A look at the recent tragedy and guns

The recent tragedy is just that, a horrible tragedy that has everyone concerned and thinking, “What has our country come to?”

There are many emotions, and very intense ones at that, which have surfaced. A lot of finger pointing began within hours of the horrible news. Common sense always requires that we wait before making statements when we are hot headed, upset or angry. That could include not hitting “SEND” on an email in response to something you received that made you angry, to something as huge as this horrid crime that took the lives of children and adults in our country.

It has been over a week and yet I am not sure the vast majority of Americans are ready to think clearly and really see what is going on. Many have made up their minds about what happened, why it happened, and what needs to be done. I made a few observations within the first few days of the terrible news.

1.    The mainstream media could not get the story straight about what happened. The “facts” as they reported them were not facts, they were wild guesses purported and reported as “facts.” The media in general has stooped to gossip to earn a dollar or get ratings. I have found that I cannot believe much, if any, of what is reported in the news, especially on television. What should be unbiased reporting of facts has become yellow journalism at best or simply a “talking head” wanting to get the public riled up. As one of my students recently said, “Adults should know better than to spread gossip and create drama and yet they get on our case for doing it!”

The problem is that we all sit and watch this garbage hoping to glean some truth from it and therefore the ratings remain steady and it continues in a vicious cycle. We need to demand accurate reporting, not gossip!

2.    Almost all of the newscasters and probably an overwhelming majority of newspaper writers that covered this issue and reported on the “gun control” aspect of the story as a possible solution, have absolutely no knowledge of firearms in a personal or first hand way and yet they write about firearms as if they know all about them. Once again, the reporting is like a game of “telephone” where the first person says something and whispers it to the next one and so on. Within a dozen people the message has changed and gotten so far off course and incorrect it is laughable. Only in this case it is not laughable. It is terrible! Repeating things that are not true is not only wrong, but eventually others start to believe it.

3.    There appears to be no respect for the victims by some and those people also have no respect for themselves. They take us all to be fools and the sad thing is that they hijacked the victims and their horrible loss to their own benefit. I noticed right away that those against guns came out immediately from the woodwork and within hours were on a huge soapbox proclaiming whatever garbage they were trying to dump in our heads as truth. Think about the other side. Did we hear from the other side? Did the gun rights activists have anything to say other than how sorry they were for the victims? I did not see a statement touting their side of the argument for many days. Some are reading this thinking, “What could gun rights people possibly have to gain by saying anything?”

Well, if they wanted to make a buck or score political points with their constituency they could have immediately started saying that this was a good reason everyone should be armed. Gun shops could have begun running ads for gun sales “before they are banned.” Gun shops could have touted concealed carry classes to combat these tragedies. And to some degree they may have been correct in their theory and thoughts but there was no huge outcry to that effect for many days and even now, a full week later I am not seeing much of it.

What we did see was Mayor Bloomberg seizing a tragedy and turning it to personal gain as he always does. We saw Senator Diane Feinstein, (notorious for saying, “If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an out right ban, picking up every one of them... “Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ‘em all in, “I would have done it. I could not do that. The votes weren’t here.”—U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), CBS-TV’s “60 Minutes,” 2/5/95), saying we needed a new assault weapons ban (after the first one did virtually nothing to reduce crime or stop these types of things as proven by NUMEROUS studies by both private firms and the federal government).

I find it ironic that Senator Feinstein claims she is not out to take away guns yet she makes statements like the ones above. How or why should the gun rights advocates trust someone like her to make a policy or submit a bill for a law when clearly she cannot be trusted? I often wonder if they have any common sense or maybe they just think we are all like sheep to the slaughter and will go willingly along with their schemes. There were and will continue to be many more people benefiting from this tragedy in shameful ways.
Some simple facts to consider include:
In states where guns are common and able to be legally carried by citizens as protected by the 2nd Amendment, crime is noticeably lower NOT higher as some would have you think. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence uses studies that are not scientifically sound to spew their propaganda. Think about it. You don’t need to read anyone’s study. Chicago, Washington D.C. and many other urban areas where guns are so restricted you will die of old age before being granted permission to exercise your 2nd Amendment rights, have the highest crime rates in the nation! If guns were so terrible then you would think a place where they were banned or heavily restricted would have the lowest crime rates! Common sense tells us otherwise. They are the most dangerous places in the nation to live. People that commit crimes don’t care about laws. They will get the tools they want to commit the crimes no matter the law and they will commit their evil deeds.

Banning so called “assault weapons” is a ploy, a bait and switch if you will, and more importantly, will do nothing to reduce crime just like it did nothing the first time it was implemented. People need to understand that an assault weapon, as those wanting to ban them define them, are categorized simply for cosmetic details such as a flash suppressor, or pistol grip, not for how they function. It is the looks that scare people and make them feel better about banning them.

Here is one more fact before I conclude. A study showing statistics of crime in eight categories during 2010 was the lowest it had been in 36 years and yet more guns are in American houses, vehicles, purses and in holsters carried by Americans than ever before!

Step back and take a look at the big picture
I think the problem is far more complex and has a lot less to do with guns a whole lot more to do with people than we want to even consider. Fifty years ago things were different. Guns were common in most homes and kids used guns a lot more than they do now. In fact, many young people took their favorite rifles or shotguns to school so they could go hunting afterwards. Kids carried knives to school. I did, many of us did, and the teachers knew it. I had teachers ask to borrow my knife several times. Kids had rifles or shotguns in the rack of their trucks or trunks of their cars. Yet there were no mass shootings making the news. I don’t recall any kids getting in trouble for using a firearm at school or having it. What changed?

We had prayer in school at one time. Television was something you watched occasionally, not all the time. When you did watch it the programs were not full of extreme filth, violence or immorality. The worst violence was a car chase, cops and robbers shooting things out, the Lone Ranger or cowboys slinging lead. A show with an outright murder with gruesome details in it was not on the television until late at night when young people were not able to watch it because parents made them go to bed. Our kids did not have televisions in their room and they were supervised much of the time not sent off to do what they wanted with phones and computers!

Today those violent shows are on all day long and extreme violence and gore is routinely part of shows each evening. The same holds true for movies. Remember when you really were screened at the door of a movie if the rating was R or even PG? And it did not take much for a movie to be rated PG or R either! Now we are numb to extreme violence and gore and it has become acceptable as has other types of immorality. We let our kids see these things and wonder why they are so much more disrespectful than we were.

This bleeds over to video games as well. The games today are not the Space Invaders or Pac Man games. Grand Theft Auto or Black Ops are full of violence and often gun violence where guns are used in a terrible way. Life is not respected in these games. It is snuffed out and never thought about. Kids and adults don’t even care about the violence. It is part of our everyday life and yet with all these changes for the worst, we wonder why terrible things happen. Many act like banning one thing, such as guns, is going to fix the problem in some way. It won’t. That is a fact. We have let our society slip so far downhill that we have much work to do to improve our morals, ethics and respect for others, ourselves and life in general.

The question is, “Do we have the willpower to turn off the violent games and raunchy television shows or movies that are numbing us to the violence and immoral acts? Do we have the self-discipline to encourage others to do the same? Can we say NO to things that we know are bad for us or are setting a bad example to our young people? Can we be leaders to good and moral things and not followers of evil? It won’t be easy and it will take a while. It is my belief that this is the way we need to find a solution to our problems. I think if we can do these things we will solve the gun violence problem and a whole host of other problems as well.

I don’t think banning things is necessary nor will it work. I think making a personal decision to raise our kids in a moral way with as much supervision as possible is a huge step in the right direction. Guns are not the problem. In fact, great parenting, a faith in God and responsible training and supervised access to guns kept me out of trouble as well as all of my friends! The things our society finds acceptable today and our lack morals is the problem!

Mark Fike

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