Americans can be pretty indifferent, perhaps even callous, when tragedy strikes a small group or fewer of adults. Although we were moved by Columbine and Aurora, our concern lasted at most a few weeks and nothing was done to change America. But, perhaps, Newtown, will be different because the massacre of the very young truly does tug at the heart of most Americans, the National Rifle Association (NRA) being a notable exception.
It is the massacre at Newtown that really started me thinking. I admit I have always been opposed to guns. I think Americans are too quick to embrace the OK Corral mentality and too slow to embrace peaceful resolution of disputes. But I recognize, also, that gun ownership in America is a right, so confiscation of guns and their banning simply will never work here. The question becomes, what can and should we do? What small step can we take that can appeal to all sides of the debate?
I struggled to find the answers until I realized that I was looking for a short-term solution rather than a long-term solution. As soon as I shifted thinking gears, I began to realize the answer really lies in changing how we Americans deal with each other and the need to culturally become a society on a single level.
I consider it unnatural for a parent to outlive their child. I realize that it happens and will always happen from causes over which none of us will ever have control. But some causes we can control, guns being one of them. With that in mind, and looking for a long-term solution that will ultimately level “the playing field” for American society, I have come to my modest proposal.
The NRA’s solution to put a gunman in every school as a deterrent, simply won’t work for many reasons. First, is the question of cost. Not only the cost of salaries and benefits, but of insurance. Americans are already grumbling about their taxes, how many will voluntarily pay even more in taxes to fund this idea? And who knows — today’s sane gunman can become tomorrow’s crazed killer. Perhaps more importantly, one or two armed guards have already proven ineffective, witness Columbine.
So the NRA’s idea is no idea at all — what else would you expect from an organization that would prefer to cuddle with a gun than with another person! But equally untenable is the antigun lobby’s vision of a gun-free America. Until people like Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court justice, begin to think and accept that America has changed since 1783, America can never be gun-free.
Yet I want my children to be safe in school. What to do?
My modest and humble proposal is this: Before any child can be registered to attend school for the first time, require that child to learn to use a gun and earn a license to carry a gun. That’s right — arm every 5-year-old and keep them armed as they progress through school. Of course we would need exceptions for pacifists, mentally and physically disabled, and perhaps a few others, but we should view this just as we view vaccinations.
The first few years would remain uncertain, but by the time every kindergartener through sixth grader were attending school carrying a gun, American society would change. Sure we might have an angry first grader or two start shooting but we could control the damage because every other first grader could fire back. We all know that bullies succeed only when the bullied are afraid of them.
I think arming the students would also help improve our education process. Teachers would become more aware of the needs of their students, perhaps there would be fewer slouchers among them who are only trying to bide their time to collect their pension.
This could also be a way to discover the students who will become mentally unstable. When we find them preferring their pistols to their teddy bears we can focus a sharper eye on them. When we see that they prefer to play cowboys and indians with live ammunition rather than with water balloons or cap pistols, we will know that we need to reassess having giving them a license and consider starting therapy. Arming children would be our early warning system for mental deviation.
Because this would create a whole new future market for gunmakers, we could keep costs of the program low by requiring gunmakers to provide every student with their very first pistol and 250 rounds of ammunition. It would be like what was originally done with razor blades by King Gillette — give away the razor because users would then have to buy the razor blades.
This proposal would be good for everyone. The NRA would fulfill its dream of having a gun in everyone’s hand. Liberals would instill confidence in their children, eliminate bullying, cut down on rape and sexual molestation of their children (if I were a predator, I’d think twice before trying to molest a pistol packer — wouldn’t you?). Conservatives would no longer feel obligated to sit through boring church sermons because preachers would be afraid of triggering a negative response in a parishoner.
Arming incoming students will change the social dynamic in America. We may continue to be divided by money classes but otherwise we would all be part of the same social class. We could reduce unemployment because we would now have a need for many more firing ranges and instructors. Unemployed veterans could more easily find work. There simply is no end to the positive that could and would come from arming kindergarteners. (I dare that abusive father or mother to be abusive to a pistol-packing kindergartener!)
And think what this could do for the safety of our country. Within a decade, we would be nearly invasionproof and if we had to raise an army of millions, we could do so more effectively and quickly because we could avoid having to waste time trying to teach new soldiers how to shoot and kill — they’d already know from the good education they got in schools, which would assure us parents that our children at least learned something while in school.
The only negative is bars and liquor. But by starting early, maybe we could do away with drunk guntoters. If not, well, it would be no different from drunk driving — just ask the NRA.
On the other hand, perhaps it would be better to ban all guns and require peace and love courses.
(In case someone misses it, the above is intended to be in the vein of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” and not taken as the author’s view of what really should be.)