Guns, or Culture?
Political animals, Hollywood “stars” and the media are still scrambling to appear more indignant than the other over the tragic deaths in the recent Florida school shooting.
In so doing, the solutions they have arrived at while falling all over themselves for publicity are so ludicrous they would be laughable were this situation not so dire. They seek to make a boogeyman out of the NRA and claim that banning a single type of firearm will solve the problem. And if successful, they will pat themselves on the back for being the proud victors over evil.
So who will they blame for the next school massacre?
In the frenzy ignited by the very legitimate outrage felt by all decent human beings over the recent senseless deaths, it’s time that everyone take a step back and think.
The Second Amendment is not the enemy. The NRA is not the enemy. A particular firearm is not the enemy.
The dead and wounded children and teachers deserve more than foolish decisions made in the throes of national emotional trauma or the hysteria of a mob mentality. The truth is that taking a single type of firearm off the market will not prevent another determined madman from taking lives, and anyone who steps back and thinks critically about the problem knows it.
If we are serious about protecting our children, then we must engage in a multi-tiered approach to school safety, including taking a hard look at our societal failures while also implementing effective solutions.
For all who really care to open their eyes and see, one of the greatest failures of American culture is how we ignore the needs of the seriously mentally ill. Does everyone who suffers from a brain disorder shoot up schools? Of course not, but nearly every shooter has been documented with some sort of mental instability.
Yet, as in the case of the Florida killer, not one of the many encounters he had with law enforcement, school authorities or medical facilities resulted in his being placed under consistent treatment. Such a societal tragedy in a nation as blessed as ours is inexcusable.
Another condition that is eating away at the hearts and souls of so many children is the absence of fathering. Boys who grow up without a dad tend to be more violent and more unstable than their peers who have loving, engaged fathers.
Does every boy who suffers from the sadness and loneliness that comes from an absentee father end up taking it out in a bloody rampage on his classmates? Of course not. But the fact is that every boy who has perpetrated a mass shooting shares a personal travesty: the lack of a positive father figure. Yet, pop culture continues to glorify sex without commitment, and our children are suffering the consequences.
The challenges of providing adequate mental health care and restoring the American family will take a long time. But until we grapple with these foundational issues, we can expect to see more brokenness and violence.
As we pray for capable leaders to arise who will champion these critical cultural reforms, we also must focus on avenues to make our schools as safe as possible, as quickly as possible.
The good news is that there is an effective program underway that addresses the specific security issues at individual schools.
Established in 2012, The School Shield Initiative is designed to help local communities conduct comprehensive security evaluations of schools in their neighborhoods. Every school building and campus are different in their own unique settings. School Shield provides free training in how to evaluate the infrastructure, technology, personnel and policies already in place.
Military, law enforcement and other personnel with security backgrounds are eligible to participate in the five-day training sessions that “highlight and reinforce what is being done right, and identify potential areas requiring improvement.” The curriculum has been carefully constructed by security experts, and the training is comprehensive and accredited. After an individual school is assessed, it can even apply for a grant to help pay for the improvements.
Who supplies this free training around the nation? Who provides funds directly to schools to help them beef up their security? The same people who work so hard to preserve your personal safety: The NRA and the NRA Foundation.
You can do something right now to help make the children in your neighborhood schools safer. Visit www.NationalSchoolShield.org to get started. But do more than that — make a list of people you know in other cities and forward this information to them. Every school is eligible to participate in this national program.
Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.