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Wednesday, July 17, 2019


Gun control the parents’ job

The early ’80s were a simpler time when a parent could take the time to be more than a rent payer or grocery buyer and ensure his or her child stayed far away from guns. This is not to say there were not such incidents, but the occurence of children having guns in schools was not nearly as prevalent as it is today.

When I was in elementary school, I had my very own bully. He was the sort of student teachers loved – he earned good grades, behaved well in class and was always polite. Those last two only occurred when a teacher was around, for when it was just him and me – well, I do not refer to him as a bully for no reason.

This bully tormented me on a daily basis on the playground, and once knocked out my tooth when he thought I would bounce off an oak tree in the schoolyard. My face hit the trunk first and the rest of me followed. The errant tooth was never found, and I endured this torment until the end of fourth grade when my family moved to Texas. Growing up, we always had guns in the house.

My father had an assortment of rifles, shotguns and revolvers in the house for all manner of tasks: hunting, collecting or just home protection. As a child, I was taught to fear and respect firearms – these weapons were not playthings nor intended to be taken for show-and-tell. These guns were never to be in my possession for any reason whatsoever. With a watermelon and a shotgun in an empty field one Saturday morning, my father showed me why guns were to be respected.

When I saw the melon explode, I was awed at first. Awe turned to sheer horror when dad told me to imagine my foot, hand or head in place of the large fruit.

That day I learned guns could possibly destroy whatever their barrels are aimed at. I certainly did not want to be on the giving end of such destruction, so my hands never went near those guns.

I thought of the exploding watermelon during recess. Well, I thought more of the bully’s head in place of the melon. Surely if his head exploded he would not bother me anymore at recess; however, my thoughts quickly turned to the mess created by the shotgun blast that Saturday. He would, after all, not be able to walk around without a head. The concept of death had been creeping in, but it would take the death of my favorite pet a year later to understand the morbid topic.

As much as I knew a gun might solve my problem, I did not dare try to wrangle one from its safe. Guns were for sport, admiration of their design or protection. The latter did not extend to bullies at school and I knew as much, thanks to my dad.

What I would like to know is: Why are so many children today able to get their hands on guns and take them to school? Where is the parental involvement, akin to the kind I had, to teach our youth that guns do not belong at school, much less in the hands of a child?

Every week, news reports pop up from all over this country about some child who took a gun to school – and the subsequent lockdown of the school because a weapon was on school grounds. Too often nowadays, parents want someone else to look out for their children. Parental advisory labels warn parents of music albums with offensive language and parents can look to a movie rating without actually watching a film first to determine if their child can watch the flick.

Not every Disney release is appropriate for children, but parents often do not take the time to first watch these films to see for themselves whether little Timmy or Samantha ought to watch such a movie.

And this is the case with guns in a home. We live in a dangerous world, and often people want to arm themselves to protect what they have worked so hard to acquire. But no thought is given to protecting children from the very instruments meant to protect their progeny.

Parents are the most important, and often the most effective, line of defense when it comes to keeping guns out of childrens’ hands. Lockdowns, suspensions and imprisonment after the fact do much to forever scar a child. Some well-placed parental intervention about the do’s and don’ts of firearms could go a long way to keeping schoolyards safe. Parents can watch the news and think their child will never take a gun to school. Maybe, maybe not. The risk is greater without parental gun control than with it.

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