FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK: The issue is bigger than gun control
By VERNON ROBISON
Sufficient! Sufficient! Sufficient!
It was a word repeated over and over in frustration during a prime-time address to the American people given by President Joe Biden on Thursday night last week.
This feeling is something the whole nation feels – especially after the horrific events in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, where 19 elementary school children and 2 teachers were shot in cold blood. No one disputes that there is a serious problem in this nation: a problem of violence.
Yes, a big part of that is gun violence. We have seen this happen too often in public places across the country in recent years. “Single-shooter incidents,” we’ve come to call them. And no one would argue with the president that we’ve seen enough.
Of course, to be fair, violence in our country is not limited to incidents involving firearms. It’s a much more widespread problem than that. We have seen people arming motor vehicles to injure and kill other people. There have been numerous incidents involving explosives detonated in large crowds of people.
There are videos regularly posted on the Internet showing everyday people getting angry over something trivial, quickly coming to blows, and beating each other in public. There is bloodshed between students in classrooms at school. Sometimes these acts of violence even turn towards teachers. We have seen unnecessary police violence against citizens on occasion. More frequently, however, there have been brutalities against police officers. We have seen riots, looting and chaos on the streets of our cities.
We have even seen acts of violence at the very seat of our republic, the United States Capitol. The value of human life has become cheap in this country and there is a disturbing lack of love and respect among people for their fellow human beings.
What happened two weeks ago in Uvalde was both tragic and horrific. But that’s just the most current and vivid tip of the iceberg of this ever-escalating pandemic of violence.
No one would dispute the president’s assertion that we’ve seen enough. Everyone agrees that it is no longer time to act. We are all united on this point. Now if only we could give up politics for a while and do something about it.
But Mr. Biden’s speech last week gave little hope of that. The President has gone from expressing concepts on which we all agree to issuing divisive political ultimatums. He repeatedly faulted congressional Republicans for refusing to act before. Then he warned that if lawmakers don’t act this time around, voters should turn their “outrage” into a political weapon and make it the central issue in November’s midterm elections. An olive branch!
If the president is serious about solving this problem of violence, he will have to mobilize a unified nation. That moment may be now. But no problem will be solved by sowing division, nor by being so blatantly and politically selfish.
Now is not the time to start ticking boxes on long-standing political wish lists. But that’s the first place Mr. Biden went: to gnaw at the toxic old bone of gun control. His emotionally charged language on this divisive topic and his accusatory tone toward 2nd Amendment supporters seemed calculated to widen the divide rather than bring people together.
Certainly, there may be new gun control measures that should be considered. The public seems open to this. For example, perhaps some precautions should be put in place to prevent mentally ill 18-year-olds from buying semi-automatic assault weapons without checks and balances. But to say that the endgame really should be a complete ban on all assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, as the president did in a moment, only erodes that common ground before foundation can be built.
Let’s face it: these same old and worn gun control proposals only trample on the larger problem of violence anyway. Yet Mr. Biden’s speech was heavy on gun control proposals. but positively anemic on anything else.
To be fair, the president nodded to bolster mental health resources. But it was all pretty sketchy. He obviously hadn’t thought about the details about it. Tackling the pitiful state of mental health in this country is essential if we really want to solve this problem of violence. Gun control is the easy and inescapable political solution. To truly address this, we must come together as a nation to strengthen and support families to support the millions of people – many of them young people – who are suffering desperately. Adopting gun control measures will NEVER solve this problem.
Moreover, Mr. Biden made no mention of the need to close the gaping security gap in our schools. He wrung his hands and recounted how elementary schools had become “killing fields.” But isn’t this fundamentally a security issue? It is not difficult to strengthen security and keep people safe.
For example, wherever the president goes, he takes with him a battalion of armed guards. This makes it relatively safe and prevents attacks against it. Simple!
Additionally, we spend hundreds of billions of dollars every year on a strong military and on federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Officers of these organizations are authorized to use lethal weapons, when necessary, to ensure the safety of the American public. We provide that of course, without even batting an eyelid.
But every day, parents in this country have to send their children to school in “gun-free zones”. The “arms free” designation is no doubt made with good intentions to keep children safe. But how did it work for us? Not so good.
Our schools have a security problem, pure and simple. This problem is well known and makes our children sitting ducks for all kinds of violence. This security hole can be closed in several ways. it’s not rocket science. But this will not be solved by “weapons-free zones”.
The very idea is laughable. Such designations only tend to make the area “weapons free” for the good guys. The bad guys obviously don’t pay much attention to them. In fact, they are attracted to them. Thus, schools have become “killing fields”.
Unlike gun control proposals that keep important safety tools away from the good guys, ensuring real safe schools gets to the heart of the matter. Anyone genuinely interested in ending violence in our schools should be willing to talk about it and work out the details. The president didn’t even mention it last week. What does this say about his intention to really solve the problem?
Mr. Biden was right in his speech. Enough is enough! It’s a rare moment when no one discusses this point with him. It would be a shame to waste it.
But this cannot become political. It shouldn’t be about retaining a majority in Congress this year, or keeping control of the White House in 2024. Now is not the time to pull out that same tired old political list and try to tick off a few elements for the base. We too have had enough!
That’s a real problem! What is at stake is the very freedom of the American people. Will we be able to go out in public – will young children be able to go to school – without fear of being randomly shot? Maintaining this fundamental right in the midst of this pandemic of violence will require a united and resolute nation. In short, we need real leadership that crosses party lines. Sadly, Mr. Biden’s speech last week showed little of that.