Tragedy -- Or Golden Opportunity To Pursue Your Political Agenda?

Editorial written by James Baughn on Tuesday, March 6, 2001

from the i've-had-enough-of-this-crap dept.

Monday morning, a student opens fire at a California high school killing two and injuring 13.

Within hours, on Monday afternoon, several anti-gun interest groups issue press releases advocating various gun control measures that would not have prevented the tragedy.

Meanwhile, on Monday afternoon, several pro-gun interest groups issue statements arguing that the school shooting is "proof" that gun control laws don't work.

This is absurd. A tragedy occurs, and the only thing we can think about is our own petty political agenda.

For groups on both sides of the gun control debate, the shooting somehow offers "proof" of their arguments.

If you buy the HCI/ NEA/ AFT/ VPC argument, a disgruntled school student can just waltz over to Wal-Mart or a gun show and legally buy a semi-automatic handgun and unlimited ammunition with his lunch money. And if you buy the NRA/ KABA/ GOA argument, we could prevent shootings if only every adult in the school had a small arsenal in their office which they could whip out in self-defense at the drop of a hat.

As usual, both sides are way out in left (or right) field. Guns are only a small piece in the puzzle.

As long as schools resemble maximum-security prisons, bad things will happen.

As long as schools refuse to enforce swift discipline against bullies and other troublemakers, bad things will happen.

As long as schools enforce draconian zero-tolerance, zero-sense policies against ordinary students over trivial matters, bad things will happen.

As long as schools punish students for non-violent acts, but refuse to punish students for actual acts of violence, bad things will happen.

(Please explain why a student in Jonesboro, Arkansas was suspended for pointing a chicken finger at a teacher, while that posse of football jocks in Jackson received virtually no punishment for kidnapping a student and torturing him. We can only hope that these two incidents are the exception and not the rule -- because otherwise it's a miracle more violence doesn't occur.)

As long as schools coddle bullies and maintain a double-standard between athletes and everyone else, bad things will happen.

As long as schools focus all of their energy on "high-tech" solutions (video cameras, metal detectors) while ignoring the root causes of violence, bad things will happen.

Finally, as long as self-centered interest groups use tragedies as a springboard for promoting themselves and their agenda, bad things will happen.