With due respect for everything law enforcement officials do to keep us safe, it seems that basically all we are doing is reacting with typical horror and watching re-plays on television almost to the point of being desensitized by it all.
Our problem is twofold.
One, we are incredibly becoming accustomed to these massacres just as we became accustomed, decades ago, to the 6 o’clock news telling of murders which now move us not at all. We have begun to view them as part and parcel of a television and movie culture in which life imitates art.
Two, we are allowing media anti-gun proponents to control and politicize the conversation after each mass killing incident. To anti-gun proponents, notably television news celebrities, each incident is one more argument for restricting gun-owner rights or banning guns altogether.
Have we failed to notice the age of those who are doing the mass killings? They are either kids or young adults, and they are not dumb. They can and will find guns.
I’m convinced that the killers who have terrorized us in recent years understand how weak we are in our resolve to face them down. They know that people, particularly in a crowded public venue, are unarmed. According to every psychologist I have watched discuss the matter on television, the killers also know they are gaining attention, and they love it.
Compare what is happening today to what happened in 1962 at the high school I was attending. I relate this true story out of no measure of nostalgia, but out of a desire to help us see what we have become. One autumn during lunch period, five or six of us senior boys walked to Gerald Smith’s pickup to look at his new gun.
While we were standing in a small circle admiring our friend’s new possession, the superintendent, whose office was in the high school building, walked past us. Pausing, he turned and asked us what we were doing. When we told him we were looking at Smith’s gun, he walked toward us, took the gun from Smith, congratulated him for having a new one, spoke a few words of caution regarding its use, and walked on.
On the seat of Smith’s pickup lay a box of gun shells.
Short of a deep and wide spiritual awakening, such a day will never return to America. Like many other citizens, I pray for such an awakening regularly. Meanwhile, in the spirit of the first century Galilean preacher who said, “Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves,” and in the spirit of the early American Puritans who advised, “Trust God and keep your powder dry,” I say we should pray for a saner society and take some stern action at the same time.
We must arm an adequate number of select people in our schools and on our college campuses.
In addition to regular security personnel, schools need either principals, assistant principals, teachers, coaches, or custodians who will volunteer to receive exacting training and who can pass strenuous psychological testing in order to carry concealed guns.
For college campuses, add students to that list since most college students are of age.
One reason some coaches might consider volunteering is that they are leaned on heavily already in times of crisis. Not to place a burden on coaches, but the truth is they (both male and female) are deservedly viewed by students as symbols of courage and level-headedness.
With secretly armed personnel in each school and on each college campus, we would have responders trained and ready. And yes, I am suggesting that to save lives, one of our well-trained responders will probably have to shoot an intruder; else, what is the point? But what if a gunfight ensued? That eventuality would have to be the most serious consideration in the responders’ training.
Is this suggestion extreme?
It isn’t as extreme as what we have been getting from our youthful, home grown killer-terrorists who need to be sent a message.
The National Rifle Association, Gun Owners of America, hunters, and gun collectors are not the cause of what’s happening in our culture; they understand and practice gun use and gun safety better than anyone. Neither is the Tea Party at fault, for Heaven’s sake. It is the senseless outlook of those who hate guns and have never owned one, the anti-gun lobby, that is keeping us from protecting ourselves.
Roger Hines of Kennesaw is a retired high school teacher and former state legislator.