Back when I was in high school in the 1980s, lots of students had rifles and shotguns in their trucks. I’m sure there were a few pistols in glove boxes too.
Several of the guys and maybe a few of the girls at Lynn Camp carried pocket knives. One day I remember my biology teacher asking the class if anyone had a pocket knife. She wasn’t searching for weapons. She just needed to cut something.
Strange thing was that despite the presence of weapons relatively close by, we never had a shooting or stabbing at school.
Even the biggest redneck outlaw in school wouldn’t have done that. We knew there were some lines you didn’t cross. Whatever our other teenage faults might have been, we appreciated the value of a human life.
If having guns or access to guns truly resulted in violence and shootings or was responsible for it, then there would have been a shooting at nearly every high school in southeast Kentucky in the 1980s. There wasn’t. It was unheard of in this region and most of America then.
This brings us to the recent school shootings in Kentucky and the one last week in Florida. People are yelling and screaming saying that we need gun control. We need to outlaw assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines. We need universal background checks for gun sales.
People are in pain. They’re scared. People want to be able to say that all this wouldn’t be happening if not for assault weapons and so forth, or least that seems to be the implication. After all inanimate objects make for a pretty good target for their blame, even when – ironically – it happens to be guns in this case.
The problem is assault rifles aren’t responsible for violence any more than the guns that my classmates had in their trucks in the 1980s. Granted guns can certainly be an instrument of violence and death, but they aren’t the cause of it. The gun itself doesn’t do anything unless someone loads it with ammunition and fires it. I think this is a point that a lot of people are missing.
The first recorded murder in human history was when Cain killed his brother, Able, with a rock. Like a gun, the rock didn’t hate. The person wielding it did.
We can outlaw assault rifles. We can outlaw high capacity ammunition magazines, but people will still find a way to kill.
Even without guns, people filled with hate will still find a way to kill and maim large numbers of people. In France, they did it with a large truck. In Boston, they did it with bombs made from pressure cookers. In Oklahoma City, they used fertilizer to make bombs and blow up a federal building. On 9-11, nearly 3,000 people were killed thanks to 19 people using box cutters and commercial airplanes.
Sure mental illness may play a role in some of our shootings, but I think the root problem in many cases is people being filled with so much hate that they want to lash out and kill their fellow men, women and children. Banning inanimate objects, such as guns, pressure cookers, airplanes, box cutters and fertilizer, will only be a temporary band aide at best for our problem. The sad truth is it doesn’t take creativity to find ways to kill people and large numbers of them at that without using a gun. It only takes a quick look at the Internet and the evening news.
We have to find a way to teach young people the value of human life and the fact that there are some lines you just don’t cross. Society has seemingly failed this generation in teaching those lessons or so it seems sometimes.
As far as solutions to these problems, it will take someone far wiser than me to give you answers. All I know is that until we recognize what the underlying problems are, this cycle of violence will continue to get worse.