Violence is endemic in America. No place is safe from brutes intent on hurting innocent people. Who can deny these terrifying realities? We like to believe schools are safe havens for our precious children, yet we know that even schools are not immune from attacks by gun-toting student psychopaths.
In institutions where bullying and fighting are commonplace, conditions are ripe for hot heads to take the "next step" and bring a weapon to class. As a nation, we must do more to stop children from bringing guns to American schoolhouses.
An NBC news report revealed in a survey that from January 2, 2013 to February 5, 2013, at least 48 incidents occurred in U.S. schools in which guns were discovered on students, in their bags or in their lockers.
That was a staggering 48 incidents in just 23 class days since some districts resumed school January 2 — not including January 21, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. (The survey excluded incidents in which pupils were caught with toy guns; all of the weapons were handguns, rifles, BB guns or air rifles.) And those are just the cases that were made public: Juveniles' police records are generally protected, so an untold number of other such incidents are likely to have occurred.
(M. Alex Johnson. "Pistol-packing Pupils Becoming an
Everyday Occurrence." NBC News, February 5, 2013)
What Can Be Done?
There are over 280 million guns in civilian hands. And, of course, we like to think that all of the extremities that clutch these weapons belong to responsible adults who are well educated in gun safety. Of course, this is not so. Given the stupidity and violent tendencies of so many incautious adults, guns are openly available to smaller hands. Many of these easily attainable parents' firearms are used in school shootings.
The Children's Defense Fund reports that one-third of all households with children younger than 18 have a gun and more than 40% of gun-owning households with children store their guns unlocked. The statistics show that 22% of children with gun-owning parents have handled guns in their homes without their parents' knowledge, and more than half of the youth who committed suicide with a gun obtained the gun from their home, usually a parent's gun.
We must face the truth.
Children in great numbers
are allowed free access
to firearms by their parents.
A thirst for violence and revenge mixed with young, raging hormones make an unsecured gun an easy, attractive option as a weapon for a student who wants to "even the score" in our schools. A firearm has become the deadly tool of choice for the many violent young people.
According to the Children’s Defense Fund’s (CDF) “Protect Children, Not Guns 2010” compilation of reliable national and state data on gun violence in America, one in five high school students reports carrying a weapon (not denoted how many "weapons" were firearms); one-third of those students brought the weapon to school. One in 18 high school students reported staying home from school because they felt unsafe at school or going to and from school.
(Toni Wellen. "Gun Violence and Children." Santa Barbara
What can be done to keep guns out of schools? Parents and legal guardians must be held directly accountable and must be prosecuted as those responsible for allowing their children access to weapons.
When authorities discover unsecured firearms in homes occupied by children, the law must take no pity upon the owner of these weapons. The adult's right to gun ownership should be revoked, and they should face serious criminal charges. Strict proactive measures must be enforced as a step toward deterrence. An uneducated adult gun owner living with children has no excuse in the eyes of the law.
Adult gun owners must be tried for all direct links that allow their children to access a gun and bring it to American campuses or to any public place. When his or her child maims and murders others, that parental gun owner must be held accountable for the offense. These guilty adults are accomplices to the heinous crimes, and they deserve to be considered criminals with no excuse for their misbehavior. And, remember, the law considers the age of majority when minors cease to legally be considered children and assume control over their persons, actions, and decisions as 18 years of age.
If found guilty of negligence as it relates to gun possession or gun violence by their children, parents must be convicted and sentenced to stiff penalties. As harsh as it seems, stupid, uncaring adults, often absent from the scene of possession and the scene of the crime, must be held fully accountable. A parental gun owner is solely responsible for his or her firearm, especially when held in the hands of their child -- a child intent on squeezing the trigger at will.