Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Maybe School Shootings Don't Matter
Maybe I was too creative or cryptic in this short little essay. In case my writing is misleading, here's a synopsis of what I'm trying to say:
In China and Japan, attackers of schoolchildren use knives and cleavers. The deadliest school attack in the US was from bombs, not guns (in 1927, no less). The first school shooting in the US? It was before the Revolutionary War, and perpetrated by the Lenape tribe in Pennsylvania. Facts complicate the issue of gun violence. We need to understand that gun ownership is not a human right, nor is it a Biblical right. The fact that the 2nd Amendment exists doesn't mean it's a holy law. Why not look at Switzerland, a country awash with guns, yet no school violence, and a minuscule gun violence rate? They indoctrinate gun responsibility throughout their society. Here, we glorify guns. See the difference?
Maybe it doesn't matter.
Maybe today's killing at yet another public school in America doesn't matter. Virtually all of us are continuing to live our lives like it didn't happen.
Maybe it doesn't really say much about our society that each year in the United States, approximately 34 children are murdered on school campuses across the country. Hey, out of 55 million students from pre-K through the 12th grade, those aren't bad odds. Are they?
Maybe all of the media's hype regarding school shootings stems from the desire of liberal journalists to distort our nation's political debate over gun control. After all, guns may be the weapon of choice by perpetrators of school violence in the United States, but in Asia, knives are favored. Isn't the murder of schoolchildren worse somehow when guns are involved? Then again, do the parents of those slain students think it makes a difference?
Maybe it doesn't matter that school violence in America pre-dates the Revolutionary War, since the first recorded on-campus school shooting happened in 1764 near Greencastle, Pennsylvania. The shooters were Lenape American Indians who killed Enoch Brown, a schoolteacher, plus nine students. And scalped 'em, too. But maybe that's too politically incorrect, and too much of a taboo stereotype.
Maybe it doesn't matter that guns aren't the only way people have killed other people on school property. What about Andrew Kehoe, who killed 45 people and injured 58 more through a series of bombs at an elementary school in Bath, Michigan? That was in 1927, and it remains the single worst mass murder at a school in U.S. history. Without a single shot fired.
Maybe the violence that some people say is glorified in our culture does negatively affect some people, but why should you and I be liable for somebody else's behavior? We aren't our brother's keeper, are we?
Maybe we evangelicals should remember that in God's sovereignty, having kids killed on campus is part of His grand purpose. "There is appointed for each of us a time to die," right? Who are we to question God? And which is more important: seeking to comfort the mourning, or reflexively defending the Second Amendment?
Maybe we should simply arm teachers and school administrators. Take school employees who already have a gun license and train them in special tactics for responding to interior attack scenarios. Supply schools with on-site, in-class deterrents to violence. Make aspiring school shooters think twice about attacking a campus, since they won't necessarily know who is armed.
Maybe the parents and families of these shooters should be held more accountable for the actions of people who are obviously off their rocker. Why should the rest of society have to worry about loose wing nuts whose very families don't take their violent tendencies seriously?
Maybe we should start locking up kids who are mentally imbalanced. Locked up, or publicly outed so they can be watched, or removed from society, or somehow stigmatized even further than they already are. That's what many parents in Newtown, Connecticut, want to see happen. Does it matter that we don't know how mental health is objectively rated, since it's such a subjective topic? And we forget that only a tiny fraction of people who are remotely considered psychotic ever kill anybody. Plenty more perfectly "sane" people kill each other every day while driving motorized vehicles.
Maybe today's violence in Troutdale, Oregon, is tragic simply because we still value the lives of our nation's schoolchildren, even while our society tolerates the scourge of abortion, before babies get old enough for pre-K.
Maybe school violence isn't about guns after all, but about anger, and hate, and sin. Yes; sin. After all, school violence isn't an American phenomenon, and it's been going on for centuries.
Maybe sin is too simplistic-sounding an excuse for some Americans who allow the media to paint school violence with hysteria and novelty.
Then again, maybe Christ-followers who really love their guns, and value the Second Amendment, should advocate for more responsible gun ownership. After all, it's the abuse of rights that often causes those rights to be curtailed. In countries like Switzerland, which has a significant proportion of citizens who own guns, not one case of school violence has ever been recorded, and their overall death rate by guns is one-seventh of ours. What lesson can Switzerland's disciplined love of guns teach us? Maybe that gun violence is all about people, not guns?