Saturday, December 15, 2012

Preventing School Shootings - An Exchange With A Friend

What follows is my side of an exchange with a friend about yesterday's massacre. I share her grief; despite our differing ways of thinking about social problems, our hearts are broken together. I hope and pray that we as a nation will start to focus on solving problems rather than scoring points.

Having worked in government for almost 10 years and trying to reform what's inefficient I believe very strongly that power should be distributed and not concentrated in any one sector of society. Also that the more you inhibit people in favor of the machine, the more the abuse of power. When you destroy the Second Amendment you destroy freedom.

Enforce the law we already have, keep guns away from criminals, but train law-abiding people to use them responsibly. Put armed guards in every school or have armed, trained volunteer parents patrolling the grounds. The problem is not guns. The problem is that when this guy started shooting, the school was defenseless.

Imagine that it is your child G-d forbid in the school and you are at work. Do you NOT want someone armed and protecting them? Consider that we have armed marshals on planes. And that we are in a horrible budget crisis. How long does it take to call 911?

Think about it. If you are a criminal then you are not really worried about gun control because you are buying guns ILLEGALLY. But if you are law-abiding and can't get a gun, then you cannot protect yourself.

There are guns on planes. There are guns in federal buildings. There are guns in banks. There are guns everywhere you need to protect people. Sitting around and singing kumbaya or running to the closet is not going to work (note - as my friend pointed out, one teacher did save 18 children this way so it did work partially).

But the bigger issue is not guns. It is that we have a terrible attitude toward mental illness in this country. We marginalize people who are different instead of looking after them, and each other.

The time to intervene is WAY BEFORE there is a problem. But we always fix things looking in the rearview mirror.

The bottom line is that quick fix mantras and relying on big government to solve all our problems can only lead to abuse and repression of individual rights. Everything has its place. We should instead take the difficult path of self-responsibility and sticking our necks out for our neighbors. We desperately need to change our culture toward more self-accountability and empowerment.

Just like when the Jewish people bought land in and founded the modern state of Israel post-Holocaust - and now defend it. We did not wait for someone to intervene on our behalf.

We waste so much time debating so-called morality issues that are nobody's business (like gay marriage). We (speaking big picture, mass culture) have completely lost that sense of community that the U.S. was founded on. Where we looked after our neighbors, where we asked questions of how people were doing, etc. That can of course go terribly wrong (e.g. repressive insular communities that refuse to call law enforcement when needed or that try to operate outside it) but what is lacking is that balance.

As far as extremist radical ideology: Please. Lobbying, marketing, propaganda is not the province of one political party or the other which is why people complain that DC is in gridlock. It is, because nobody can seem to get over themselves, shake hands and do business.

Note: As always all opinions are my own.