Seems to Me . . . The Gun Issue

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By Stan Welch

We find ourselves once again faced with the horror of an armed gunman – an armed madman – stalking a campus and killing innocent teachers and children. Our hearts break and our minds reel at the insanity and the violence. We seek motive when there can be none that justifies the act. We seek remedies when there are none. We once again debate gun control, but the problem is we only talk about it in the midst of tragedy, while we are in the grip of terror.

The time to talk about the role of guns in our society is when emotions are on hold and whatever logic we can bring to bear is most tightly focused. That would allow us to frame this debate outside the issue of the Second Amendment. The right to bear arms is not the issue. The issue is how and where we should bear arms.

Reactions and arguments tend to be extreme and knee jerk on both sides of the question. Those who favor gun control truly believe that doing away with all guns would really stop violence, or at least make it much more difficult to commit.

Even if they are right, the surrender of freedom to accomplish nothing more than inconveniencing killers and madmen seems too high a price to pay. Lost in this latest media circus is a story that came out a few days ago about a madman in China who attacked and slashed 22 school children with a knife. My point, of course, is the availability of any given implement is not the problem.

The problem is the evil that resides in some of us, undetected and latent for years, or even decades; festering inside until one day it erupts. We strive to find social and emotional causes for behavior we cannot comprehend; and without doubt, there are contributing factors in many cases. But there are also certain people among us – A Jeffrey Dahmer, a Ted Bundy, a John Lanza – who are simply evil.

Just as those on one side of the question think that guns are the problem, those who own and favor guns see them as the best, if not the only solution. They tend to think that everyone should carry a gun, just in case such an occurrence takes place. They speak of concealed weapons permits as if having one makes a person a safe and proficient gun owner

Believe me, that is no more the fact in the case of a gun owner than it is a driver. A certain percentage of people who currently own guns have no business with them, just as a certain percentage of licensed drivers have no business behind the wheel.

As far as safety in the schools is concerned, here in South Carolina, we have SROs, or school resource officers, on campus at our public schools. That’s better than nothing, but if a gunman walks onto one end of the Wren school complex and starts shooting, unless that SRO just happens to be at that end of the complex, which covers probably forty acres, that gunman will kill and injure a lot of people before ‘protect and serve’ comes into play.

I don’t advocate arming every teacher or school administrator. As I said, everyone has the right to bear arms. That doesn’t mean they have the temperament or the ability. What I would like to see would be three or four trained members of the staff of a school with access, under emergency circumstances, to shotguns kept under lock and key in various locations on the campus.

Those shotguns could be loaded with non-lethal ammunition – beanbags or rubber bullets. Not only would that make bystanders much safer, but would relieve the involved staff member of the burden of taking a life, even in defense of others.

As long as I’m talking crazy, I may as well throw this in. I think that gun safety should be taught in our high schools, if not earlier, just like sex education and driver’s education. There are a number of gun rights organizations that have educational and training aspects who would be very helpful in establishing such a program, It wouldn’t have to be mandatory, but it should be available.

A gun safety course is required in South Carolina for new hunters to get their hunting license. Seems to me it just makes sense.