Parents Ultimately Responsibile For Gun Safety

“Take the law into your own hands.” ~ Jack Reacher promo

Today: It appears that we have to listen to NRA paid-for-lobbyist Wayne LaPierre qualify why guns are okay, fun, necessary even, that if only good people carried then America, especially school children, would have nothing to worry about. We need the NRA to hold a media conference to strongly suggest that all schools in America employ armed guards as a deterrent to mentally ill that use guns to take out defenseless victims. The NRA identified rap music, video games, movies and mental illness as the real killers in last week’s rampage. Thanks, NRA – we needed your superior parenting skills to label what the real problem was – and, whew! It’s not guns, not even semiautomatics with large capacity magazines are of concern. We didn’t know that bad guns need good guns to keep them in check, to keep everything copacetic.

Yesterday: We don’t have to fear gunmen killing our school children in school, on buses, on playgrounds or at malls. We have to fear parents that don’t have the sense to raise their children without constant exposure to violence. I sound like a suburban soccer mom don’t I? All soft, minivan, applying mascara to keep my youthful-mom coolness, Christian and fearful of bushmaster toting shooters in my dreams. But I’m not, I am a teacher and an empty-nester. I live in a small city and drive to the suburbs to teach high school students that, well, will attend college as expected from the cradle. This is not about me, this is about crazy parents that are part of the problem, that lead to a big part of the problem or our society accepting violence as a common part of life in the United States.

Last night: I shared a dinner and a movie at a local cinema on a slow December Friday night one week after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. I chose the restaurant but I didn’t chose the movie, I went along to keep my companion company. He wanted to see Jack Reacher, a Tom Cruise film where Tom is now the new Chuck Norris or Steven Seagal or the newest Hollywood lean-mean-lethal-machine actor of the month. The movie was rated PG-13 for some violence. [PG-13 Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13; violence, language and some drug material.] “Take the law into your own hands.” Some violence. It was primarily violent from start to finish. It was supposed to be released last Friday, December 14th but was pulled by it’s studio due to the single sharpshooter element of the movie. The movie pulled in a lot of young men who quickly got into the premiss and showed their approval by rousing call-outs during all of the fighting, trickster and death scenes. Just before the lights dimmed I noticed a family select seats several rows in front of my party, the parents were in their early thirties and their boys were approximately ten and twelve. We should not judge but those boys were too young for the film and even if the Sandy Hook events hadn’t happened they were way too young to witness the scoping kill shots, brutal fight scenes, suffocation, implied body dismemberment even with mom and dad sitting next to them. At the end of the film people slowly departed I noticed another young boy leaving with his dad, uncle, extended family member(?) along with the first-person-shooter crowd of young men already reliving the action parts of the film. The boy looked blank, same as the brothers looked as they walked by me with their parents, mom wearing her NASCAR jacket, dad spotting his last-year-logo sweatshirt. No talking, no discussing, nothing, just view, digest, and store. But do young children digest violent movies properly without harmful effects that ooze out later when they are teens? Do they really forget realistic shooting scenes without harming the innocent sensibilities, without darkening their dreams?

The NRA blamed violent video games, rap and violent movies for the Sandy Hook incident, LaPierre said that every public school needed armed police and volunteers to patrol schoolyards to keep us all safe. The NRA calls for a mental health registry to control the crazy people. No mention of too many guns, especially assault rifles or easy to acquire high volume magazines. Congressmen talked of arming administrators, teachers and some even suggested students pack heat! Really?!! No stats other than a lobbyist’s word. Which leads me back to parents – parents are the first defense against their family’s exposure to violence. If parents chose to feed their children violent first-person-shooter video games, or purchase shoot-em-up DVDs, cable movies, graphic novels, they have no right to point fingers at other children’s wildings and violent behavior. Young children aren’t capable of driving out to the mall for bullets but their parents willingly stock the latest violent video game in the great room and let their kids miss school in order to play these games the minute they come out! We all need to reflect on this – parents all across America need to reflect on their parenting skills, how they set limits and what they prioritize more: their precious … guns or their children’s innocence and safety.

Friday, December 14th: I didn’t know anything about the Sandy Hook massacre until 2:45 PM when I came out of a parent meeting concerning an autistic student’s difficulty transitioning to high school and saw the main office secretaries focused on a desktop monitor. They were moaning. Their  faces registered horror much the same as they had on 9/11/2001. I knew the look – something was terribly wrong – had the president been assassinated? had an Al-Qaida cell blown up another plane? How many times will this scenario be replayed?