Friday's awful tragedy in Connecticut has left me pondering. I tend to spend way too much time online and often I get sucked into reading stories and the comments that follow or spending time on question and answer boards. In response to Friday's shootings, the debates are raging over gun control, awareness of mental illness, and school security.
I truthfully don't know all there is to know about gun laws in this country. I only know what the second amendment says about having the right to bear arms. I do know how to shoot a gun, not well, mind you, and I don't own a gun and nor do the majority of the people I know and spend time with regularly. But it seems to me (personal opinion, not based on any facts or statistics or laws) that guns do not cause people to act heinously, nor does access to guns. Guns aren't the only type of weapons out there--people can find out how to make a bomb from the Internet--not to mention knives, axes, screwdrivers, rocks, baseball bats, automobiles, etc. In fact, if you think about it, since guns came about, people have owned them and used them and it's only been in the last few decades where we've had a rise in the number of such mass civilian shootings. So I'm not sure that gun control laws would be the solution to this problem.
Mental illness is a big issue and a very real one too. However, from what I understand, not all the shooters in these types of cases were dealing with a clinical mental illness. Many of them had simply felt victimized or "screwed over" in life and had a lot of rage. I guess excessive rage can be a form of mental illness, but anger is something we can all learn to control. However, most people can't be forced to learn to control their anger, even if a judge assigns them the punishment of taking anger management classes. They will still choose what they get out of such a class. I do know there are a lot of people out there who deal with very serious mental illnesses, but the majority of them aren't going and shooting up an elementary classroom. So is mental illness really at the root cause of such a tragic occurrence?
That brings me to school security, or security in general, I guess. Many of the people on the sites I frequent are blaming the school for not having enough security. However, if you really think about it, what could they do to make a school more secure? People suggest metal detectors. Many schools already have them. People suggest a police officer guarding the one entrance to the school. A gunman with rage could easily take out one cop. Many schools already have screening processes (most do not truly make schools safer, either, as someone without a history of crime would easily pass the process). The school my children attend has one open entrance during the day, all other entrances are locked and require a key card (worn by teachers and staff) to open, and the one entrance goes straight to the office where you have to check in. However, you can easily see how this could be bypassed. A gunman intent on getting in a school could take a teacher or staff member hostage and force entry by the key card or they could skip the office altogether and not check in. In the case of many school shootings, the shooter was a student. A metal detector may have helped in such a case, but there are ways to get past even that. Clearly there are ways to get past such devices or there wouldn't be any "terror scares" in the skies in America anymore since airports have such heavy security that we must all pass through. And personally, I don't want to have to go through such security just to drop off something to my kid at school or check them out for a doctor's appointment.
So then what do we do?
In order to
fix these problems, we need to focus on where everything begins–the family. If families would stay together and
teach children to love one another, they would grow into adults who
would do the same thing. There is a lot of anger out there–a lot of
people harbor anger and grudges and cold hearts. Even on Internet forums (even on Facebook where we KNOW each other!)
you see name-calling and bashing and unkindness. When parents are
unkind and uncivil, their children learn that. Even if they have a
tight-knit family, if they are teaching these attitudes and habits, that
is what children learn and they will behave the same way. It’s become
okay to act out in rage over the smallest, silliest things. When you
hear of stories where a parent becomes outraged over something, most
people stand there nodding their heads in agreement–that parent was
right to react that way. Road rage, kids’ sports, etc., the list can go
on and on. Yet we as a society have become more accepting of such
behaviors because we feel we are “entitled” to being mad when our
feelings get hurt. We have forgotten about forgiveness and love and
those two things together have the power to change the world. Banning
guns, treating mental illness, increasing security everywhere…those all
seem to be logical solutions, but the solution truly lies in changing
men’s hearts. Until that happens, we will always be hearing these
stories in the news.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is what will change men's hearts and keep them from turning cold. Gun control, mental illness awareness, beefed up security might make a tiny dent in the problem, but the real problem lies in men's hearts. That is where the change needs to happen. Taking the Gospel, a gospel of love, to all the world is the only thing that will initiate true change. Not an easy thing to do, for sure, but the way I see it, all these other things are like putting a bandaid on an arterial cut--not going to do a whole lot of good.