There is a formula concerning tragedies: The less the personal connection less the greater the distance plus the more time that separates you from the incident, equals lower personal impact. C-(D2+T)I
For me, the shootings at Northern Illinois University had a high personal impact. I teach at a very open college, not unlike NIU. I lived less than five miles from Columbine High School in April 1999 and knew kids that attended that high school and parents of children that died. In 2001, I took personal responsibility for the safety of my students, all of my students at Metropolitan State College in Denver. I take this type of violence very personally.
Since Feb. 1, more than 30 men, women, boys and girls, have been killed during very public shooting rampages in the United States, including six at NIU and another six in Kirkwood, only 90 minutes away. Steven Kazmierczak and Charles Lee “Cookie” Thornton both purchased their firearms legally. Unfortunately, in the final determination, as with the Virginia Tech and Columbine shootings, regardless of hindsight, there is little we can do to prevent the next rampage.
I am also an advocate for our Second Amendment right to gun ownership. This does not mean I agree with those who believe that if everyone was armed the world would be a safer place. The logic behind this argument is, at best, faulty. At worse, dangerous. The argument goes like this: If the students in the classroom had guns, the shooter would not have killed as many, if any. But then, would you want more guns in the hands of drivers experiencing road rage? In fact, concealed-weapon and carry laws appear to have no effect on crime whatsoever.
The argument concerning our Second Amendment has little if anything to do with the extreme slippery slope arguments made by the orthopraxy gun advocates and the National Rifle Association. It has to do with the definition of “militia” and the possible lack of a semicolon. We already have gun control in the United States in the form of waiting periods and the prohibition of certain guns from private purchase, age limitations and limits on the number of guns that may be purchased at one time. We also have almost 250 million guns in the hands of our citizens.
The argument continues, rightly stating that guns are not the only weapon of choice. The brutal murder of a New York psychologist this month was committed with a kitchen clever and chef’s knife. So will we now limit the sale and ownership of kitchen cutlery? Or baseball bats or tire irons?
What we fear most is the loss of personal safety both in and out of our homes, the loss of control. We understand that we live in a chaotic world. Now there’s the rub – our greatest and worse fear, the loss of control.
I do advocate mandatory training for anyone who wishes to own a handgun, shotgun or rifle, even for personal protection. Missouri requires gun safety courses for hunters, so the extension is natural. The University of Washington reports that one-third of all gun owners had no gun safety training. Two-thirds did not lock their guns in a home with children.
Mandatory training is not gun control. Professional gun safety trainers are better prepared to identify someone whose personal judgment should be questioned. Annual training, as already required for hunters, including proper and safe storage, would add a layer of protection for our citizens and our children. Maybe then we will feel better about sending our children to school.
I urge our legislators to take charge for the safety of our citizens. Mandatory gun safety training needs to be the law of the land for securing the right of the ownership of handguns, rifles and shotguns.