America is rapidly becoming an unsafe country for young children!
Just short of a hundred days after the Newtown school tragedy, in which 20 young children were killed by a lone gunman, another incident has shocked the nation.
On Thursday, March 21st, a mother out walking with her 13-month old son was approached by two teenagers who demanded money. She said she had none. So they threatened to harm her son. One of them then shot him in the face, killing him instantly!
As the two boys who committed this act were only 14 and 17 it’s likely that they will be out on the streets again shortly. Meanwhile, a young mother’s life has changed forever and her young son is dead.
With so many murders on the news each day, it’s unlikely this will impact the current debate on gun control.
The United States, with a population of over 320 million, has more than 180 million guns in circulation. That’s more than any other country in the world. Yemen is second and Switzerland third. Switzerland is an interesting country – every male there must have a gun in the house in order to be ready to defend the country. In spite of all the weapons, violence is rare compared to the US.
Other western countries have fairly strict gun control laws.
What’s the answer for the United States?
Ask anybody outside of America and they will answer with “gun control”. About half of Americans now favor some controls. Gun controls work quite well in Canada, Australia and the UK. The UK, with a population of 62 million, had only 30 gun-related deaths last year, compared to roughly 30,000 in the US. Interestingly, in a reversal of the US experience, it is the conservative political parties in these countries that are most in favor of strict controls.
(Americans who are pro-gun should note – when you go outside the country don’t tell anybody how you feel – they will think you’re dangerous or crazy or both! You might also remember this when posting on international social networks.)
I asked a Canadian friend, a former schoolteacher, if people in Canada are afraid to send their children to school. He said “no”. There are no fears for their safety.
Would Canadian gun controls work in the US?
Frankly, I don’t think they would. Try to take those 180 million guns out of peoples’ hands and you would have a revolution or civil war. Even if all the good people gave up their weapons, there would still be plenty circulating for the criminal element.
The pro-gun lobby says that the only solution to a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun. They even advocate teachers being armed, as they are in Israel, where the country is faced with a constant threat from terrorists.
Our local school, attended by two of our grandchildren, has grandfathers patrolling the hallways. The grandfathers are not allowed to carry weapons so they could hardly defend themselves or the school against an armed intruder, but they could hopefully call the police before any students got shot.
One solution is to make schools like airports, where security is tight, once you’ve checked in.
One historical fact that should be remembered is that Americans have always had the right to bear arms. Always. It was the English parliament in 1642 that gave all Englishmen the right to bear arms to defend themselves against the king, on the eve of the English Civil War. As the American colonies were English that right was also given to the early settlers. Without the right to bear arms, the American Revolution would never have got off the ground.
That right was later enshrined in the US Constitution.
Other former British colonies took away that right over the years for one reason or another. 99% of the people in those countries support tough gun control laws. England will not even arm the police, sentiment is so great against guns. However, it should be noted that, in spite of strict laws against handguns and assault weapons, people can hunt and can keep a weapon in their own home for that purpose.
The pro-gun lobby constantly repeats the mantra that gun controls don’t work anywhere in the world. On this they are absolutely wrong. They do work and the public would not change anything.
But this does not mean they would work in the US.
The rest of the world thinks the United States is a violent country, partly because of incidents like Newtown. This is one reason why foreign tourists are lacking, an economic repercussion of all the violence. I often get asked when I’m visiting other countries why the US president doesn’t simply ban guns. The answer to that is quite simple – he can’t! He hasn’t got that power and most Americans wouldn’t want him to have it.
When we realize that Americans have had the right to bear arms for four centuries, literally from the very beginning as Jamestown residents brought weapons with them,
It should be noted that incidents like Newtown are relatively new. So easy access to guns is not the only problem here.
In every case I’ve followed over the last few years, the perpetrator of these awful crimes has come from a broken home. A fatherless home, that is. 2500 years ago the prophet Malachi wrote: “God hates divorce, for it covers one’s garments with violence” (Malachi 2:16). This problem needs to be looked at. Our local newspaper has been advocating stricter divorce laws for parents with young children, pointing out that 90% of the people in our prison system come from broken homes. A broken home is usually a fatherless home, as mothers usually get full custody of their children. Boys need a strong father in their lives.
Divorce is far more prevalent today than it was even fifty years ago.
Another change in the last 50 years is that schools no longer teach the Ten Commandments. It’s ironic that public schools were first started with the specific intent of teaching the commandments, and now can’t teach them at all. If children are not learning them at home, how are they supposed to know “Thou shalt not kill”? If television is a bigger influence in their lives than any religious instruction, they can only conclude that murder is perfectly acceptable as it’s the staple of evening “entertainment.” If you prefer not to teach your children any religious values, it’s still extremely important to teach them right from wrong and ensure that you are countering all the negative influences around them.
Add to this violent video games, which many young men are addicted to. The producers will claim they have no effect on people who play them – if that’s true, why do companies spend millions advertizing on television if what people see on TV doesn’t influence them?
Also, drugs. Again, when these acts are committed, it eventually turns out that the perpetrator was on prozac, or a similar mind-altering drug.
Do something about all of these and incidents like Newtown will be greatly reduced.
After changes are made in these areas, America may still be a violent place, but then the prevalence of guns would be the only factor. At that time, the gun issue could be addressed.
Clearly, a lot needs to change. This is why an in-depth national debate is needed, with television presenters questioning the so-called “facts” that are thrown around. (If Americans knew that parents in other countries don’t have to worry about their children when they go to school, what would be the reaction?)