So a malcontent walks into a school and starts shooting at people randomly, killing 17. Despite the irrefutable fact that a school-age child is more likely to be killed on their bike on the way to school than from a bullet at school, some victims of the carnage that left 17 dead declare “enough is enough” and organize protests and walkouts. They demand “commonsense” gun control measures, but never really tell us what those measures exactly are. Should we even listen to those who survived the school shooting especially considering that most of them are not old enough to legally purchase alcohol?
The notion that minors have some special moral insight because of their innocence is chiseled in the phrase, “Out of the mouths of babes…” Perhaps we should consider another phrase: “Children should be seen, not heard.” There is no denying that the issue of gun control is one better left to adults since minors, especially those who know squat about guns let alone the Constitution, cannot hold their own in a debate on the issue. The only thing kids these days are experts on is what it is like to be a kid these days. From a cognitive standpoint, high school age kids may be at the peak for absorbing knowledge, but they are years (indeed, decades) away from something called “wisdom.” And there are numerous psychological studies and surveys that prove this fact.
Decades of surveys have proven that political knowledge directly correlates with age. As a general rule, the young know less about government and policy than those in older age groups. Because of this fact, they are less likely to proffer valuable insight on how to address difficult issues like gun violence. Of course, there are always exceptions to the general rule. There are likely many young people who could articulate a good argument for gun control and there are likely older people who are politically ignorant, or dumb. However, I proffer the many young people who protested in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting fail the test of articulating a valid argument other than those spoon fed to them by others.
If schoolchildren were likely to be victims of gun violence while at school- a hypothetical situation- the mere fact they are victims or even highly potential victims does not make them good advocates for gun control policy. Being a victim does not bestow upon you some special insight in how to avoid future victims. Do we consult survivors of airplane crashes on aviation safety? Does anyone consult the victims of car crashes on how to make a safer car? Hence, does the survivor of a mass shooting at a school suddenly become an expert on gun control? Even the experience of being the survivor of the Holocaust or a Gulag does not make the survivor a sudden expert on how to avoid the next Hitler or Stalin.
Therefore, given the lack of insight and contribution to the debate, all we are left with is emotions. It is easy to denounce their intentions and those who do the denouncing are often described as unfeeling or callous. We are reminded, because they are victims, to back off. But are immediate emotional reactions a good way to develop policy prescriptions? Does allowing them to seize the pulpit advance the discussion?
Take, for instance, the reactions- based purely on emotion- in the aftermath of the Columbine shootings. School shootings are extremely rare occurrences, yet no less horrific and loaded with emotion. No one in their right mind wants to see them happen. In the wake of Columbine, schools adopted “zero tolerance policies.” As a result, we saw a student suspended for designing a clock, another student suspended for a Pop-Tart that “looked like a gun,” and a girl who gave another girl a non-prescription pill for menstrual cramps likewise suspended. There are certainly more examples out there. While we’re busy chasing down Pop-Tart eaters and clock designers, the real problems are lost in the cracks. And why is that? Because the “solution” was one based on emotion.
Are we to simply ignore the young and the victims? Some may very well have well thought out ideas, but this writer ventures their numbers are few. Government policy needs to be based on reason and evidence. So-called “assault weapon bans” did little to decrease gun violence. In fact, after the ban was lifted, gun violence actually decreased. Liberal gun-grabbers still to this day cannot explain why.
Because it is imperative we appeal to reason and evidence, it is also imperative that we avoid the emotional aspects. It always pays to be skeptical when someone is driving the narrative purely on emotion. Kids are great at emotional manipulation and for that reason it pays to reject their arguments or view them with suspicion. It is fine when they can “organize” national walk-outs and rallies in Washington. But when they do, they only put on full display their utter ignorance of a subject they know little about.