Like everyone else, I’m reeling this morning over the killing of 19 kids and two teachers at the Uvalde, TX elementary school. It seems as if everyone is weighing in on the tragedy from the President (who’s comments were poignant) to news talking heads to pro sports figures to celebrities to average Janes and Joes like you and me.
However, most of what I’m seeing is quite simplistic and actually doesn’t address the complexity of violence we have in our society. One side says ban assault rifles; another side says get mental health; others say lock down schools and arm teachers! Sorry folks, none of these one-offs will work.
Now before you call me a crackpot, let me share the perspective I’m coming from. Here are some tidbits about me that inform my views:
- I’m a gun guy – I own firearms and have a membership to a gun club. I’ve even been a member of the NRA
- I’m a former security consultant who specialized in school security having written multiple school security reviews for a variety of public and private schools ranging from K-12
- I’m a former licensed private investigator and bodyguard who carried a firearm for work
- I served in the Army and am familiar with a variety of weapons
- I worked in the Oregon Legislature and have been around the gun lobby and gun issues for decades
- I’m an adjunct professor who teaches politics and constitutional law
- I’m now a pastor with a heart for Jesus who loves God and loves others. I have a very active pastoral counseling ministry in which I work with marginalized people, many of whom have mental health issues.
Taken together I have pretty extensive experience with the gun issue, as well as the social cost of the gun issue. I have several thoughts this morning so bear with me.
The Genie is Out of the Bottle
According to the site Americangunfacts.com, “There are estimated to be over 400 million guns in the United States between police, the military, and American civilians. Over 393 Million (Over 98%) of those guns are in civilian hands, the equivalent of 120 firearms per 100 citizens.”
According to WAMU Radio, an NPR affiliate, “About 40% of Americans say they or someone in their household owns a gun, and 22% of individuals (about 72 million people) report owning a gun, according to surveys from Pew and Harvard and Northeastern. This figure has declined over time, down from 51% of gun-owning households in 1978. Gun purchases, however, have hit historic highs in recent years and during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
According to CBS News, “In 2021, the FBI designated a total of 61 shootings in 30 states as ‘active shooter incidents,’ resulting in 103 people killed and 140 wounded, excluding the gunmen. Last year saw the highest number of deaths as a result of active shootings – 103 total – since 2017, a whopping 171% increase from 2020.”
A report by National World dated May 25, 2022 had a larger perspective:
“Since 1970, when current records began, there have been 2,052 school shooting incidents in America which have left 661 dead. Last year figures reached an all-time high with over 250 incidents recorded – a 120% increase on the year before when 114 incidents were recorded. So far this year 139 shootings have been recorded (including the Robb Elementary School attack) leaving 48 dead.” (This doesn’t include yesterday’s Uvalde shooting)
One more note on the National World data:240 of the incidents were “non-active” shooters meaning a kid brought a gun to school but did not fire any rounds.
What do all these numbers mean?
- There are too many guns out there to simply ban guns and think you’re going to solve the problem. There is no way you’re going to get rid of 400 million guns.
- Interestingly only 2 of 10 people say they personally own a firearm. Then again, people don’t always honestly answer polls and gun owners rarely answer polls such as these. However, let’s say the 72-million-gun owner figure is correct. FBI reports 62 active shooter incidents in 2021 and the National World reports 250 incidents on school shootings (not all of them mass shootings) – those number are not even statistically viable to restrict legal gun ownership from the other 72 million people who didn’t commit an active shooter incident even though even one child’s death is enough for all of us to cry out for change!
- Even more interestingly is back in 1978 51 percent of American homes had a gun! Yet, there were no real mass shooting like today (there were 3 active-shooter incidents that killed 8 people in 1978, according to National World). That tells you something else is going on here than gun ownership.
Assault Weapon Ban
According to a May 25, 2021, Forbes article, there are roughly 20 million assault rifles in America. I’m going to quote extensively there from the article by Joe Walsh because he summarized the issue really well.
For some advocates, the sheer number of firearms already in circulation underscores why stricter gun control measures are needed. Christian Heyne, vice president of policy for gun control group Brady, supports a ban on new assault weapons, but he also suggested tighter regulations for existing guns. He says the government could require assault weapon owners to register their guns and earn licenses, similar to the current rules for owning a machine gun.
“We need to get a hold of new and manufactured weapons,” Heyne told Forbes. “The long-term plan needs to be: Regulate these weapons the way we do other weapons of increased lethality.”
Gun rights groups argue a ban on assault weapons is unworkable because so many Americans already own these guns for legitimate reasons. AR-15-style rifles are some of the most popular guns in the United States, NSSF spokesperson Mark Oliva told Forbes, and an assault weapons ban “does nothing to get these 20 million firearms off the street.
President Joe Biden has suggested reducing the number of assault weapons in circulation by buying them back from their owners, a process the Australian government attempted in the 1990s. Oliva, for his part, believes a buyback program would fail because criminals would refuse to participate: “All it would do is disarm law-abiding citizens,” he said.
The United States first banned some types of semiautomatic assault weapons in 1994, but the law expired after 10 years, allowing those guns to return to dealers’ shelves. Since then, guns like the AR-15 have become extremely popular among enthusiasts who favor their versatility and limited recoil. However, these guns are also regularly used in some of the country’s most notorious mass shootings, and critics argue they’re designed to be more lethal, a charge gun rights groups dispute. As a result, Democrats have consistently pushed for a renewed nationwide ban, and seven states have banned assault weapons on their own.
As you can see, the issue of banning assault weapons or even limiting magazine capacity is tricky in that would it really do anything given the current state of America’s gun culture?
Many point to other countries and say their gun laws have resulted in few to no mass shootings. There are two pitfalls here, however. First, other countries are not America so you’re really comparing apples and bowling balls for a plethora of reasons. Second, there is a difference between causation (gun laws prevent mass shootings) and correlation (gun laws may or may not have a relationship to gun violence in various degrees).
I would posit that banning assault weapons and limiting magazine capacity would make people feel good but it’s symbolism over substance. One does not need an assault rifle with a high-capacity magazine to kill people quickly; one can reload a handgun with a small-capacity magazine in less than half a second.
One of my favorite stories from my old school security consulting days was when my partner and I went to a local public elementary school and decided to see if we could get into the building and how long it would take someone to stop us. We were unannounced and none of the administration knew we had been hired by the district to conduct the review.
We decided to go in through the kitchen. Kitchens are always hot, and they always leave the door open to circulate air. So, we waltzed in, and the lunch ladies were so kind to us! They offered us cookies and we spent a bit of time just talking with them.
Then we wished them a good day and headed into the school, looking into classrooms through the little square windows and going up and down each hallway. After about 15 minutes a man came up to challenge us. We gave him some fake stories, but he continued to challenge us – turns out it was the principal, and he was the only person we saw in that school (teachers, janitors, kids) who stopped us. That school’s report pointed out several flaws in their system.
Those of us in the school security consulting business constantly told schools they needed a single point of access with visibility on that access and that access should be locked until the person is identified as having a purposed to be on campus. However, the problem with school security is it can be expensive. It also can be inconvenient which is really the bigger issue. I’m pretty sure that I could get into any school I wanted to even decades after Kip Kinkel, Columbine, Sandy Hook, and now Uvalde.
In our local high school district, the decision was made to get rid of all the school resource officers – police who work in the schools to help with safety and security. Personally, I opposed such a move. The result has been more fights, more crimes, and certainly less accountability and more strain on teachers and administrators. Not a good mix.
That all said, if a gunman wants to get into a school, they just have to shoot the locked door out and they have entrance. But at least it might alert someone to an active shooter. Security in and of itself doesn’t guarantee safety.
Now I’m finally at the place where I think the real problem lies!
That figure from 1978 really struck me as I was researching this blog. I was a freshman in high school in the fall of 1978 at Palatine High School in Palatine, IL which is a suburb of Chicago. I had lived right smack downtown Chicago as well. From my recollection we didn’t have any of the gun violence issues we have today.
Now here’s another interesting tidbit from my life. My father was a crook – he went to jail, I don’t know, half a dozen times or more when I was a kid. He was a felon, and I was around other felons as well. No gun violence even though there were plenty of guns and I certainly was around the wrong and dangerous people! And then there was the time we fled Chicago in the middle of the night and ended up in Bend “middle of nowhere” Oregon. Talk about culture shock! Everyone had a rifle mounted in the back window of their pickup truck! Guns were on school grounds each and every day. And you guessed it, no gun violence.
Why was my generation so different than this current one?
I’m glad you asked!
Here is what we didn’t have that we have today that I think makes a HUGE difference in the current culture of death we see in our society:
- An option not to go to church
- Violent video games
- Violent music lyrics
- Extreme violence in movies
- Moral relativism
- Social Media and Cyber Bullying
- A revolving door mental health system
- Permissiveness and enabling bad behavior
- Disengaged parents
- Schools having to be social workers
Allow me, if you will, to take on each of these.
When I was a kid everyone pretty much went to church. Now, my dad was an atheist, but I still went to church while in half of the foster homes I was in. It seemed all my classmates went to church as well. I’m not saying we all grew up as believers (even though my friend group pretty much are), but we learned right from wrong! We learned what was Godly (love God love others) and what was evil (murder, adultery, hate, etc.). Church gave my generation a solid grounding in appropriate behavior based on scriptural truths. And parents held their kids to this standard! You just didn’t get away with being a bad kid in our day – there was serious intervention if you violated social norms which were based on the Judea-Christian ethic!
Today? Church attendance among the younger generation is down to 4 percent. FOUR PERCENT! Where, then, are these kids learning their values? We’ll dig deeper there in a moment but suffice it to say from media, including movies, music, gaming and social media. The culture has changed so drastically from my generation. Certainly, the summer of 1968 was the start – the so-called “Summer of Love” and you could do a dissertation on the fall of our culture since the introduction of free sex, free drugs, and if it feels good do it mentality. But the violence wasn’t part of that. Violence is a unique part of these later generations.
Suffice it to say that our culture no longer has an absolute moral code one learns in church. Even the churches have gotten squishy on standing by scriptural truths and don’t teach about right and wrong, holiness and sin, or heaven and hell because it’s “unpopular.” It’s no wonder we are where we are.
Gun play in movies is as old as movies! All the westerns had shooting scenes. But did you ever notice that it was pretty much good guys vs bad guys and the good guys (white hats) always won because they were on the right side of justice?
Gun play was just an extension of the old Errol Flynn swashbuckler movies where you had sword fights instead of gun fights. The good guys fought for justice, the oppressed, and needy against what was clearly evil people violating the laws of God and men!
But gun play in movies took a sharp turn to serious violence in the late 70s and early 80s. Instead of the gunfight at OK Corral you got the Terminator indiscriminately killing people (or any Schwarzenegger movie for that matter). You got Scarface, Robocop, The Godfather, even Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry and Charles Bronson’s Deathwish movies. Just like sex sells, so does violence and as time went on movie studios tried to outdo each other with the level of graphic violence they could portray and still get an R rating.
Then there are the video games. We went from Pong to Mario Brothers and Frogger, to Grand Theft Auto, Doom, Mortal Combat, and Call of Duty. Heck, even the cartoon video games are violent.
“Playing violent video games like Doom, Wolfenstein 3D or Mortal Kombat can increase a person’s aggressive thoughts, feelings and behavior both in laboratory settings and in actual life, according to two studies appearing in the April (2000) issue of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Furthermore, violent video games may be more harmful than violent television and movies because they are interactive, very engrossing and require the player to identify with the aggressor, say the researchers.”
No kidding. This is kind of a no brainer. Scripture tells us that how a man thinks so he is (Proverbs 27:3). What you fill your brain with obviously influences you and these kids who become young adults (most of the perpetrators of mass shootings) have filled their brains with violence where they can kill in a virtual world without repercussion.
Here’s an interesting test: Ask a kid or young adult what music they listen to. The list will range broadly but there will be artists who have a distinct violence in their recordings.
“Violent song lyrics increase negative emotions and thoughts that can lead to aggression, according to a study published in the May issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Vol. 84, No. 5).
“The study challenges the ancient Greek ‘catharsis hypothesis’ that claims that expressing aggressive emotion will later decrease aggressive behavior. Instead, researchers from Iowa State University and the Texas Department of Human Services found that aggressive music lyrics increase aggressive thoughts and feelings, which might perpetuate aggressive behavior and have long-term effects, such as influencing listeners’ perceptions of society and contributing to the development of aggressive personalities.
“’This [study] provides the first clean demonstration of violent lyric effects,’ says lead author Craig Anderson, PhD, of Iowa State University.”
Popular artists such as DMX, Eminem, NWA, 50 Cent, Ice Cube, Nas, Snoop Dog and more. Yeah, I’m picking on rap and hip-hop but there’s a reason – it’s popularity due to beat and lyrics has had a significant impact not just on kids in urban areas but kids across the nation. What do they sing about?
- Killing the police
- Raping women
- Gang violence
- Beating women
- Killing white people
You get the drift. The problem isn’t just the lyrics (which supporters would say is just a cultural expression of what happens in the lives of these artists), the problem is how kids idolize the artists and try to emulate their lifestyles the same way people do with any celebrity. When an entire culture exists based on violence and the debasing of other human beings you’ve got a societal problem.
This is a biggie!
Like the church issue, we have entire generations that don’t believe in right and wrong based on absolute truths. They have been taught that morals are fluid and that everything is situational based on how one feels.
Well, I have Complex PTSD and there are days I feel angry (like today). Is it okay that I express that anger in ways that my generation would see as inappropriate? Based on moral relativism, of course it is! My truth is the only thing that matters even if it conflicts with your truth because there is no absolute right or wrong.
People will disagree with me here and say murder is always wrong. Well, is it? You’ll murder a child in the womb (even after it is “viable” as the courts have determined). Well, that’s different.
And that’s the point.
Moral relativism says that what you believe is the only thing that matters and when people disagree with you, they are wrong no matter how hypocritical your “truth” might be.
Today’s younger generations all live in this la-la land of moral relativism. Their minds have been so warped by violent media that their “truth” is others deserve to die or at least they don’t deserve to live. Everyone is an enemy in some way or another and if you don’t agree with their perspective, you’re the problem!
So, we have a bunch of people running amok out there believing whatever they want to believe with no unifying national belief system or consciousness that has resulted in the most disunified and violent time in our nation’s history since the Civil War.
That all said, we all know that social media plays a massive role in all this. Having grown up in an era without social media, without cell phones, without having to be electronically tethered to anything, it’s hard for me to understand all the emotion that happens on the various platforms. If you don’t like something someone posted or said turn it off. Seems simple enough to me. But these younger generations absolutely LIVE and DIE by their social media.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE social media and think the platforms can be used for good. But like everything, they can be used for evil as well. And it seems the younger generations gear themselves toward the latter.
Like I said, kids live and die by their social media “likes.” Everyone wants to be an “influencer.” People not only post their opinions, but they post the most intimate details of their personal lives! We were taught to keep the private private but today nothing is too private for social media! And that, of course, leads to being emotionally damaged by “trolls” and “haters” and “Sliding into DMs” and having a “Twar” and “Rage Tweets” and posting “Thirst Traps” and basically getting your self-worth by how many followers you have and what they say about you!
As I write this, I’m just SMH (shaking my head). Why in the world would anyone worry about what some stranger you’ve never met but follows you on Instagram has to say about anything?
I had a guy light me up on a blog post I did a few days ago. He was SO angry about what I wrote about it not being God’s fault that there is suffering in the world (lots of people want to blame God for things that are clearly the fault of men). This guy just went off, attacking me personally and basically saying I knew nothing about nothing. Well, I responded to him (in truth and love) which I think surprised him. He responded back (more appropriately) and I responded again. He then said to take his comments off my site because he didn’t want to be associated with it. Well, he didn’t have to respond in the first place if he didn’t want to be associated with it did he?
I honored his request but felt bad for the guy. He was all a twitter (pun intended) because of something some stranger wrote and then offended that the person he attacked would engage in a conversation with him. I think that sums up what I’m talking about here. Social media is not a place for civil discord where people can agree to disagree (a skill my generation learned early one). Instead, social media is a beauty pageant to see who can post the most pleasing stuff and if you displease anyone in the mob, you’re going to get it…until you respond to them and then they’re offended. Perhaps they’ll try to cancel you next! (Sarcasm intended)
Last thought: Have you noticed that all these shooters post their intentions on social media before they go on their rampage (including the Uvalde shooter)? Even in their twisted minds these shooters want the infamy that goes along with social media. That’s how out of control it is.
Revolving Door Mental Health System
This one really fires me up so hold on!
We have a member of our church congregation who has schizophrenia. When he’s on his meds he’s great! But when he’s off them – he simply is a danger to himself and others. For the past few years, he’s decided to not take his meds; he doesn’t like the way they make him feel. He just recently got off them again. The result has been dozens of jail stints for various crimes; homelessness, loss of personal possessions; food insecurity and more. It has been tragic to watch and that is all we’ve been able to do because legislatures across the country decided to dismantle the institutional mental health system in the name of being compassionate.
Everyone who works with the vulnerable knows there is a mental health crisis in this country. Heck, even the affluent can’t get an appointment with their mental health provider for at least a week if not a month! You have a crisis? Go to the emergency room!
If you’re homeless or indigent and have a mental health crisis, good luck getting into the free clinic which probably won’t prescribe mental health medication because they’re afraid you’re a drug user. Instead, you’ll probably just land yourself in jail during one of your crisis moments where they’ll keep you until they think you’re no longer a danger to yourself.
Politicians everywhere campaign on “fixing” the mental health crisis but that takes money and rebuilding or at least reimagining the mental health continuum which has to include facilities for those who cannot take care of themselves. And these same politicians won’t spend the money on it and instead expect the faith community, cities and counties to manage the crisis on their own.
This is particularly acute in the younger generations. Take a look at this:
“Members of Generation Z — individuals born between 1995 and 2010 — are growing up in an age of increased stress and anxiety. Some 70% of teens across all genders, races and family-income levels say that anxiety and depression are significant problems among their peers, according to the Pew Research Center.
“Just 45% of Gen Zers report that their mental health is very good or excellent, according to the American Psychological Association. All other generation groups fared better on this statistic, including Millennials (56%), Gen Xers (51%) and Boomers (70%).” (Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation)
Folks, that ain’t great! Now, I don’t think that mental health between the generations really is that different – Boomers especially have been taught that you don’t talk about mental health issues but instead you just suck it up and drive on. Discussing mental health has become much more socially acceptable which is why I think you see the percentages you see in each generation. But people are people and I think every generation suffers.
So, again, what are we doing about it?
We’re medicating people, that’s what!
According to a study by QuoteWizzard, 1 in 5 Americans – 65 million – are taking some type of mental health medication. I wonder how many people with mental health issues are not taking medication! I bet that number is even larger because there is such a stigma for getting mental health treatment!
So, here is where we are at so far:
We have 20 percent (or more) of the population who have a mental health disorder with 45 percent of Gen Z and 56 percent of Millennials saying they have poor mental health. These people grew up with constant violence in their media (movies, song lyrics, and video games) which studies have proved make them more aggressive and violent. Social media has created a culture among the younger generation of seeking self-worth and attention from strangers while at the same time being incredibly vulnerable emotionally to cyber bullying. And in today’s culture every just says, “meh” because my truth is the only thing that matters and if you disagree with me I will cancel you because you no longer have value.
But we’re not done adding to this mix yet.
Permissiveness and Enabling Bad Behavior
Anyone in the social services continuum knows there is a difference between helping someone and enabling them. The first leads to healing, albeit with fits and starts and stumbles and recoveries. The second leads to entitlement and a continued and expanded expression of inappropriate and bad behavior.
When everyone has their own truth, and we must be accepting of even the most morally reprehensible conduct in the name of tolerance you create a culture of chaos where there really are no rules and anarchy reigns!
The question, then, that begs is where does society draw the line? Obviously, killing innocent children seems a good place to start!! But why would a potential shooter think that is a problem when they’ve never gotten in trouble for anything else they’ve done before and they see people get away with violent acts in their media and in real life?
We don’t know much yet about the Uvulde shooter, but I read a story this morning that said he posted his guns on social media, kids in school knew that he used to threaten people with violence and even shot at cars with a BB gun. And we know that he contacted a stranger via social media dropping hints that he was going to do something, sending her photos of said guns.
And nobody did anything.
The whole “Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child” thing has gotten a bad rap (perhaps rightfully so) because it implies a level of punishment that seems on the verge of child abuse! However, the concept is absolutely sound and has been thrown out as well. When I was in school, the vice principal (always the vice principal in charge of discipline) had a wooden paddle you’d get if you misbehaved! And parents were okay with this!
If you got in trouble in school, you got a spanking when you got home. If you messed up at home, you got a spanking. If you messed up anywhere, you got a spanking! You quickly learned that you reap what you sow – misbehave and break the rules and you get a consequence. Instant karma if you will!
The newer generations?
Mess up and get a time out. Mess up and get a counseling session where we talk about your feelings. Mess up and maybe you just get yelled at but no real consequence. Not even a grounding!
What does that teach you? Mess up and nothing really happens so it’s okay to mess up because it doesn’t cost you anything!
I had to laugh when I heard that the Army started introducing “Stress Cards” to recruits so that if basic training got too tough, they could hold their stress card up and take a time out. Are you kidding me??? But that’s what these younger generations demand because they’ve grown up in a permissive and enabling environment.
If you did a deep dive on the various shooters you’d find they pretty much had one of two things going on – permissiveness (like the Sandy Hook kid who was clearly mentally unstable but his parents catered to him) or early childhood abuse (see: Experts note connection between adverse childhood experiences, mass shooters – Michigan ACE Initiative : Michigan ACE Initiative (miace.org))
Simply put, as a society we cannot continue to enable bad behavior – violence, drug use, homelessness, mental illness, et al – and expect members of society to behave civilly. Again, a no brainer here.
Disengaged Parents and Schools Being Social Workers
I’ll address these last two together because they have an impact on each other.
Every time a young person is involved in a mass shooting, a question is asked: Where were their parents?
And rightfully so!!
There comes a time when your parents become your friends. But that time is not from 0 to 20! From the moment you are born until after your teenage years, you parent(s) are there to raise you not be a friend. Now, there is some crossover – parents love you, support you, care for you, talk with you, and walk with you through life. Friends do that as well. But parents do things friends usually don’t do: They set rules and boundaries, they discipline when those rules and boundaries are broken, they push you to meet your potential, they hold you accountable, they teach you about respect and discipline and sacrifice, and they tell you the truth in love even if you don’t like it.
Too many parents want to be friends with their kids instead of being a parent and it’s crushing the later generations. Now, I get why they want this: Their parents didn’t act like their friends which upset them so they’re not going to do that to their kids! Well, as you grow older, you’ll find out why that thinking is immature and even dangerous!
Alfred University did a study on why school shooting happen. Here’s their results:
|Respondents were asked to rate 16 possible reasons for school shootings on a 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree) scale. Their answers are as follows:|
|1||They want to get back at those who have hurt them.||87|
|2||Other kids pick on them, make fun or them, or bully them.||86|
|3||They don’t value life.||62|
|4||They have been victims of physical abuse at home.||61|
|5||They have mental problems.||56|
|6||It is easy for them to get a gun.||56|
|7||They do not get along with their parents.||55|
|8||They have witnessed physical abuse at home.||54|
|9||They drink alcohol or use drugs.||52|
|10||They do not have any good friends.||49|
|11||They see violence on TV, in movies, in videos, and in computer and video games.||37|
|12||Violence is a way of life in their neighborhood.||34|
|13||Other kids encouraged them to do it.||28|
|14||Their teachers don’t care about them.||26|
|15||They are afraid of their own safety.||20|
|16||They are bored.||18|
So, where are their parents? Did they teach these kids how to process their emotions in an appropriate way? Did they teach them how to manage bullies? Did they teach them the value of life? Did they intervene is the kid’s alcohol or drug use (or did they even know the kid was doing it)? You see where I’m going here. Lack of parental involvement leaves a void in kids learning how to deal with very strong emotions. Perhaps these parents don’t know how to deal with their own emotions more or less with their kids’ emotions. I get that. But being a friend instead of a parent means that these kids – who really are crying out for help – don’t get the help they need.
Which brings us to the school’s role in all this.
We used to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic in school. That was the school’s job and that’s what they did! You want to do something fun, take an 8th grade test from 1895 (An 1895 8th Grade Final Exam: I Couldn’t Pass It. Could You? | The New Republic)!
Somewhere along the way, however, schools changed and became not just learning centers to teach kids the skills they’d need in life to be a successful citizen, but social centers that did the following and more:
- Feeding centers for kids with food insecurities (I had this)
- Counseling centers for troubled kids
- Disciplinarians for kids who haven’t learned boundaries
- Babysitters for kids who can’t go home
- Parents for kids that aren’t being poured into
- Role models for kids who don’t have any
- Safe havens for kids in danger at home
- Community for kids without a solid family unit
As schools have had to take on a bigger burden in actually raising kids, they’ve also taken on a bigger role in how they help raise these kids – some good some bad. In one local high school where I live, 85 percent of the kids were on free and reduced lunch due to family poverty. Unbelievable.
All this contributes to a kid’s psyche and how he or she views their world.
So, let’s get back to the main issue: Gun Control
I’ve written nearly 5,700 words explaining why crying gun control in and of itself won’t work. There is so much more going on in our society right now and it all needs to be addressed in a holistic manner if you really want to do something about school shootings or any shooting for that matter!
First, you must spend the money on things you don’t want to spend money on, such as mental health treatment and facilities, school security, and (some won’t like this one) intelligence into what kids are posting online.
Second, you must eliminate the constant diet of violence from kids’ diet. Yeah, you’ll hate this one, too, but heavily enforced age restrictions on violent media not just warning labels.
Third, you all need Jesus! No more moral relativism. There is an absolute truth so teach it – even if it’s just the 10 Commandments and Proverbs which tells people how to live. Not everything is okay!
Fourth, legislative action in Congress to hold social media companies accountable and forcing them to report to law enforcement suspicious posts that imply violence. They can do it pretty easily given their algorithms and such.
Fifth, parents must be engaged and that is a community-based effort by other parents not by the government. Parents are struggling and, in my experience, really don’t know the resources available to them. More must be done to help parents with their needs in raising their kids so that they have the tools to do what is expected of them!
Sixth, there are some common-sense gun laws that could be passed, including:
- Universal Background Checks
- Background checks that include mental health reviews or evaluations (I know my veteran brothers and sisters will howl at this one when one has suicidal or homicidal ideation one does not need a gun!
- Hold parents more accountable when a minor child has a gun on school grounds (active shooter or not). This won’t be popular either but if you have kids and you have guns you better find a way to lock them up tight or get rid of them!
- Mandatory punishments for kids with a gun on school grounds.
- More police intervention on ghost guns
Again, I doubt these tragedies can ever be stopped completely but until we take a holistic approach to the society decay that is the causation behind the actions, we’ll never make a dent.
Thanks for putting up with this long rant!
There’s a lot of truth in your statement. I think you missed one important thing though. America can’t fix this problem until we all come to terms with having a problem. You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge. Thoughts and prayers don’t mean much when they aren’t followed by legitimate action. Your discussion about Millennials and GenZ doesn’t seem to touch much on the fact that most of the parental neglect was because the parents were out “living their lives”. It was the parent’s self-centeredness, not the young peoples. Combine that with income inequality, disinvestment in public education, and continual criticism of the young by the elders (you know where I stand on that). And older generations have prioritized tax cuts over investment in the very programs you note in your piece. You get a lot right, I just thought it needed to be expanded a bit.