The Right Opinion

Are Guns the Problem?

By Walter E. Williams · Jan. 16, 2013

When I attended primary and secondary school – during the 1940s and '50s – one didn't hear of the kind of shooting mayhem that's become routine today. Why? It surely wasn't because of strict firearm laws. My replica of the 1902 Sears mail-order catalog shows 35 pages of firearm advertisements. People just sent in their money, and a firearm was shipped.

Dr. John Lott, author of “More Guns, Less Crime,” reports that until the 1960s, some New York City public high schools had shooting clubs where students competed in citywide shooting contests for university scholarships. They carried their rifles to school on the subways and, upon arrival, turned them over to their homeroom teacher or the gym coach and retrieved their rifles after school for target practice. Virginia's rural areas had a long tradition of high-school students going hunting in the morning before school and sometimes storing their rifles in the trunks of their cars that were parked on school grounds. Often a youngster's 12th or 14th birthday present was a shiny new .22-caliber rifle, given to him by his father.

Today's level of civility can't match yesteryear's. Many of today's youngsters begin the school day passing through metal detectors. Guards patrol school hallways, and police cars patrol outside. Despite these measures, assaults, knifings and shootings occur. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010 there were 828,000 nonfatal criminal incidents in schools. There were 470,000 thefts and 359,000 violent attacks, of which 91,400 were serious. In the same year, 145,100 public-school teachers were physically attacked, and 276,700 were threatened.

What explains today's behavior versus yesteryear's? For well over a half-century, the nation's liberals and progressives – along with the education establishment, pseudo-intellectuals and the courts – have waged war on traditions, customs and moral values. These people taught their vision, that there are no moral absolutes, to our young people. To them, what's moral or immoral is a matter of convenience, personal opinion or a consensus.

During the '50s and '60s, the education establishment launched its agenda to undermine lessons children learned from their parents and the church with fads such as “values clarification.” So-called sex education classes are simply indoctrination that sought to undermine family and church strictures against premarital sex. Lessons of abstinence were ridiculed and considered passé and replaced with lessons about condoms, birth control pills and abortions. Further undermining of parental authority came with legal and extralegal measures to assist teenage abortions with neither parental knowledge nor consent.

Customs, traditions, moral values and rules of etiquette, not laws and government regulations, are what make for a civilized society. These behavioral norms – transmitted by example, word of mouth and religious teachings – represent a body of wisdom distilled through ages of experience, trial and error, and looking at what works. The importance of customs, traditions and moral values as a means of regulating behavior is that people behave themselves even if nobody's watching. Police and laws can never replace these restraints on personal conduct so as to produce a civilized society. At best, the police and criminal justice system are the last desperate line of defense for a civilized society. The more uncivilized we become the more laws that are needed to regulate behavior.

Many customs, traditions and moral values have been discarded without an appreciation for the role they played in creating a civilized society, and now we're paying the price. What's worse is that instead of a return to what worked, people want to replace what worked with what sounds good, such as zero-tolerance policies in which bringing a water pistol, drawing a picture of a pistol, or pointing a finger and shouting “bang-bang” produces a school suspension or arrest. Seeing as we've decided that we should rely on gun laws to control behavior, what should be done to regulate clubs and hammers? After all, FBI crime statistics show that more people are murdered by clubs and hammers than rifles and shotguns.



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Howard Last in Wyoming said:

Dr. Williams, you are correct on NYC high schools having rifle teams. I graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School class of 62 as did my two younger brothers. The guys on the rifle team would take their rifles to and from school on the subway. Surprise, surprise, no one was ever shot.

Here is one thing the school children of today would find hard to imagine, the school was all boys. It was a big advantage as there was no distraction (girls) to learning. Once PC came along in the late 60's it became coed.

My daughter continued the shooting tradition, she started a Rifle Team in her high school, Great Neck South, in 1998. The New York Slimes (oops Times) even ran an article about it. The students on the team were the top academically. They became lawyers, MD's and my daughter a DVM. My daughter also (notice I brag) started High Power Rifle Competition at 14. She competed with a Bushmaster AR-15 (so called assault rifle). She also shot a M-1 in Garand matches. Again surprise, surprise, no one was ever shot.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 1:01 AM

Kevin from Arkansas in USA replied:

Howard: Like you I grew up in NY (Warren County) and though we didn't have any rifle teams we did regularly hunt before and after class and brought our guns to school with us. Now, in Maryland, we have children suspended from school for using their fingers as a pretend gun.

There is no explaining the logic of the Left.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 8:53 AM

David Thompson in Bellville, TX replied:

Oh but there is, Kevin. They want to diminish the rights of the innocent in an attempt to control crime, and coddle the criminals in order to rehabilitate them.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 1:06 PM

MikeEcho in Orting, WA said:

Are guns the problem? Speaking as a grandfather of eight, and a former Scout leader, young people readily accept the customs, traditions and moral values of yesteryear. There is hope for the future. As long as we leave child rearing up to others we are doomed to failure. The process begins at home.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 2:02 AM

Howard Last in Wyoming replied:

Mike, I am a Scout Leader, Two of the Merit Badges I teach are Rifle Shooting and Shotgun. When the parents found out I was a NRA Certified Instructor they asked me to teach the Shooting Merit Badges. I first started shooting with the Cub Scouts some 60 years ago. The first thing the Scouts learn is gun safety.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 12:05 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA said:

I grew up on a farm here in Georgia and every member of the family had at least one gun. They were used for hunting or just plain target shooting. It would have never occured to us to shoot anyone. That's because we were taught to never point one at anyone and to always use safety measures. We also knew that they could be used for protection if need be. Dr. Williams was totally correct when he talked about the lack of civility in todays world. The liberal agenda teaches that if it feels good to you then do it and to hell with who it may harm.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 5:55 AM

Tod the tool guy in brooklyn ny said:

Great blog, Mr. Williams, and like you patriots have been saying, there is NO SUBSTITUTE for conservative parenting!! I sometimes wish I was born during the Industrial Revolution, instead of the Neo-Marxist one!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 6:21 AM

Rod in USA said:

I cannot possibly add anything more to this brilliant editorial. The liberals and progressives are moronic traitors to their country.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 7:19 AM

Sammy in Kansas said:

I too had a gun in my car at High School we used to hunt after school. No one was ever shot and I never even heard of any school shootings. I guess the gun manufacturers are just making "meaner" guns these days.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 9:39 AM

Dioneikes in Colorado said:

I have maintained for a while now, that the Culture of Death that abortion has created, is one of the main factors as to why we are a much more violent society. Younger people have no concept of the value of human life as the very Idea of "my birth was on a whim, otherwise I would've been aborted" can leave one feeling that their life is of little consequence.

It isn't guns that are the problem, its the liberal philosophy of secular statism, "reproductive rights", gay rights, and all the other trash they preach.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 10:38 AM

Leaping Spark in Valrico, FL said:

If you do enough digging you can find the 45 Tenants of Communism located in the Library of Congress, written in or about 1960. This doctrine pretty well explains why we are in this mess. Obama and his predecessors have slowly implemented this doctrine over the last 50 years. The last thing standing in their way to the creation of a third world communist utopia is the 2nd Amendment.

Great article Dr. Williams!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 10:43 AM

wjm in Colorado replied:

Don't really have to do any digging, just read the Democrat Party Platform and the Communist Manifesto, one and the same.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 10:55 AM

Retired Sarge in Rockville, IN replied:

The 45 tenets of how Communism will conquer America. Of particular note is item #15: 15. Capture one or both of the political parties in the U.S. [Note: In his book, "Reagan’s War," Peter Schweizer demonstrates the astonishing degree to which communists and communist sympathizers have penetrated the Democratic Party. In his book, Schweizer writes about the presidential election of 1979.]

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 12:13 PM

David Thompson in Bellville, TX replied:

Sparky, those 45 Tenants were not Communist doctrine. They were an attempt to describe Communism by a "conservative American constitutionalist and faith-based political theorist," who was a Mormon and a supporter, but not a member, of the John Birch Society [Wikipedia: Cleon Skousen]. They may be an accurate description of Communism, but they are not Communist doctrine.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 1:25 PM

Gabrano in Texas replied:

And ... read directly and between the lines of DREAMS FROM MY FATHER by Barack H. Obama

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 3:21 PM

David Thompson in Bellville, TX said:

Long before the leftists started waging war on traditions, customs, and moral values, there were criminals. When Christ was crucified, two thieves were crucified, one on each side of him. We will ALWAYS need police and a criminal justice system, but not to prevent or eradicate all crime; only to protect the innocent by segregating criminals from the civilized society.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 1:03 PM

rab in jo,mo said:

To answer your question Dr. Williams, in a word - NO!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 2:15 PM

Tyrone in Cleveland said:

Great observations and comments, Mr. Williams, as always.
It's not guns, it's a society diseased by shallow or false values, a broken education system and a corrupt political class.
Major surgery and painful rehab required because these folks aren't going to jump off the gravy train on their own.......

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 2:26 PM

Tapdaddy in Indiana said:

"FBI crime statistics show that more people are murdered by clubs and hammers than rifles and shotguns."
We should regulate, regulate, regulate the only way our children will be safe is by decree.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 2:42 PM

Dioneikes in Colorado replied:

Did you really just write that?! Are you that naieve to think that the government once they have taken the guns will care about the other instruments of death. No, the only thing they will be concerned with is how fast they can set up the execution squads to eliminate any who resist their doctrine. We will no longer be free. I will not live as a slave, I will resist ... I will live free or die for there are worse evils in this life. To quote a line from "Open Range" - "There are some things that gnaw on a man worse than dyin."

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude more than the animating struggle for freedom go in peace, we seek neither your arms nor your counsel. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, may your chains rest lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 3:21 PM

BJ in St. Cloud, MN said:

Since the beginning of the "progressive" movement about 100 years ago the commies, marxists, socialists, liberals, have been on a mission to destroy the family and morality of America because people then become dependent on govt. Something doesn't work well after govt screws with it? Add more regulation. Around 1960 I used to take my .410 double barrel shotgun to school in small town MN with no case on the bus, in the cloakroom, and later in the day on the street while I walked to the hardware store to spend the pennies I'd saved on shot shells for the 1.5 mile walk home along the RR tracks. Sometimes I even added a squirrel, pheasant, grouse, rabbit, or duck to the dinner that evening along with the chicken I caught and killed on the farm. I never shot anyone.
Today I took my AR15 with a 90 round drum, opened the bipod, and sat it by my open front door along with a few fully loaded 30 round magazines. I checked on it every 15 minutes and by the end of the day you know that very small caliber rifle hadn't gone out the door and shot anyone. Damn AR15 just doesn't have a mind of it's own!!
In my neck of the woods right now you cannot find to buy any: AR15's, AK's, folding stock .223 Ruger Ranch rifles, FN FAL's. and lots of SEMI auto pistols are unavailable along with almost all ammo being either in short supply of non existent. Reloading components are also out of stock.
Powder, bullets, primers-gone. Cases of almost all ammo-gone. With all that ammo and hardware out there I anticipate large scale carnage, NOT!!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 6:20 PM

Leaping Spark in Valrico, FL said:

Reality is that the liberals and commies among us would rather see peaceful gun owners threatened and perhaps killed, rather then allowing them to possess firearms.
First they will come for the firearms.
Then they will come for the patriots.
Then they will come for the Christians.
Then they will come for the infidels.
Then they will come for the liberals and there will be no one left to protect them.
In the 20th century over 170,000,000 innocent people were slaughtered, tortured, starved, worked to death, mutilated, bayoneted, or hanged at the hands of their own government, because they had no way to defend themselves.
When they come for your guns, give them the ammunition first.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 6:23 PM

ray in nashville, tn said:

By allowing schools run by domestic enemies of the nation, our children have become violent porn stars indoctrinated by left wing regulations.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 7:29 PM