Mass shootings make up a small, less than 5 percent, amount of all deaths by gun. The number one cause is self-inflicted (suicide). People with a mental illness are far more likely to shoot themselves than someone else because they are looking for a way out of their pain.
Cops are more likely to use their service revolver on themselves than on a bad guy armed with a gun.
The average gun owner will never confront a bad person or have to defend themselves with a gun, but are much more likely to use their gun to kill a loved one in a crime of passion. They are also more likely to see their gun used by a family member in a suicide or crime of passion. And gun owners are more likely to have their guns stolen and used in crimes than they are to ever use it in self-defense.
Our schools today are safer places than any home with a gun in it.
These are the facts we need to remember before we allow knee jerk reactions to guide our policy.
Before we think about arming teachers, consider a few other things. In most schools, it is still easy to sneak in a hand gun. Anyone who wants to do harm to students can sneak in one or two and shoot up a crowded cafeteria before school while all those armed teachers are in their classroom getting ready for the day.
Even if it were impossible to sneak a hand gun into a school, what are we going to do to protect kids when they go to the movies, a mall, or local coffee shop? The NRA would have us believe the answer is to arm everyone, but the reality is doing so would just lead to a lot of good people dying from crossfire and let’s face it, dead is dead.
There is also the assumption the people who are doing these mass shootings are somehow afraid to die so if we arm everyone, they won’t shoot up a public place. The opposite is true. Most mass shooters do not expect to be taken alive. Many, when law enforcement show up, take their own life.
How far do we go to make our schools safe? Do we install bullet proof windows everywhere, hand out bullet proof back packs and purchase bullet proof desks to hide behind? All of this is costly and still does nothing to ensure the safety of kids outside of school.
We really need to consider new measures. First, we should ban the sale of any and all toy guns. Yes, even squirt guns. Children should not be exposed to anything that resembles a gun until they are 21. In a perfect world, toy manufacturers would do this before our government imposes its will.
We need to place serious limits on video games that reward players for their violent reactions. Our thirst for violence goes beyond guns and we have to make it more difficult to brainwash people by allowing them to think realistic looking violent games are a healthy source of entertainment. All the research shows this is not the case.
The time is right, the evidence is there, so we need to end our love affair with a violent sport like football. Also, we need to say goodbye to MMA and even boxing. Sorry, but as long as we call this stuff entertainment, we tell our youth violence is an acceptable form of pleasure.
You cannot restrict what a film maker calls art, but movie theaters can refuse to show films that rely on violence as entertainment. Studios may actually have to come up with something other than comic book heroes or good guys who rely on violent solutions to save the day for their block busters.
And then we need leaders who can find peaceful means to difficult solutions rather than reminding everyone we are the world’s bully. What have our wars gotten us since the end of World War II? Korea is a powder keg. Vietnam, when left alone by Americans, has turned into a prosperous nation. Can anyone say we have succeeded in our post 9/11 wars?
Yes, we can do a better job of protecting our kids in our schools, however, it means nothing if we as a nation continue our love affair with violence. Until we adopt a more peaceful approach to problem solving and entertainment, we are destined to see more bloodshed. Guns may be the tool, but it is our love for violence that poisons the mind. A lot less poison will result in much fewer gun deaths.
Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program.