Who hasn't been thinking about guns lately? Unless you've been living in a hole, the debate about stricter gun laws has been at the top of every American's mind every day for a week. First, with the initial shock and disbelief, of children and teacher's being gunned down by someone barely out of his own childhood; and then every day since… courtesy of the media's overproduced stories of the fallout, the children, the burials and all of the families affected.
Indeed, media-coverage is a double-edged sword - providing "news" while inadvertently ripping open the wound again, and again - until we unknowingly become desensitized to it - until both the debate and the heinous act become normalized into our households. This is where we get the saying "any press is good press" - the media knows this, it walks the sword's edge every day, and we are its captive consumers. Heck, any public relations firm worth their weight in salt knows this - it's the dirty little secret of every advertising department around the world (including the NRA's).
For me, this realization - the realization of how affected I was about this week's media coverage - came in a very small way. I was surfing Netflix for movies to watch and started downloading the film, "The Shooter" before I even realized what I was doing. Once I realized the connection, I was horrified, then stricken with guilt, moving to turn it off - and then my brain finally took over - curious and amazed at my behavior. The selection I had made was completely unconscious and without intent, but it was at that moment that I clearly understood the power of the subconscious…and the media.
But I digress. This isn't going to be a conversation about media responsibility, but one about public responsibility. It's one reason why I was glad to hear the President's office support the idea of delaying conversation about gun restrictions, until America began to reel-in from the tragedy, even if only a little. This administration is aware of the power of the media, of how affected we are by it - even subconsciously - and I applaud their efforts in promoting America's psychic self-defense, even as we complain. Loudly.
Even with parents in law enforcement, I never had the desire to learn to use a gun. I kept thinking about how my dad had gotten one of his rifles stolen by one of the hoodlums in our neighborhood, and how it was later discovered that it was used in a crime. Gun ownership is a HUGE responsibility, with complex connotations, and so when a friend finally talked me into going target-shooting with him so many years ago, I couldn't get over all of the potential implications. I could only notice how very proud he was of his collection of handguns. I could tell that he felt powerful handling one - like he was under a spell - and it scared me. It was the first and last time I would ever use one.
And so here I am, more than 15 years later, thinking critically about this again. As a former educator and school administrator, my gut, my experience, and my instinct is now screaming - that WE SHOULD NOT ALLOW GUNS IN SCHOOL. In my opinion, it would be a tipping point with a most deadly double-edge. For while there may be the "Illusion" of safety, our teachers may only become unwitting role-models as gun-toting heroes, normalizing our childrens' ideologies - forever changing their view of the world as they now know see it. Not to mention, it would add another level of responsibility to our teachers' already over-loaded job-description.
As far as contracting a gun-weilding security guard in each school, as the NRA's lobbyist, LaPierre, suggested today, I can only imagine the as-yet untold opportunities for deadly accidents involving children, involving impassioned teenagers - and most certainly, the creation of a fear-driven environment that is certainly not conducive to teaching and learning. It's time the public stood up and CONSCIOUSLY understood the implications, because once we begin toting guns in our schools, my guess is it won't stop there.
Ban assault weapons. Institute stricter accessibility laws. Keep guns out of school.
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