Sunday, February 24, 2013

Arms in America: Part I

Everyone knows that the massacre at Newtown, Connecticut's Sandy Hook elementary school were a game changer.  The details and horrific nature of that days events are difficult to comprehend, and I can't imagine what the officers on duty that day have had to deal with since the shooting took place.

Sandy Hook first responders.
Courtesy: New York Times
In my minds eye, I can see the children.  I see them with hardly any sense of self preservation in moments like these, watching their classmates being riddled with bullets in horror before they too suffered the same fate.  As a father of three young children, I can't help but to see my children in their faces.  It is that visceral reaction experienced by countless Americans that explains how we got here.



Courtesy: Free Patriot (.org)
Right Wing Fear

As I frequent the left and right corners of the internet, I regularly see that they are filled with two types of fear.  One is fear of government.  This is the fear that says that the government is coming to take our guns and that we'd better be ready to defend ourselves.  A fear that says that (in a revolutionary sense) that we must always be prepared to go to war with the US military.  For me, this fear is probably the most disturbing.

In the department of things that don't help, I've seen some pretty stupid ideas on the state level, like this story about potential yearly in-home inspections in Washington state.  What I haven't seen is a credible source that shows that the federal government is trying to take a gun away from anyone that already owns a legal weapon.  It is this minor detail which goes largely unnoticed by this crowd.  Many of these folks also have some very interesting thoughts on the current president - some which appear to be rooted in hate - and this proposal only fuels their passion against this president and his policies.  The concern over government overreach is valid, but the hyperbole and thinly veiled references to violence are unnecessary and alarmist.


Courtesy: The Christian Left (.org)
Left-Wing Fear

On the other side of the discussion you have folks that are not very keen on the idea of America being such a pro-gun society.  These folks see the number and proliferation of weapons throughout our society and believe that something must be done.  This crowd had largely laid dormant throughout many of the mass shootings, but seem to have found a platform after the Sandy Hook shooting.

Politically energized by the tragedy at Newtown and using that to further the mission of gun-safety, they too are not without their use of imagery to drive their point home.  Many of the folks I've observed to be in favor of the assault weapons ban do not see the value of keeping weapons because some of them do not own weapons themselves and don't see the practical use.  Others associate guns with negative thoughts like violence and crime.  While those aren't completely unfounded thoughts to have, there are an overwhelming number of people that keep guns for legitimate reasons.  People hunt, collect, shoot for recreation and amongst other things choose to keep firearms for personal protection.  These types of people are not crazy.   There's nothing wrong with that, and their rights should be protected.

The question of exactly how do we address the issue of mass shootings in America today is not easy.  If you have been paying any attention to the media, you know that when it comes to guns in America, two things must be true:
  1. Guns are the problem.
  2. Guns are not the problem.

How can that be?  How can we be the greatest, most American-y nation in the world, and suffer from such violence in our cities and now our public places?  Whether it's true or not, it sure does feel like there are mass shootings just about every other week.  No longer just the sad pattern of far off gang or inner city violence, but the kind of shootings that are taking place in what were traditionally considered to be safe places in society: schools, places of worship, shopping malls, movie theaters...leaving many to wonder aren't there any safe places for us to go anymore?  Is there anything we can do to curb this type of violence?

In this four-part series we will look at three issues:

  1. Constitutional Rights
  2. 1994 Assault Weapons Ban
  3. Solutions
As this issue unfolds in the media and amongst ourselves, we should ask ourselves what is really going on in our society.  Is it video games and movies that are responsible for this?  Is it guns?  Is it hopeless to wonder or ask?  Are our rights to own something more important than safety in society?  As we look further into the issue I look forward to your thoughts and concerns about how this impacts your family, your life, and your view of what should be.  

9 comments:

  1. I find your post very intriguing. Personally, I think it is largely in part due to how society (mainstream media) makes these killers, these murders, a common household name. There is no doubt that people who do such catastrophic things, such as public massacres, are mentally unstable/ mentally ill, it is we the society that enable this behavior. The people that go on these destructive vendettas, these shootings, are looking for one thing... Glory... To go down in history, somewhere, and have their name(s) known. If we stopped and focused on the victims, it would take away the "limelight" that these crazed people are seeking. While it will not thwart off ALL mass killers/shooters, I feel it would put a dent in the number of them.

    I also do not feel banning guns is the answer. There will always be a way to buy or find a gun. Criminals don't mind the laws now, do they really think this will deter them? By banning guns? No. It will only hurt the everyday citizen.

    I also think teachers should be trained and armed. I know this sounds ridiculous, but by a "show of force" we can deter the number of threats against our kids.

    Many will say that- if we arm schools, then the shooters will just go to another public venue... While this may be true, we can only do so much. Back to point 1- if we disarm our citizens, we will become more of a target, we will be sitting ducks- even in public. But if we are allowed to protect ourselves, with the proper checks and permits and are able to act when needed, I think standing up and not cowering will help the number of attacks drop.

    This is all my opinion. I am no scholar, just an everyday mother and student who feels that- yes, the government is overreaching and we (the citizens) are allowing it to happen all too much!

    Katie :)

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    1. Katie, thanks for your comment. As far as arming teachers, I'm not comfortable with that idea. It does sound comforting as a parent, but as I look back at my teachers, that comfort is replaced with fear. These professional teachers weren't very good at their job, so I find it hard to believe they'd be much better as cops (so to speak).

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  2. Hi Katie!

    Great post. I do have a question- how do you envision teachers arming themselves? Carrying a gun at all times? Keeping it in their classrooms?

    Thank you!
    Melissa

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  3. This is a great article that lays out both sides of the gun control debate. With both sides dug in way too deep on the issue I doubt much legislation will come about, mostly because of strong Republican opposition. It is organizations like the NRA that promote an artificial fear among its members and gun owners everywhere that the federal government is set on taking away gun rights when it is simply not the case. An assault weapons ban seems to be the most talked about solution by liberals, not a solution by any means, but its certainly not an incredibly extreme measure. But the message the NRA sends to America is a strong one and one that is followed deeply by many gun owners in the United States. And until their supporters become less naive about the rhetoric that is thrown to them by the NRA, don't expect a change anytime soon.

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    1. Hey Colby, I appreciate your input. I've had this exact conversation with a dear (conservative) friend of mine, and he is of the mind that not much will happen either. I think it will be something somewhere in the middle. Great input, stick around!

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    2. I certainly will, you have a good thing going here and looking forward to future articles!

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  4. Hi Melissa! Thanks! Well, I am no genius on this subject. But, I have read articles and seen speeches and though it does seem like an uncomfortable and difficult task, I think it is a legit one to consider.
    First, teachers would undergo extensive background checks. Second, they would be trained in self defense, weaponry and taught gun use- kind of like the military. They would also undergo crisis management and hostage training, along with the gun training. I would think they would be armed with small hand guns, carried with them - on their persons at all times. When not on them, a lock box would be used with some sort of biometrics or equivalent (for security). The safety for the children would come with the gun being on the teacher at all times, saftey'd, and "hidden" from the children. I think if this goes into effect, their should be seminars taught in school aiming at educating kids on guns- so they know not to touch it. It is a lot of what ifs and questions and I am sure a lot of people are wary. But it is something that is being considered in more than one state and something that might one day happen. It isn't pleasant thinking of teachers carrying guns, but lately, the alternative- seeing more and more of these school (and public) massacres is worse. I personally do not think gun control, banning guns and the government taking away our right is the answer. I don't think their should be assault weapons available for the general public, but I also think that we should be able to have guns- if we chose to do so. The threat of guns will not go away just because the system banned them... It will only make them more expensive (black market) and the average family will be hard pressed to afford them (if they want one), but drug dealers and gang bangers will will have the ability to buy them (due to their usually high rollin' status). I just think all of this hooplah on the government pushing all this banning guns stuff is BS. And they are using fear to further an agenda... When we need to push unity and collectivsm in this aspect and ban together and take real action and show the "crazies" in society we have had enough. That's my 2 cents :)

    These links are just to give an idea that this is a pretty serious option. And how many states are actually considering it...

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/01/30/south-dakota-house-passes-bill-allowing-school-districts-to-arm-teachers/

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/teachers-armed-guns-texas-school-article-1.1224257

    http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/01/02/1384531/armed-teacher-training-program/

    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/12/tennessee-armed-teachers.php

    http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/education/article/Gun-training-for-teachers-eyed-4210003.php

    http://www.naturalnews.com/038757_teachers_firearms_training_school_shootings.html

    http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/28/16206006-utah-teachers-get-free-gun-training-in-response-to-newtown-shooting?lite

    http://www.reuters.com/news/pictures/slideshow?articleId=USRTR3CGH2

    http://thecoloradoobserver.com/2013/01/teachers-sign-up-for-free-firearms-training/

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    1. First of all, I'm thrilled to see discussion taking place. That's why I started this blog. You don't have to be an expert to ask questions and share your opinions. I think it's great that you offered different sources as well.

      As far as your opinions on the matter go (Katie), I think that you raise good points, while others may benefit from further consideration. When I have some time I'll look over your links, and you may be pleased to know that your insights are on par with what I will be addressing in the other parts of this series.

      Here are some questions that I thought of while reading your post:

      1. Who will train these folks?
      2. Who wil pay for it?
      3. Do these folks get into the profession to perform these types of duties?
      4. Do they have time for this kind of training?
      5. Is this supposed to be federally legislated?
      6. What happens to a teacher that doesn't want to do this? What if every teacher in a school doesn't want to do it?
      7. What if a teacher has an accident and a kid gets hurt?

      I don't expect a well researched and thought out answer (unless you want to), I do want to point out that this raises so many tough questions that are not easy to answer.

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    2. Thanks Katie! I am excited to look up those articles. I really appreciate your input! I asked because I am a teacher and I honestly fear carrying a gun on me, though now I can see as a parent knowing your child is fully protected is important! I don't have kids, but I can just imagine the horror of facing what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary. I may be open minded to having a gun in my classroom with the protection of a safe and really like your idea of having training! As for carrying a gun with me, I don't trust myself. I have a class iPad and I am too scared to carry it around because of how clumsy I am. :)

      Joe- here are my answers to your questions
      1. I can imagine the local police force could train school staff. Teachers do have to prove they are getting professional development and this could possibly be an option. The school district may have to pay teachers for over time.
      2. As far as placing guns in classroom, providing safety and training, I would imagine the tax payers would have to pay for this. Unless, someone got creative and had a gun company donate their guns and pay for police training as some kind of advertising?
      3. I can honestly tell you that no teacher I have met went into teaching wanting to carry a gun or be held personally liable for safety. However, on the other side, I don't think people went into teaching fearing school safety.
      4. If teachers and staff got paid during the summer, they might make time for this training.
      5. Good question. I'd be interested to see how it would look if each state passed legislation individually.
      6. Also, a good question. I will say that I would be unwilling to have a gun in my class and would start submitting my application elsewhere. I don't know if all teachers feel the same?
      7. That is my biggest fear and why I would be looking for a job elsewhere, but once again that is just me!

      On a side note- our school is gated in, you must be "buzzed" in to enter the school campus. Teachers must wear ID's. Also, we keep our doors locked at all times. I tell my students not to answer it and only I must (though this is not fool proof- I would do what I can to protect those children's lives. I believe the school is beginning to install cameras. It would be nice to have police presence, but once again, who will pay that? Education cuts are severe enough.

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