Since the fear and hate are driven by knowledge and information, or the lack thereof, then the obvious solution is Education, right? So, what is the first hurdle to educating our kids about firearms safety universally?
SCHOOL SHOOTINGS!! Guns in schools? Oh! The humanity!!!
Now, with the hysterics out of the way, we can get down to some factual ABCs.
A: School shootings are a modern phenomenon of the late 20th century.
B: Throughout American history teachers and administrators have been armed and even students routinely carried guns to school.
C: Firearm safety used to be taught in public school as recently as the 1950s. Even including marksmanship shooting teams.
Throughout my research on many different topics, the 1960s keeps coming up as a major turning point in American history. This period marks major changes in America socially, politically and ideologically. In this case it also appears to be the point at which gun safety was phased out of public school curriculum. Once kids stopped receiving that education it didn’t take long for states to realize they had made a huge mistake. By the early to mid 70s, states started instituting Hunter Safety Course requirements for hunting permits as more and more firearms-illiterate young people reached hunting age. It was presented as good public safety policy, but was in fact a fix for their mistake that also happened to give the government more control over who could legally carry a firearm and for what reason. Thus the focus on protecting hunters while trying to disarm everyone else. “Nobody NEEDS an AK-47 to hunt deer.” But I digress, the point here is that while the 60s ideological revolution was wrapped in “free love”, “peace” and “flower power” it was cleverly targeted at the youth of America, because the children are our future. The hippies of the 60s, cut their hair and traded their tie-dye for suits then entered the education system and politics. Now here we are today reaping the harvest of the seeds sown 50 years ago.
Throughout American history there have been shootings on school property, they were exceedingly rare and usually were the result of an accidental discharge, personal conflict, suicide or hunting accident on school property. The first modern type school shooting/mass murder happened in 1966 at the University of Texas from the Tower observation deck and “introduced the nation to the idea of mass murder in a public space,” – Pamela Colloff – 96 Minutes (Oral History of the Tower Shooting). That incident was another major turning point of history set in the 60s. The UT tower shooting not only ushered in the era of the mass murderer, but the media frenzy that accompanies it to this day. It also ushered in militarized law enforcement in the development of SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) units. Law enforcement of the time only carried sidearms and maybe a shotgun, it has been reported that the students themselves retrieved hunting rifles from their vehicles on campus and provided cover fire for the police officers to get into the tower to stop the shooter. Subsequent school shooters have even claimed to be fans of Charles Whitman, the UT Tower shooter, illustrating how the cycle of celebrity plays into the equation.
By now you are asking, “Why the grisly history lesson, if fear is such a driving force against your position?” History is a great teacher, both through the accomplishments of the past and the mistakes. The point here is that in our 238 year history, it has only been in the last 50 years that we have become so scared of a tool as simple as a firearm. Something so basic and fundamental to our very way of life. We have much more history as an armed society than as a hoplophobic society. For the first nearly 200 years of our existence, violence of any kind was minimal, which brings me to another 60s turning point in America, VIOLENCE. According to FBI statistics, violent crime in America was extremely low, about 25% of current levels. Though violent crime rates began to climb in the late 60s about the same time the hippies were enjoying their “Summer of Love”. From 1968 to 1993, violent crime rates steadily rose in America, but why? To explain the “why” would probably take several PHD level dissertations, but the “nutshell” version is that our society dramatically changed. Law enforcement grew and personal responsibility waned. Ideals of community withered and selfishness flourished. In the last 50 years we have gone from Norman Rockwell to Kim Kardashian, which has almost brought this nation to her knees, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
We are in the midst of a new ideological revolution, much like the one in the 60s only in reverse. I guess it would be more accurate to say we are in the midst on an OLD ideological revolution reborn in America, the ideology America was founded upon. Since 1993, the peak of violence in America, violent crime has been steadily declining. Some would say that it is due, in large part, to the proliferation of pro-gun legislation at the state level across the country. As the number carry permit holders has grown, violent crimes like homicide have dramatically declined. Like the revolution of the 60s, the future of this American rebirth lies in our children. Educating our children in gun safety and marksmanship teaches responsibility and breeds independence rather than dependence upon government institutions like law enforcement. Education battles fear of the unknown as well as the allure of the unknown. Take away the novelty, curiosity and movie mystique of firearms and ALL of our children will be safer. Safer from accidental injury if they come into contact with a firearm unsupervised, safer in the knowledge of proper handling to identify when someone else is mishandling and safer from the sometimes deadly, yet natural curiosity of a child. Teaching gun safety universally to all children is not the be all, end all of the equation, but it is a definite starting point to securing the future of our children and the nation they will inherit. So, WE must battle through the fear-mongering and hatred of our opponents and educate those who will listen, and more importantly our children, on the history, heritage and responsibility that comes with being an American.
Stop The Gun Hate, Gun Educate!
Jon Britton aka DoubleTap is Chief Operating Officer of CDH, Inc., a regular contributing author and regularly involved in most aspects of their social media. “Writing was never a goal or even vaguely contemplated as a career choice, it just happened, an accidental discovery of a talent and a passion.” A passion that has taken him in many directions from explorations of the zombie subculture and zombie stories to political advocacy. Joining the U.S. Air Force right out of high school, Jon had the opportunity to experience many different parts of the world and different cultures. His post military career path, both white collar and blue collar, allowed him to work alongside both CEOs and average Joes. As a founding member Cold Dead Hands his study of human nature and writing ability found a purpose. His zombie roots provided a variety of issues from prepping to human behavior under crisis to firearms that he applies to his advocacy for gun rights. A ravenous appetite for the study of history combined with his current events political junkie addiction led to him writing an e-book Gun Sense: Past, Present and Future.