Critiques on social and education issues
The tragic Sandy Hook shooting has propelled the world into a flurry of discussions, particularly about gun control. It is expected: the perpetrator, Adam Lanza, 20, fatally shot 20 children and 6 adult staff, and injured 2 people with a gun. This crime involves two of America’s most valued and cared-for objects of affection: guns, and children.
Texas has been on top of this issue since 2008 by proposing that teachers be armed with guns.
Recently, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst hashes out the same proposal again in response to Sandy Hook. South Carolina, Oklahoma, Missouri and South Dakota are also considering this option. A rural school district in Ohio is even thinking about arming its non-teaching personnel, such as janitors.
It isn’t too difficult to understand how these stances came to be. In a country that embraces gun culture (with an actual government association to advocate it, i.e. the NRA), it is easy to have a gun at home or in your handbag legally. The process to obtain a gun isn’t as rigorous as Canada’s.
Having guns in schools sends a rather unethical message to our students. “Got a problem? Shoot!” (I apologize for my morbid humour.) School is supposed to be a safe place. And what do we teach our children? We teach them to solve problems and conflicts by talking it out, not by shooting it down.
I understand that talking to a crazy gunman is not exactly the most effective option in the book.
So why don’t we teach children that communicating with words is the preferred way to resolve conflicts? Why don’t we integrate that in everything we do? It’s quite similar to rape culture: instead of only teaching girls how to prevent being raped, why not teach everyone that raping is not the right choice? I have quite a handful of opinions in regards to rape culture, but that is an idea for another post.
To be pragmatic, where would teachers put their guns? In the staff room? Behind their desk? Strapped to their backs? In a holster on their belt? I’m not sure if having a gun in a place kids can see is a moral message to send to impressionable students. And if teachers do not have the gun on their bodies, how fast can they really retrieve it and to use it effectively?
WHO REALLY GETS THE GUN?
Teachers are humans too. We misplace our glasses, our headbands, our chalk, our pens, etc. Surely teachers in Texas would not be armed with a rifle and a sash of bullets, so they’d be carrying a small handgun. What happens when that becomes misplaced, and a student has their hands on it?
Additionally, teachers can be grumpy and cranky too. There are already cases of teachers beating students up here, here and here, teachers bullying autistic children here and talking inappropriately about her wine night. What happens if a teacher loses his or her temper? When we are in the heat of the moment, we don’t think rationally. We don’t think, “I am holding a gun, and this has a high chance of ending someone’s life.” We look for the quickest solution, whether the solution is overkill or not.
Aside from the gun supporters, there are also gun naysayers who propose a ban instead.
A ban isn’t what America needs at the moment.
Many arguments flock in whenever I pop that statement in casual conversation, and suddenly the room gets hotter by 8 degrees Celsius.
The reason for my stance is because America is so rampant in guns. This infographic from Huffington Post illustrates the amount and types of guns Americans own. This infographic from Care2 leans on the usage of raw numbers, which I don’t particularly like, but it shows that there are 90 guns for every 100 Americans. To simplify it, that means for every 10 Americans, 9 have a gun, and 1 doesn’t.
When such a vast majority has guns, you’d obviously want to protect yourself. That’s valid reasoning. Why create a disadvantage for yourself? Similarly, if everyone has a BA, you’d want a BA so you can at least level the playing field.
Which is exactly why a gun ban is not the solution America needs right now.
Laws are for law-abiders. A person with the intention to commit a crime, say, steal some jewellery, isn’t going to think, “Oh, I shouldn’t steal. The glass is double-paned, and the door has a lock. That means I am not welcome in the store at the moment.”
Criminals are not entirely stupid. In fact, some are quite intelligent because they are still in our society, living in a middle-class suburban house, working a white-collar service job, and still goes to Mass on Sundays. Obviously the smart ones have not been caught.
Criminals tend to follow the rational choice theory: they weigh out the benefits and consequences, and commit said crime when it seems like there are more benefits than consequences according to their system of values and beliefs. Many people get stuck at the part where criminals believe the benefit of stealing a necklace is better than ending up in jail, thinking, “Why would anyone want to risk a criminal record over a piece of gold?”, hence the clarification of judging by their value system.
But I digress. The point is that laws are made for people who already follow the law. It’s preaching to the choir, so to speak. Those who want to break the law will eventually find a way, and be able to convince themselves that the trouble is worth it.
Moreover, there are many guns that were illicitly obtained. When you ban the legal possession of a gun, you only have black market guns. The black market will receive a higher demand, and thus illicit selling and buying of guns will be even more rampant due to the gun ban.
So how do we fix it?
There’s no quick fix solution. America is so saturated in gun culture that the nation needs an overhaul on their social values. Gun culture needs to be deconstructed bit by bit through education and outreach while retrieving the illicitly owned guns through specially tailored programs like Operation Ceasefire.
Culture deconstruction can transcend several generations. It definitely requires longer than a presidential election, which is probably why nobody has heard of this option during presidential election speeches. Very typical.
Culture deconstruction will take generations to be effective because it requires debunking the values associated with owning a gun, such as power, authority, masculinity, wealth, class, etc. Society needs to see which concepts to dump, and if they want to keep the concepts, they need to figure out a less harmful way to sustain these values without a high risk of harming others. Doing a value overhaul is tiring and chaotic. There will be trouble and there will be protests.
Secondly, people need to be educated about the Second Amendment. There is still a large handful of Americans who throw in the Second Amendment as a shield against gun naysayers, resulting in embarrassment when their opponent elaborates on the history of said Amendment.
I’m no fan of history, so I will keep this brief. The Second Amendment was put in place so citizens can form their own militia if the British decide to invade the States. There weren’t many police officers back in the day of no Internet, and duties of a policeman were much more vast than law enforcement and protection of citizens.
Britain and the US still have a slightly tense relationship (think of a mother and a rebellious teenage son), but Britain has no plans at all to invade the States again. There is no need for citizens to grab their rifle.
And then we can begin to discuss a gun ban.
The main part of the problem is gun culture. Culture is internalized within all of us, so it is much more difficult to root it out, but root it out we must. America is gun-crazed; let’s admit it. We need to figure out why it is gun-crazed, and how we can help America be the Land of the Free without being harmed.
America should not feel alone in their quest. As global citizens, it is up to us to provide the support America needs to progress to becoming a safer nation.