I might be completely full of shit…. So that’s concerning. Today, when I heard the news about the mass stabbing at a Western Pennsylvania High School, my first thoughts were not of the kids who got stabbed. My first thoughts were, “Oh great, now I’ve got to deal with a bunch of anti-gun control people saying things like ‘I guess now we need Knife Control, right?’ and ‘See? It’s not guns that kill people–It’s people that kill people! What, are we going to outlaw knives?’” And then, when I found out that no one died in the attack, my thoughts were not with the families of the victims and the relief they felt finding out their child was going to live. My thoughts were about using this as another example of how much MORE deadly this attack would have been if this crazed child had had access to a gun. I took the bad news of this tragedy, as well as the good news of the lack of fatalities, and I filed them away in my head to be used some day in the future in an argument. When I realized this fact, I kind of grossed myself out. I hate when I do that….
This week is barely half-way over, and already it is packed full of a theme for me. I work in schools, and on Monday morning I walked into a school and was greeted by an officer with a handgun on his hip. I’ve talked before about this, but seeing someone with a gun does not make me feel any safer–It makes me feel like my chances of getting shot just went up. I don’t think that there are a whole lot of people trying to get into schools to kill a bunch of kids (if it weren’t for those pesky armed guards). I think that there are just some people out there who something snaps and they lose it–like what happened again last week at Fort Hood–and when I see someone carrying a gun, I just think “I hope that person is not the one who snaps today.” Anyway, I thought that school officer was coming out to say hello to us, but he was actually on his way to his car to bring his assault rifle into the school. And I thought about all those kids who, without actually saying it, are being taught that the only way to stay safe is to be protected by a high-powered killing device. It was a rough start.
Then on Tuesday, I went to a meeting at my kids’ school for a thing called Watch DOGS (the “DOGS” stands for Dads Of Great Students), and things got a bit more encouraging. The program basically is about getting dads engaged in what is happening at their kid’s school. We volunteer to spend a whole day at the school, help out however we can, interact with the students, and just be seen. It turns out that having dads walking around a school and high-fiving kids has the effect of making kids feel safer. It’s basically the exact opposite plan of paying a heavily-armed officer to patrol the hallways. When the founder of the Watch DOGS program was asked why it was so successful, he said, “That’s easy–It’s the right thing to do.” Over 120 dads came out to our school to hear about the program, so that was really cool. Of course, there was pizza served, so that might have had something to do with it. And most of us were there because our wives told us to go…. Still–So encouraging.
Then came today. This morning I drove in to work and listened to a story about how Tennessee’s State Senate has passed a bill that would allow people to openly carry guns without any sort of permit. Including in cars. (You can click HERE to find your State Senator so you can call him or her to let them know what a bad idea this is). I just don’t even have the strength to get into all the reasons why this is stupid. I just can’t…. And the kicker is, if you’re stupid enough to think that this is a good idea, you are easily stupid enough to dismiss any safeguards to gun ownership/carrying as some sort of attack on liberty and freedom and the constitution. It was while I was cynically pondering the 25 to 2 Senate vote passing this garbage bill that I heard the news about the stabbings. So forgive me if I put issues before people. Also, sorry for calling you stupid a few sentences earlier…. I’m still upset.
Just a few quick thoughts about these stabbings: 1) I found myself being disgusted at those pro-gun-at-all-cost people, who were surely disappointed that no people died in this attack so that they could use it as an example of the soundness of their ideology…. All while I did pretty much the exact same thing as I dehumanized those who were injured, as well as those who loved them. 2) I really am glad that no one died. I’m glad that this wasn’t another school shooting that left half the people dead. I’m glad the kid who stabbed all those people didn’t get killed. I’m glad the Vice Principal was brave enough to tackle the kid. I don’t want to be the sort of person who uses tragedy to win points in an argument. 3) That being said, I’d rather my kids feel safer in school because of some dads in T shirts reading books and eating lunch in the lunch room than them feeling safer because there is a guy with a gun there.
It’s not an issue of “Guns are good” or “Guns are bad,” and if it was, that issue wouldn’t get solved today. It’s an issue of better versus worse. Dads and uncles and grandpas taking a day off from work to help out at a school is BETTER than placing armed guards at every door. One says, “This is a safe place,” and the other says, “This place wouldn’t be safe if it weren’t for me and my guns.” And one of those things is better than the other.