One day, last December, I woke up to a beautiful, bright morning. Sunlight made the snow covered ground look as if it were filled with stars. It brought back the memory of snowbound days when the outdoors was littered with neighborhood children pulling sleds, toboggans, and making snow angels, snowmen, and snow forts.
We no longer see that in the modern world. TVs, video games, and computers take the place of outdoor play for many children, but it isn't technology at fault. Our children live in a world of fear. From everyday dangers such as speeding vehicles to sexual predators and violent offenders, parents no longer are comfortable when their children are out of sight.
On that late-autumn day, December 14, 2012, this country's parental fears were justified. A lone gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 26 people, mostly children, in less than five minutes.
On reflection, I remembered that during the conflict in Northern Ireland, our schools had a program to bring Irish children to the US to give them a break from the day to day fear and trauma—the bombings and gunfire—that permeated their lives. I don't believe responsible Irish parents would agree to transfer their children to today's violent America.
NRA anti-gun control proponents send their diatribes of fear out over the American airways. More guns, they say, are needed to protect America's children. Their spiels are just more corporate "big brother" efforts to keep Americans scared.
I know that most NRA members are just regular Americans like me. However, memberships make up only a small part of NRA funding. Americans must remember that most NRA funding comes from gun sellers and weapons manufacturers. Otherwise, when three-quarters of their membership favor tighter weapons control, why is it that the NRA ignores their wishes?
NRA speakers like Wayne La Piere are fond of citing statistics. However, we must remember that statistics can be manipulated to prove just about any point. For instance, La Piere maintains that only 2% of all gun crimes are caused by assault weapons. True or false, a 30-magazine assault weapon can destroy many more lives than a six-shooter and definitely more than the muskets used when our forefathers penned the second amendment.
There are other deadly elements in our culture that we can sanction with low statistics.
- Although statistics on the number of commercial aircraft accidents compared to those of private planes are near equal, when a jumbo jet goes down, death tolls are often in triple digits.
- A single bus accident can kill or injure dozens of people, yet there are far fewer bus accidents than automobile collisions.
Admittedly we don't ban jumbo jets and buses. However, both are regulated differently than their small-scale counterparts. For instance, buses must come to a full stop at every rail crossing, while private passenger vehicles must stop only when railroad warning lights flash or barriers block their way. Public (commercial) aircraft standards are stricter than civil (private) standards.
Even automobile ownership is highly regulated. Vehicles must be licensed and, in some states, must pass a regular inspection. Drivers must pass both a written and a behind-the-wheel test in order to licensed. Additionally, drivers must be 'fit' to drive. Those who suffer from conditions such as alcoholism and some medical conditions (for instance, epilepsy) can be prohibited from driving. Drivers must also undergo regular eye tests and those with other physical impairments must have their vehicles outfitted with extra controls. Furthermore, in most states vehicles must be insured.
In spite of the NRA's 2% statistic, regulations on assault weapons and their owners should be at least as rigorous as those for automobiles.
The answer to our violent culture is not to grow our children in a world of fear and more guns. The answer is to take the precautions that allow them to enjoy a safer, more secure nation.