Guns, Guns, Guns

by Watson Scott Swail, President & CEO, Educational Policy Institute

 

Later today, the President will unveil his gun control plans, which are expected to be broad-sweeping and intrusive. The challenge is that a majority of the nation will think they aren’t extensive enough, while a large minority will claim that the law is violates their constitutional rights via the second amendment.

This current gun control conversation comes on the back of the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14th, when 20 children and 6 staff members were killed by a lone gunman armed with automatic weapons.

Here’s what you may not know: yesterday, two people were killed and one student seriously injured at Hazard Community and Technical College in Kentucky by someone with a semi-automatic handgun.

Also yesterday, a student at a St. Louis business school walked into the building a killed the director of financial aid and then himself. He used a 9mm handgun.

Last Thursday, a 16-year old fired off a shotgun in a California classroom, seriously injuring one student.

It’s been a busy month.

The story doesn’t end there, unfortunately. On April 2, 2012, a former Oikos University Student (CA) killed seven people on campus and injured several others. On March 6, 2012, a just-fired teacher came back to Episcopal High School in Jacksonville and killed the headmistress with an assault rifle. One week before, on February 27, 2012, a former student at Chardon High School in Ohio killed 3 students and injured 6 with a .22 caliber handgun. On February 10, 2012, in front of 70 students, a 14-year old shot himself with a rifle.

We’re still within the calendar year.

Two separate shootings at Virginia Tech, one at Ohio State, shootings at a Houston football game, a Nebraska school shooting, and the mother that everyone sees as starting this all (it didn’t): Columbine.

I don’t hunt, but I fully support sport shooting. I don’t do target practice (I have), but I understand people wanting to do it. I don’t own a gun, and never will, but believe that people have the right to do so.

But what the heck are we going to do to protect innocent people, at schools, churches, shopping malls, football games—anywhere, for that matter, where they shouldn’t feel their lives are in danger? This world is dangerous enough. At what point do we do something a whole lot more than we do now?

The US averages 20 mass shootings a year. Over 100,000 Americans are victims of gun violence annually. In 2010 alone, 31,076 people died because of a gun-related injury, 11, 078 of which were homicides. That same year, Germany had 158 gun-related homicides. In 2008, Japan had eight. In 2009, the UK had 18. Canada 158 in 2011.

But give us our guns. It’s in the constitution.

It’s time we made some changes. For the protection of six-year olds. For everyone. As stated, I think people should be able to exercise their constitutional rights, even if the framers of the constitution could never have envisioned how people misconstrue the language: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” How people miss the linkage of militia and “security” is beyond mean. It’s a far cry from a concealed weapons permit for your glove compartment. For a humorous view on the misuse of the Bill of Rights and the second amendment, see this Family Guy clip

Why not require all guns to be registered with the FBI. I mean ALL guns, not just those bought after new legislation. Then what about a law that makes people responsible for anything that happens with a gun that they purchased? So if you don’t lock up your weapon or keep it at a gun shop (that is, if you are irresponsible with a weapon), and someone gets a hold of it and breaks the law, you are responsible in a second or third degree manner. The buck has to stop somewhere, and if you want a gun, be responsible for it. If you’re not up to it, don’t get one. And I don’t want to hear from idiots like the Texas school superintendent who wants to arm teachers. Just wait for the first teacher who happens to “go postal” and knock out a classroom. He quite literally stated this in December: “You know, as educators, we don’t have to be police officers and learn about Miranda Rights and related procedures. We just have to be accurate.” (read more). Brilliant stuff, Mr. Thweatt. Glad you are in charge of the education of only 103 students in your “district.” Geez.

I don’t think we’ll do much on gun control. Perhaps I’ll be surprised. I doubt it. America just doesn’t seem to get it on guns. I don’t get that. But that’s the way it is. Everyone knows the definition of insanity, right? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. That’s us.

We are what we deserve.

About Educational Policy Institute

The Educational Policy Institute is a Washington, DC-based research think tank on education and the social sciences. EPI conducts evaluation and policy studies on various educational issues from Pre-K to workforce outcomes in the United States, Canada, and beyond. Visit us at educationalpolicy.org.
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