Firm Grip: Gun “Control” Debate Needs Reframing.

18 Dec

The reactions on the events of December 14th started to get political almost immediately. Those wanting to create more restrictions via new laws and those wanting to expand gun rights took to the internet and airwaves to get their voices heard. The same general rhetoric was heard by both sides. Each getting responses from those stuck in the echo chamber of which belief system they fell under.

So far I’ve heard only one person start to really put things into perspective regarding the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary school. What happened there is nothing less of heartbreaking. Parents sending their children off in the morning only to identify their lifeless bodies later is inconceivable to most people. Yet it is the reality of some of those parents. The talk has shifted to politicizing the tragedy. Rham Emanuel’s famous quote keeps ringing in my head:

You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.

What is being lost is the real perspective of this one event to public schools as a whole. We need to step back and ask ourselves this one question: How often are shootings like this happening in public schools kindergarten through high school? Some stats can be found on Wikipedia [1]. Once the colleges and universities are removed, the total number of school shootings total 77 since 1992. So in a 20 year span only 20 public grade school shootings have occurred, though none at the level of Sandy Hook. Of those 77, over half were at a high school with 50 incidents. There were 17 at middle schools and 10 at elementary schools. Until the tragedy at Sandy Hook, the largest number of injuries at an elementary school was the Amish school shooting in 2006 where 5 children were killed and the gunman killed himself.

So with that information, and more, available to digest, both sides are clamoring for position in the ensuing “battle” over gun rights. What both sides should realize is this event, as well as those prior, are anomalies. They are rare occurrences which, while undeniably tragic, do not happen with such a frequency to warrant a federal response. 20 years calculates out to 7300 days. In those 7300 days only 77 times did a school shooting occur. Now think back to how many of those incidents made  national news. The vast majority did not.

The nation does not need more legal gun ownership laws restricting ownership. People have been uneducated as to what the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution really is about and allowed laws to encroach on the right it protects. On the other side, we do not need to start sending armed men and women into our schools. I’ve heard people calling for retired military or peace officers to be employed by schools to monitor them for trouble. That is a huge waste of resources which need to be spent on really educating (teaching reading, writing and math) the students in public schools. It is a sad day in this nation we people are talking about sending specialized armed personnel into public schools to protect our children. Schools have morphed from the purpose of education into a hostile babysitting service for lazy or selfish parents.

But something has to be done! We can’t just stand by and allow nothing to be done, right? No we don’t have to do anything. Legislators need to temper how they reply to an emotionally charged electorate. Both sides right now are, unfortunately, pandering to their base and the fear of their base. The right is telling it’s base the left is coming for their guns and they need to stand up and oppose them. The left is telling it’s base more laws are needed against gun owners because who knows when the next one will lose his or her mind (the killer at Sandy Hook didn’t own guns by the way). Both sides need to stop the inflaming rhetoric right now. The bodies of those killed aren’t even in the ground and there is already politicizing going on about how proceed. Enough with that nonsense.

Instead, people affected by this tragedy need to be left alone by politicians and the media to go through their grieving process. The process will be different for each person. But once we get to a point where we are past the emotion of the tragedy, clearer thinking individuals can determine, with real honesty and truth, if any new legislation needs to be made. And those making the decision on the legislation need to be the people on the state level, not federal. The states need to handle this issue as each state has a different over all mentality and view on guns and their ownership.

The loss of an innocent life is tragic. The loss of 26 innocent lives at Sandy Hook is the worst in public school history in the United States and sets itself apart as the greatest of these type tragedies. But knee-jerk reactions to any emotionally charged event will only produce outcomes which in the end the vast majority will not want. Let’s all take a breath, gather our mind, will and emotions and approach the topic will rationality and civility. It’s the only way to move forward together on the issue.


Sources –

  1. List of school shootings in the United States – Wikipedia



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