During the months following a deadly shooting, the Second Amendment has been thoroughly discussed. To whom should the right to own a gun apply? Should there be a ban on firearms all together? Questions like these generally lead to a heated discussion among friends, but in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, many of the usual arguments are poised to come to fruition. Among these comes an out-of-the-box proposal from Missouri State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal — that parents must register their guns with their children’s schools. Apparently, some people are under the impression school shooters politely ask mom and dad to borrow their pistols.
I understand the concept — the school can maintain knowledge of students who could potentially get their hands on a weapon and be sure parents are more cognizant of what their kids are up to. However, it’s a solution that would only have an effect on those who aren’t a threat in the first place. It’s like putting a Band-Aid on every part of your body except your scraped knee. Sure, the rest of you is OK and safe from harm, but you’ll keep hitting that knee on the corner of every table you meet. Keeping tabs on students whose parents are responsible enough to go through the process of registering a gun with the school isn’t going to prevent many, if any, school shootings. A person who would be inclined to follow this mandate would likely be someone who practices proper gun safety and locks their guns away responsibly.
If this bizarre screening process works, though, and there is a way to pinpoint problem children by narrowing down the ones who live with guns. Even if the parents of a child who is a potential threat to his or her school inform the administration of the guns in their home, what is the school going to do with the information? Follow the student around? Is every shifty-looking kid with gun-owning parents a killer? Certainly not, but it seems people want to believe the pretense of public safety is a reason to treat these students like criminals.
There are often sacrifices to be made when balancing freedom and public safety. One is going to be taken away while the other is enhanced. This controversial topic pops up wherever a regulation about gun safety does. A perfect example of this is the outrage about post-Sept. 11 airport security, specifically TSA scanning. Although not as invasive as TSA, there would be a similar invasion of privacy involved with attempting to keep tabs on students who have guns in their homes. Guessing who is dangerous based on premature judgments of often uncontrollable factors has a name. It’s called profiling. Treating the students whose parents own guns differently from the rest of the population won’t prevent any shootings and will only serve to isolate and ostracize these children. With isolation and bullying often thought to be a contributing factor to school shootings, I don’t see how this could possibly be of any use.
We are a country that wants it all. We want the government to butt out of our personal lives, but we also want them to make sure we are never in danger. Shootings are not distinctly American, but there is a gun culture in the U.S. that drives up the number of deaths by firearms. So far, all we have managed to do is come up with possible solutions that treat the symptoms rather than attempting to cut to the root of the problem. The focus needs not to be on how we can protect ourselves, but how we can get rid of, or at least lessen, the culture of violence that allows for tragedies like the Sandy Hook shooting to be so prevalent.