Monday, April 23, 2007

The Right - and the Responsibility

I'm a military B.R.A.T., which means I grew up in a culturally rich diverse areas. For instance, I was born in the North, but spent most of my years in the South. I lived in Germany and remember some of the "anti-American" and other scary demonstrations, but yet having a German babysitter that was like a nana to me that I greatly loved. I'm also a Libra, and so I often see both sides of any given story or view point.
I'm at that point right now with a few videos I was watching (Yahoo News Videos). The first was about the use of plastic handcuffs in a school setting in order to detain students who are in need of detaining. The board made perfect sense in saying that it is less harmful to put these plastic cuffs on the students than having to wrestle them down as they fight. That one, I am definitely on the board's side. I understand that parents may be concerned that the cuffs might be put on too tight or that the administration might abuse and overuse this approach, but it's for the safety of not only the students involved but the teachers and administration that have to break up such incidents. They don't want their child handcuffed? No problem. Make sure the students understand what earns this technique for detaining undisciplined students and make sure that they know how to avoid falling into that behavior pattern.
It's the second one that I'm struggling with. I watched a video tonight about the Dunblane massacre that took place in Scotland in 1996. It was Great Britain's largest school shooting, and to this date, their only. Why? Because since then, politicians in Great Britain (like Tony Blair) have helped create laws that ban the sale of handguns. The gun used in Dunblane was obtained legally, just as it had in the Virginia Tech Massacre.
Part of me, the part that is terrified of guns, agrees with this. Get the guns off the street. Get them out of the hands of killers. Make them harder to get.
And that's where I get stuck. Make them harder to get. There's an old saying, locks are for honest people. So are laws. If someone wants a gun bad enough, they can get their hands on one no matter if it's legal or not legal. Yes, make it harder. That young man, Cho, purchased his guns easily enough the legal way. The news has reported him as being mentally disturbed and had even been in the hospital for mental treatment. I know he has rights, but so do we. His name should have been put into some sort of database in order to make it harder for him to purchase a gun. At the same time, enforce that any person buying a gun for the first time must take an approved gun safety course. Not just to carry, but to actually PURCHASE AND OWN the gun. Then again, I am naive about the gun law - is this already on the books? I doubt the deal with the mental illness is not. Too many people worried about offending one person instead of protecting the many. The second one, I have heard you have to take a class in order to have a permit to carry. Is it the same to buy?
Why is this part of an education blog, other than the school shootings? Well, the right to bear arms is one of the treasured Bill of Rights we have as Americans. I have no problems with the hunters who use the guns with respect to their sport. I have no problem with those who carry one for protection and have been trained to use it. I have no problem with the homeowner who has one in a lock box or other safe space in their home and has been trained how to use it for that chance of a criminal break-in with harmful intentions. But we as educators need to make sure that when we teach the Bill of Rights we explain that the right to bear arms does not give us the right to threaten or kill someone without due cause. We need to teach the Civic Responsibilities that go along with that right to bear arms. No, I'm not suggesting you have each student go through a gun safety class, but I am saying that it needs to be looked at more closely instead of brushed over so casually.
I applaud Great Britain for their ability to dissolve the right to purchase a gun legally. I don't know if it's totally the right choice for America, but I do know that we have lessons to learn and many lessons to teach.
To help you get started, here's a lesson from (hard swallow) Discovery.

1 comment:

Danielle Abernethy said...

Interesting article:'s+gun+purchase

Looks like another loophole was the problem, not the law.