Thursday, February 22, 2018

The danger of blaming only the NRA

As an author, I feel that it is not my job to get on top of the proverbial soapbox and meddle in contemporary issues through the use of this blog. Alas, as much as I try to stay away from contemporary political discussions, sometimes it is just not possible.

The recent tragedy in Florida has both extreme sides of the age-old gun argument heating up, and insults fly in both directions. This, to say the least, is disrespecting the memory of the victims, and is counter-productive to a rational debate. And rational debate is what is needed if we, as a nation, are going to minimize the risk of future school shootings.

The left is currently screaming for gun control, while the right is holding up the constitution and screaming at the left. Data flies in both directions, both for and against gun control, while in our nation's capitol it is business as usual. When I say business as usual, I refer to the disconnect between our population and our legislature. I don't remember the last time I was excited about any politician running for an office.

I will not delve deep into the issue of gun control, as there are more versed and better-funded groups on both sides who will silence me faster than I can place a period at the end of this sentence. I will say, however, that it is not a simple, black and white issue, and the only lasting solution will come with multiple changes across many fields.

For starters, let's just say that schools nowadays are run by kids who do not fear either the teachers or the system. Many parents are not parenting, and teachers' hands are too-often tied with unreasonable policies; plus, educators are afraid of the very parents who fail to do their job at home.

Likewise, healthcare providers struggle with privacy rules, and mentally unstable individuals go unreported to the proper channels.

Kids are looking up to celebrities, nonsensical Youtube influencers, violent music, and violent Hollywood movies (and who is Hollywood to talk when its own culture is one of abuse – as documented by the rise of the #MeToo movement). There is no fear of God, no fear of anything greater then ourselves, no fear of reprimand.

There is no reason why a threatening student could not be punished, removed from school, and marked in the system as a dangerous individual. Likewise, anyone diagnosed with depression, anti-social behavior, psychopathic or suicidal tendencies should be flagged as temporarily ineligible for firearms purchases.

At the same time, a secure entrance to schools (double doors with shatterproof glass coating) should be standard equipment at all schools. A dangerous individual could be easily detained between the two sets of doors until authorities arrive. This is not just for shooters - it would prevent aggravated custody issues, drunk or aggressive parents, threatening students . . .

Almost every school nowadays has either a security or a resource officer. The people hired to do this job should be experienced, retired LEO or Military, and should be able to use force when necessary.
Most importantly, our culture (or rather the lack of) has to change. Civility is seldom practiced, and rudeness is either tolerated or downright celebrated. Perpetrators should remain nameless instead of given the attention they crave.

There are many other things that could be done without imposing on people's rights and freedoms, however, the point of this post is not that (I got side tracked).

The point of my post was the danger of blaming solely the NRA - which happens after every tragic event involving firearms.

I go to a shooting range frequently, and have many acquaintances who own firearms. To be honest, less than 10% of them belong to the NRA. Most gun owners I know are regular people who lean neither left nor right, and are equally appalled by these atrocities as anyone else.

The extreme left loves to blame the NRA, exaggerates its monetary power, and loves to paint it as the root of all that is bad when it comes to firearms. To this, I’d say that by constantly mentioning it, you are giving it the power.

Remember when the media blamed and credited almost every terrorist attack and plot on ISIS? Guess what, ISIS embraced that attention and used it to recruit more fighters. Its power grew, even if not in the real world, it grew in the world of perception.

By blaming solely NRA, you are giving it media attention, you are giving it perceived power over politicians, and you are limiting the options for a meaningful dialogue, which is what our nation needs to make progress on this issue.

Frankly, if the NRA were to magically disappear, the underlying issues behind gun violence would all still be here. There would still be guns, there would still be violence, there would still be gangs, criminals, mentally unstable individuals, understaffed and under-funded schools, un-involved parents, and violence-promoting media.

To make the world a better place, we need to have a meaningful dialogue, enforce existing laws, provide help for those who need it, and punishment for those who do us wrong.

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