Archived Opinion

Time for a little less gun loving

Time for a little less gun loving

“Hollywood and video games glorify violence while those with mental illnesses remain untreated.“ 

Those are the words of Chuck Edwards, who most likely is the man who will be the new congressman for the 11th District after the election in November. He mouthed those words recently in response to the question of what needs to be done to prevent school shootings like the recent one in Uvalde, Texas. 

Based on his response, Mr. Edwards evidently thinks there would be none of these shootings if we just get those violent images out of the heads of mentally ill people, who we should already know about because we’ve somehow screened, identified and “treated” them, thus rendering them harmless. He didn’t mention at all, however, the possibility that easy access to semi-automatic rifles and such might play at least some role in the level of carnage these mentally deranged types are able to inflict within the space of minutes …. or even seconds.

Neither did he mention, as have many Republican politicians across the nation, the absolute necessity of arming school teachers (just in case a random “crazy” avoids early detection, I suppose). But I’m guessing Mr. Edwards would support that strategy, too, because it just makes sense to some folks to get more guns in the hands of “good guys” … like some of the dearly loved and respected teachers who worked with me at Central Elementary back in the day, I’m sure. (If you’re a Central grad, or former parent, you probably have an idea of some of the teachers I’m thinking about.)

I can close my eyes and still see those wonderful women in action as they interacted with the children in their care — children who loved coming to school and who thrived in our school because of the positive, supportive, and nurturing atmosphere their teachers created. And by adding to my mental picture a loaded gun riding on those ladies’ hips as they interacted with students … well … my heart is simply “warmed” by the very thought. The Beatles got it right, you know, happiness really is a warm gun.

All sarcasm aside, I know a lot of decent people who get pleasure from using their guns safely and responsibly, and guns certainly don’t have to be instruments of the kind of horror and pain we see too often these days. But I have to ask if there might not be such a thing as being just a little too “happy” about guns in America today.

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We have almost 260 million adults (18 and older) in the U.S., and we have almost 400 million guns (that we’re aware of) in circulation. That’s an awful lot of potential “happiness” to be found in America. So, is it not possible that the easy availability of guns is, in fact, a significant PART of the problem? I mean, fantasizing about mayhem while watching a movie or while playing a video game may not be healthy, but being able to walk into a gunstore right after turning 18, and buying — without any questions asked — two semi-automatic rifles and 300-plus rounds of ammunition can obviously have immediate and horrible consequences.

Regulating gun sales by requiring background checks and setting reasonable standards for ownership (e.g., 21 years old instead of 18, required training, licensure renewed every 6-8 years, maybe) is not the same as banning guns. It’s not a “slippery slope” to destroying the Second Amendment, either. It’s just common sense in a nation awash in guns so powerful and ammunition so deadly that our Founding Fathers could never have even imagined such things. 

Sure, responsible gun owners might have to go through a few extra steps before purchasing a weapon if reasonable regulations are enacted. But what responsible person wouldn’t be willing to endure just a little inconvenience if by doing so he or she was helping keep deadly weapons out of the hands of those who have no business even touching a gun?

Maybe Mr. Edwards could open his mind just a bit to consider implementing reasonable regulatory standards as another part of a meaningful response to these senseless and heartbreaking shootings. I hope he will.

John Sanderson is a former principal at Central Elementary School in Waynesville.

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