I’m officially tired of the circular, set-on-repeat, merry-go-round stuff we have to endure every single time there’s a mass shooting. The same, emotionally laden, logic free, road to nowhere talking points, the same groups calling those of us who don’t assent to their demands and ideas “heartless” or that we “don’t care about children” or…name your poison. I’ve seen much more vile. Yet, for a myriad of rational, well reasoned, well… reasons, I and many, many, MANY others will never be cowed into a corner and beaten into submission on this. Read that? Never. Not gonna happen. And it’s not because we’re heartless. Precisely the opposite. It’s not because we don’t care about children. Precisely the opposite.
Want to know why we resist no matter the level of tragedy? Okay. First, quite literally none of the “solutions” that have been actually implemented in the past by well meaning (maybe, maybe not, we’ll get to that) politicians have done anything good. Like, none. Signs at schools declaring “gun free zones”. Laws that say “hey, you aren’t allowed to murder anyone, mkay?” The “assault weapons” ban in the 90’s. (Seriously, what is an “assault weapon”?) None of them have done anything. Except make things worse. Why? Because preventative laws of this nature simply do. not. work. Never have. Ask those who passed Prohibition. Only those who obey laws care about laws. That’s why only punitive laws have any effect (and then only if they are rigorously enforced).
Secondly, guns aren’t the problem. Never have been. Heck, lawlessness isn’t primarily the problem. Nope. And that’s why I’m writing this piece in a fatherhood blog. Because THAT is the problem no one wants to talk about. In a world where fathers are marginalized, maligned, and relegated to comic relief, there are sons left with no direction, no male leadership, no father. And guess how many of these mass shootings have been done by a boy with no father in the home (discounting the WVU shooter, who had a clear history of mental illness)? Approximately all of them.
Peter Hasson wrote a brilliant piece on this in 2015 in the Federalist (http://thefederalist.com/2015/07/14/guess-which-mass-murderers-came-from-a-fatherless-home/). Violence. Suicide. School drop out rates. Drug use. Incarceration. Murder. All of them have a high correlation to fatherlessness, and lack of intentional fatherhood. But we don’t want to talk about that. We don’t want to have to deal with those facts. The truth is, however, that until we do, nothing will change. No law will fix it. No sign. No social media crusade. No ban.
Which leads me to my third and last point. Along with the above reasons, it’s the main reason why we will never entertain a “conversation” that limits, curtails, restricts, contravenes, or even hints at banning guns of any type. It is why the second amendment enshrined the natural right of every citizen to keep and bear arms…and it wasn’t for hunting deer. It was, is, and will continue to be to protect and preserve liberty against all enemies…foreign…and domestic. It is the only one of the 10 rights in the bill of Rights that includes the phrase “shall not be infringed” (by the way, all of those words earlier-limit, curtail, restrict, contravene, ban-have a common synonym. Infringe). Know why? Because it is the only one that guarantees all the others. Your right to freedom of speech isn’t the most important one. Your right to peaceful assembly isn’t. Your right against unreasonable search and seizure isn’t. Your right to a speedy and fair trial isn’t. The most important right is the one that guarantees all those others won’t be removed.
There are actual deterrents to this kind of tragedy. They won’t stop them all. But they will stop far more than any sign or rule or law ever will. And they have nothing to do with stepping on the second amendment. Precisely the opposite. They have to do with wiping away the boot prints that have already been smudged onto the second amendment, and refusing to leave another. Gun Free Zones must become “Don’t try that in here or else” zones. (We know those work, by the way. No school shootings have occurred where staff are armed, and signs are posted to that end.) They also have to do with being an intentional and engaged father. Get in there and BE a father. If you see a boy who is fatherless, strongly consider fathering mentorship. When young male elephants are moved from one place to the other without an older bull elephant, they are violent. When an older male elephant is reintroduced to the pack, the violence stops. It’s incontrovertible. This will work much more than anything else in the long run, in fact. Get in there and be a leader to these kids.
We aren’t giving them up, folks. And it’s not because we don’t care about the children. It’s precisely because we do.