(Teardown tomorrow; current events prevail)
I was reading the comments on a NY Times article about the recent shooting in Chardon. This happened way too close to home; Chardon is around half an hour from where I live and I’ve been there many times.
I was talking about this with En the day it happened about how the first thing that will be blamed is the gun involved.
Sure enough, that’s the first thing that everyone is blaming.
If you’ve read the blog you know I have guns. That, I’m sure, will bias your opinion of me and my ideas. I’m going to kindly ask you set those opinions about me aside for a moment and let’s have a rational, non-ad hominem, debate and discussion.
I’ll lead off with the obvious — what happened in Chardon is tragic. No one can argue that. The focus must be on what we can do to prevent that in the future.
The reality we live in — here in the US — is one where guns exist. That genie can’t be put back in the bottle no matter what you want. It’s been proven time and again that additional gun laws don’t affect crime statistics; definitionally, criminals don’t follow the laws. Laws only affect the law-abiding. Repeatedly, however, every time a crime occurs with a gun people call for additional regulation. It doesn’t affect crime because guns can be had illegally. Do you think the murderer could buy the gun he used legally? No.
The problem is that society is looking for the proverbial silver bullet. In the past it was that loud music, then it was Dungeons and Dragons, then movies, then video games. We look for excuses to not blame ourselves for our own collective lack of parenting. If the blame can be moved away from us then we can smuggly look away from us confident that we did no wrong. This is us as a society looking to avoid the consequences of our own actions.
That philosophy is defective.
In this case we need to look at the parents (or wherever this kid acquired the gun). Why did this child have access to a gun? Why weren’t the parents involved in his life? What are the consequences when you handle, or mishandle, a firearm? If the firearm was obtained illegally (i.e. black-market sale as opposed to picked up off the dresser) then how would the parents or guardians not known and where did the money come from?
I remember growing up with my dad showing me his .22 pistol for the first time. I remember plinking away at my uncle’s pond. I remember shooting a quarter that I propped on a stump and — holy crap — that coin was messed up. Cause; effect. Now, what I would do is prop up a melon or something and shoot it with a .45 hollow-point; the fruit is here one second and gone the next. Even more dramatic. Action; reaction. It’s not like a video game where you re-spawn. It’s not special effects like a movie. It is real.
You need to teach your kids empathy. How to treat people.
Some kids are defective and can’t be thought that effectively. I’ve unfortunately known some. Now it’s incumbent on the parent to ensure that that child does not get a firearm. Get a safe — two preferably. Lock up the gun. Separately, lock up the ammunition.
Even then, don’t keep it a mystery.
If junior wants to shoot, take them somewhere safe like a range and let them shoot in a supervised manner. Kids are curious. If you tell them “no” then they’ll find a way around it. A conditional “yes” goes a long way.
If not a gun, why not a car into a crowd? He was old enough to drive. Or a knife. Or a bow?
The same thing goes with “bullying.” Talking about this concept in the abstract makes it a thing unto itself. You can blame the thing without doing anything about it. Kids are good at bullying, picking at everything that is different about someone. Kids get that from us. Look at the It Gets Better Project with respect to GLBT kids, then look at churches and politicians, then look to yourself. What are your views on gays? How are your projecting that onto your kids? I’m using this as an example, one of a myriad that I can choose from. Race. Gender. Ethnicity. Trade. Class. Income. Pick one. What are your views on it? How are you talking to your kids about it? How are you talking to your kids about those people?
This starts to go along the issue of god. The other side says that the reason is lack of God in schools. This is the same false premise. This is blaming the absence of something “in society” or “in school” as the reason. Again, it’s pointing away from yourself.
Same with all the folks that blame the teachers, principal or school. “Oh, it’s not my fault, that’s who you should look at.”
It’s not any of that.
“It’s not my fault, it’s [fill in the blank]”
The same thing we’re say about the kids not having a sense of consequences is the very same thing that can be said about ourselves.
It’s time for us all to stop looking for something to blame, rather we need to look inward to ourselves. This isn’t something that can be blamed. This isn’t something to be regulated. This isn’t something to be made illegal (hint: it already is). This is us.
We have to accept responsibility personally.
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After I wrote this I read an article wherein the suspect basically random. He was described as “not well” by a prosecutor. I stand by what I’m writing though.
In the end the individual is ultimately in charge of their own actions and is responsible for those actions. If not that then his guardian(s).
Sick people do strange things; some things are more-or-less random when the wiring is all messed up. It’s not a happy place when you can’t point a finger at any one thing.