In the wake of the horrifying shooting in southern Florida, we are once again having the talk about gun violence and gun control. But, the fact that we’re “having the talk” has inevitably driven folks mad.
Their argument is that if we’d just do something we can make a difference. We can find some change we can make. Maybe we should ban more guns. Or maybe we should ban fewer guns.
On the Left, we have the usual suspects – the folks who will call for gun bans. These are the people who will probably never be quite satisfied with the number of things they can ban when it comes to firearms, as they don’t see the point in firearms at all. These are the people who will say “This should be banned,” and when it does get banned, something else will come up and they’ll move the goalpost again.
However, on the Right, you have the people who believe that more guns will surely scare the evildoers into submission. It’s the lack of people who can fight back, they say, that encourages crazed gunners to mow down school children. In this scenario, guns not only survive liberals’ actions to ban them but thrive despite them.
Both sides, it may shock you to discover, are wrong.
It is a fact that banning something does not make a problem go away. Having and using heroin is against the law, but that doesn’t stop junkies. Banning child pornography doesn’t stop the sexual exploitation of children. Hell, in trying to decrease schoolchildren’s sodium intake, Michelle Obama accidentally created a black market for salt and other seasonings in schools.
Simply put, banning any/all guns does not stop guns from getting into the wrong hands. But, it is entirely unreasonable to just go ahead and flood the zone with them, as well.
Especially when that zone is a school zone.
A lot of solutions from the Right include allowing teachers with the proper permits to carry on campus, which is a great idea until you realize that a properly disturbed and motivated student will find a moment and the means to take a teacher’s firearm and wreak the same kind of havoc the plan is supposed to prevent.
The other idea from the Right is for armed security to have a greater presence in schools. Often, that armed security comes in the form of law enforcement, and law enforcement (for those who haven’t been paying attention lately) doesn’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to dealing with minorities, of which there are many in schools these days.
There is no easy solution to the problem, but complex, thought-provoking discussion doesn’t make for good soundbites, tweets, and political memes on Facebook. The answers to our problems aren’t always memeable.
The first thing that we have to do is address the culture of gun violence. Our media is absolutely saturated with guns and gun violence, and while I’m not saying I blame media outlets for allowing such easy access to fictional gunslingers and the like, I am saying that we need the adults to step up and do a better job of teaching their kids the rights and wrongs of guns.
The second thing we need to do is start doing a better job of addressing clear mental health issues and stop stigmatizing the identification of it when something like last week’s shooting happens. We have to be willing to say “This person has some major, identifiable issues” and pay attention to the signs.
Ultimately, though, these are cultural issues, and true cultural issues don’t get the proper airtime they need because people want a quick hit – a fast solution – to the problems that are still going on in the world around them. Rarely does that solve an actual problem. It’s time we put in the effort to solve these problems with more than political talking points.