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.
Thank you so much for this.
I do not believe in painting all “pro gun” or all “anti gun” with the same stupid brush. I believe in this society the wheels have come off the bus and we expect ” government to keep us safe from random acts of violence etc. It is totally unrealistic. I think the “DADS” idea is great on a number of levels. hopefully they will get some training and guidance. Although I personally am pro gun
I do not believe it prevents random violence. I believe it offers defense when it happens.
I do believe the members of our communities need to be aware of the people in distress around us. There is no one right answer or solution.
It’s important to point out here that in many other places around the world (and certainly in every other advanced economy), people are to a much greater degree protected by their governments from random acts of violence. It happens of course, but not nearly to the degree that it happens in the U.S. If the problem hasn’t been solved, it’s at least been mitigated to a point where most Europeans or Japanese or Koreans don’t even have to consider the possibility that they, or someone they love, may one day be a victim of gun violence, much less random gun violence. We actually CAN protect ourselves – the equation isn’t that hard to figure out, we’ve been given the answers… but it won’t happen while we still have to live with the idiotic guns-at-all-costs philosophy that poisons most Americans.
Although I am strongly against the idea that only trained “Government Officials” should be the ones to
benefit from the second amendment, I do believe your summation in the last paragraph about “Dada, uncles and grandpas” being involved with children hits the nail right on the head! Good Post!
Parental involvement and behavioral intervention are critical to preventing school violence.
I love you for saying EVERYTHING I feel & think so intelligently, thoughtfully & articulately. THANK YOU! Please keep writing these posts! You are a shining light in a dark “Christian” world!
While I too am also a believer that people should be able to own guns, there definitely needs to be some restrictions based on who can own the guns. Here in Hawaii we have a very strict background check process and your handguns need to be reregistered every year (and you go through the background check again). I personally do have a permit, but my husband does and I know that the restrictions in our state are pretty stringent (and for good reason!). I totally agree with what you are saying that these pro-gun at all cost people are too much. I mean cmon, we definitely need restrictions on things, and that way we can find some sort of middle ground between our constitutional rights and just having plain old common sense.
That being said, I really like the Watch DOG idea. I teach a parenting class in our prison systems to incarcerated fathers and I am a firm believer of the power of an involved parent. We have become a country that has become so used to blaming everyone else for the issues that our children develop instead of looking at the foundation of where our children learn their values (in the homes.) Im not saying that parents are to blame for everything that their kids do, but the majority of the time, the issues really start in the home. (My full time job is a social worker for children with mental health issues so I see first hand the need for more interventions in the home.) Its very enlightening to see how these dads in the prisons really understand how their choices have really affected the lives of their children.
That being said, this is a great article. I fully agree that parental involvement in a much better answer to keeping kids safe in school than assigning an armed guard to each school. I really hope that Hawaii starts developing some of these programs here in our schools. (And contrary to popular belief that although we live in ‘paradise’, we have more than our fair share of poverty, drug use, murders, assaults and other social issues damaging our communities.)
So very well said, as usual!
Speaking of hostages and killing, the people making the t-shirts for the dads program are making a killing. I think my brother in law said they were $15… with $7 shipping. Well played.