As a human being, my heart goes out to the families who are dealing with the loss of their loved ones in the Sandy Hook tragedy. As a parent, I cannot comprehend the hurt of those who lost children on Friday; such a loss happening so close to Christmas adds a painful reminder for years to come. As a teacher, I ponder my school's response if such an event happens at my school; I wonder if we would be so valiant as the teachers and administrators at Sandy Hook Elementary. As an American citizen, I am concerned about an event like this happening again. Many lawmakers throughout the country are scrambling to address the situation in their respective constituencies. Some of these lawmakers have actually advocated for or enacted legislation allowing teachers and administrators to have guns while in school. One Texas Congressman, when speaking about the tragedy at Sandy Hook, remarked, "I wish to God she had had an M4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out ... and takes him out and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids." A lawmaker from Florida, who sponsored the controversial "Stand Your Ground" law, believes that making gun-free zones on school properties have had an adverse effect. This state legislator went onto say, "In our zealousness to protect people from harm we've created all these gun-free zones and what we've inadvertently done is we've made them a target."
Forgive me if my math is incorrect; I am just a social studies teacher, but I believe that guns plus guns equals more guns, more shootings and more deaths. I would like to ask the Florida lawmaker why he should assume that more tragedies won't come about from teachers and administrators having guns. Clearly, the "Stand Your Ground" legislation has been working great -- two teenage African American males have been killed due to their "threatening" behavior according to men who made their judgments based on stereotypes and prejudicial reasoning. Sure, this lawmaker may be thinking about protecting elementary schools like Sandy Hook, but what about an urban high school -- with students with displaced anger due to poverty, instability at home and the inefficient and ineffective educational structure in which they are asked to learn. Will guns be meant to protect educators and students or will they be meant to protect educators from the students?
Tougher gun laws will not necessarily prevent tragedies like Sandy Hook. Certainly educators carrying guns in schools won't prevent it either. What will prevent more of these events from happening is if violence is no longer glorified in the United States. As a society, we thrive on violence; we seek to be entertained by violence, we resolve our problems with violence and we reward violence with money, power and respect. Our young boys play with Transformers, WWE action figures and kung-fu fighters -- violence is a part of their active play. We watch and encourage our kids to play sports like hockey and football. Americans love a good fight in professional hockey; hockey aficionados will argue that fighting is a part of the game -- however, when there is fighting in basketball, we name call the offenders and rule that fighting has no place; that might have to do with the connotation we as a society have placed on the skin color of the participating fighters, but I digress.
I love watching football myself, but is there any wonder why football is the most popular sport in the United States? Americans love football because we love the big hits; we cheer the collisions, we celebrate the most fierce of football players and we lavish our devotion on those "warriors" who play despite being in pain, having ailments, broken bones or torn ligaments. Prior to football, America's love affair was with boxing... replacing boxing is now extreme fighting, where Americans enjoy two fighters sparring in a cage. The world of professional wrestling, although fake, has made millions by providing America with its share of steel cage matches; some have been affectionately named the Chamber of Horrors and Hell in a Cell -- in addition to the many no disqualification matches, first blood matches and buried alive matches. Reality television (which is not reality at all) has brought violence to the forefront when it comes to resolving conflict... yelling, screaming and often physical altercations take place. Our society has made stars out of people for coming to blows over an issue that wasn't even worth fighting over in the first place. This is the culture that has made Jerry Springer one of America's most beloved pop culture icons... I won't even begin to discuss the music that we consume and the movies we celebrate.
All of this being said, conservative lawmakers would argue and say that it is the parents responsibility to turn off the television; they'd argue that we cannot begin regulating industries that are vital to economic growth in the United States. Whether or not you want to believe it, parents and educators have to compete with such images of violence every day for the affections of our children. While competition is good in the marketplace, it is not good when it comes to the minds of our children. The message being spoken to them is that violence is a way of life; it is how we enjoy ourselves and how we solve our problems, among other alternatives such as substance abuse. You can't say that you are willing to address gun violence in our country and not be willing to address the advertising, marketing and agenda setting of private businesses who profit from the perpetuation of violence in American society. If you really want to deal with gun violence, we have to change the culture of violence in this country. More guns don't make the difference, it just adds to the sum... do the math.