chicago has strict gun laws. Look how that’s worked for them.
For this one, it’s just easier to let NPR address it.

The bad guys will get a gun anyway.
Possibly the argument that annoys me the most. These are also the people that point out that drugs are illegal, but people still do them. Translation: “People are going to break the law anyway, so we might as well let them.” Gun advocates will insist that’s not what they’re saying, but that’s the message. By this logic, we might as well remove ALL laws. That’s why it’s so ridiculous. People are going to drink and drive anyway, yet do we have laws that punish EVERYONE who has a glass of wine at a restaurant then drives home? People are going to abuse their children anyway, yet do we have laws that punish EVERYONE who disciplines their child with a spank of the bottom?

See…gun advocates tend to believe that gun control is the same thing as gun banishment. It is not. Gun control means that people need to prove that they can handle a gun before they get one. Gun control means that people who have proven to be violent and/or unstable should not be allowed a gun. Gun control means that people who have displayed disrespect for the laws that exist should not be allowed a gun. Responsible, law-abiding citizens will still be allowed their guns. Will some people continue to find ways to obtain guns illegally? Of course. But many will not. And that’s the purpose of gun control—trying to find ways to keep guns out of dangerous hands. Eighty percent of weapons used in mass shootings have been purchased LEGALLY. That must stop.

Here’s the thing, when you ask gun advocates very specific questions, you’ll find that they’re more in favor of stronger gun laws than even they know.

Ask yourself, and ask them, these questions:
  • Should those on the FBI’s no-fly list be banned from buying a gun?
  • Should abusive spouses/parents be banned from buying a gun?
  • Should violent criminals be banned from buying a gun?
  • Should convicted stalkers be banned from buying a gun?
  • Should those with diagnosed mental illnesses be banned from buying a gun?
  • Should there be stronger punishments for owning illegal guns?
  • Should a license be required to buy a gun?
  • Should proper safety training be required before you can buy a gun?
  • Should there be proper and extensive background checks before you’re allowed to buy a gun?
  • Should the private sale of guns be banned?
  • Should you be an adult before you are allowed a gun license?
  • Should there be firm storage laws for guns in the house if a non-licensed child is there?

If you answered yes to ANY of those questions, you are in favor of some form of gun control. Most gun advocates and gun control activists AGREE on the majority of that list, and would like to see them addressed immediately. The problem is that the current gun laws are very weak-to-non-existent in these areas, because instead of focusing on these specific items, we just argue about whether or not guns are good or bad.

Enough is enough. Schools have become target practice, and we sit back and do nothing. We shrug our shoulders and ask, What can we do? A lot, actually. But doing nothing doesn’t work. Doing nothing is acceptance. Do you accept the level of gun violence in this country? Are you okay with children getting shot at and dying at school every year? I would bet that you are not. I would HOPE that you are not.

Then SOMETHING must be done. Stop protecting bad people and start protecting our children.

So…yeah…I’m pissed off. I’m angry when I see people fighting more viciously for their guns than for the safety of children. I’m angry that we’ve made this a political thing. Our safety…our CHILDREN’S safety…is not a Democrat or Republican thing. It’s not a conservative or liberal thing. It’s an AMERICAN thing.

In the amount of time it has taken me to write this post, nineteen children have died from a gun shot. Zero steps have been taken to try and stop that.

Millions of Americans will argue today that the correct action is to continue to do nothing. Meanwhile, another nineteen children will die.

One who condones evil is just as guilty as the one who perpetrates it - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.