Gun-Free Zones Are Not Evil People-Free Zones

The horrific Parkland, Florida H.S. massacre tears at the conscience of us all.  It also predictably invited the tired, unworkable policy fix from the left: let's just ban guns!  How the left imagines that this might fix these awful tragedies is beyond reason.  Worse, leftists obnoxiously claim that NRA members and others who disagree with them don't care.  Incredible.  Of course, raw emotion always clouds good judgment.

We should dissect this tragic event with critical thinking, not emotion.  The scripted prescriptions offered at the CNN town hall meeting hours later contributed nothing to this effort.  Shame on CNN and all the adults who conspired with that fake news giant creating that circus TV moment.  And more shame on those who manipulated traumatized children to promote their agenda. 

Let's admit: psychologically disturbed people (of any age) are a danger to their community, their families, and themselves.  Some sort of intervention into their failing paths is essential.  We rarely hear this because political correctness censors it, but most of us know that this is the root of these horrors.  Pull a weed's leaves from your lawn, and it just returns.  We must dig deeper and get dirty hands if we truly want to rid our lawn of this weed.

Let's also admit: tortured souls will utilize any device to wreak their havoc, including cars, trucks, knives, baseball bats, IEDS, poisons (like anthrax), and of course guns.

Any proposed corrective measure must wrestle with the thorny challenge of how society can respect both the rights of law-abiding citizens to self-defense (a constitutional right) and the right to be protected from these devils among us.  If there were an easy solution, it would have already been discovered.  Yes, we all want the "authorities" to be vigilant, but this Parkland event especially gave evidence of how often such hope is misguided.  Officials grossly failed.

Unless you have been mugged or found yourself and family and possessions violated (or even exterminated during a slowly-being-forgotten era by a tyrannical government that did confiscate guns from law-abiding citizens), you won't understand why the 2nd Amendment is precious.  And if you won't admit such examples as genuine reasons for the right to self-defense, then you don't really want to live in a free republic, either!  Apparently, you wish to live in some idealized socialist state.  So why not move to Cuba, or Venezuela, or North Korea?

I don't wish my Progressive friends to experience any of the scenarios described above, but I'll bet them my permit to carry that if they did, they'd change their calculus and quickly understand that the gun/knife/club/fist/car/rock was not evil – it was a tormented soul who was evil.

I was a high school teacher in the South Bronx 30-plus years ago and have a catalog of sad stories of how public education fails our children.  It isn't a job I would take today, but in my youth, I imagined I was saving a tiny piece of our world by volunteering to teach in the jungle.

Some mornings while walking up the stairs between classes, I would overhear students (of color) saying nasty things about the white teacher in the school (me) and laughing.  I took it in stride, remembering that this neighborhood was damaged, families were broken, fathers absent, and that too many of these kids were victims of a creeping cultural collapse.  My mission was to rescue as many of them as I could. 

I often sat on my desk at the beginning of the week and pleaded, "Stay with me here.  Do your homework and  pay attention.  Ignore the losers on the street cutting class and smoking grass.  They're going nowhere.  Learn something about logarithms and trigonometry; learn to think and write.  Trust me.  I'll get you into a college.  You can escape this pit." 

Most listened, perhaps not believing, but hopeful.  "You know," I continued, "there are colleges that will give you a scholarship to attend.  They want a South Bronx student of color to improve their diversity quota.  You can be that student.  Stay with me."  

During a cafeteria lunch late in May, I sat down with a couple of women, veteran special education teachers.  The pair (each earning $100,000 a year in today's dollars) taught a reduced class of 12 special students.  On any given day, just half of their kids attended school.  They began talking about a boy.  One of them said with no emotion, "He's gunna pop Jeremy for sure."

I asked, "What on Earth are you talking about?"  And she related how Jeremy had "dissed" Tyrone during one of their 5th grade-level group book readings.  She continued, "This won't stand.  He can't afford to lose face."

Choking back my soup, I blurted, "We need to do something about this."  

"Do what?" she replied.  "We can't do anything – because Tyrone hasn't done anything yet." 

I learned that Tyrone was the leader of a gang who called themselves the "25-to-lifers" in the special education department.  My feeling then (and now) was that none of these kids should have been enrolled in this high school.  They needed a different venue.  But that was politically incorrect thinking.

And we now know where such P.C. thinking leads: Broward County's PROMISE Program.

Sure enough, a week later, Tyrone shot Jeremy in the same stairway I so often scaled.  And Tyrone, only 17, served limited time in juvenile detention before certainly being released to cause further trouble.  Here's the big problem I invite Progressives to solve!  What do you propose to deal with the Tyrones in our schools?

When I shared the ugly event with my wife that evening, she calmly said, "You're out of there."  And inside three weeks, I was, telling the principal I had accepted another teaching position in another school, a private school, a school where kids like Tyrone wouldn't be admitted or would be expelled after his first instance of dangerous behavior.

Schools may be gun-free zones these days, but they are surely not trouble kid-free zones.  We must change the P.C. policies that permit obviously dangerous students to attend.  Let's find a better place for them, a place where we can possibly help them become civilized citizens.  But until we do, a smart move would be to institute school protections, time-tested and successfully employed in one of the dangerous parts of our free world.  Follow Israel's lead.

Rick Swenson is teaching International Baccalaureate math in China these days.  Some of his adventures are posted on his blog, Dancing with the Dragon.

The horrific Parkland, Florida H.S. massacre tears at the conscience of us all.  It also predictably invited the tired, unworkable policy fix from the left: let's just ban guns!  How the left imagines that this might fix these awful tragedies is beyond reason.  Worse, leftists obnoxiously claim that NRA members and others who disagree with them don't care.  Incredible.  Of course, raw emotion always clouds good judgment.

We should dissect this tragic event with critical thinking, not emotion.  The scripted prescriptions offered at the CNN town hall meeting hours later contributed nothing to this effort.  Shame on CNN and all the adults who conspired with that fake news giant creating that circus TV moment.  And more shame on those who manipulated traumatized children to promote their agenda. 

Let's admit: psychologically disturbed people (of any age) are a danger to their community, their families, and themselves.  Some sort of intervention into their failing paths is essential.  We rarely hear this because political correctness censors it, but most of us know that this is the root of these horrors.  Pull a weed's leaves from your lawn, and it just returns.  We must dig deeper and get dirty hands if we truly want to rid our lawn of this weed.

Let's also admit: tortured souls will utilize any device to wreak their havoc, including cars, trucks, knives, baseball bats, IEDS, poisons (like anthrax), and of course guns.

Any proposed corrective measure must wrestle with the thorny challenge of how society can respect both the rights of law-abiding citizens to self-defense (a constitutional right) and the right to be protected from these devils among us.  If there were an easy solution, it would have already been discovered.  Yes, we all want the "authorities" to be vigilant, but this Parkland event especially gave evidence of how often such hope is misguided.  Officials grossly failed.

Unless you have been mugged or found yourself and family and possessions violated (or even exterminated during a slowly-being-forgotten era by a tyrannical government that did confiscate guns from law-abiding citizens), you won't understand why the 2nd Amendment is precious.  And if you won't admit such examples as genuine reasons for the right to self-defense, then you don't really want to live in a free republic, either!  Apparently, you wish to live in some idealized socialist state.  So why not move to Cuba, or Venezuela, or North Korea?

I don't wish my Progressive friends to experience any of the scenarios described above, but I'll bet them my permit to carry that if they did, they'd change their calculus and quickly understand that the gun/knife/club/fist/car/rock was not evil – it was a tormented soul who was evil.

I was a high school teacher in the South Bronx 30-plus years ago and have a catalog of sad stories of how public education fails our children.  It isn't a job I would take today, but in my youth, I imagined I was saving a tiny piece of our world by volunteering to teach in the jungle.

Some mornings while walking up the stairs between classes, I would overhear students (of color) saying nasty things about the white teacher in the school (me) and laughing.  I took it in stride, remembering that this neighborhood was damaged, families were broken, fathers absent, and that too many of these kids were victims of a creeping cultural collapse.  My mission was to rescue as many of them as I could. 

I often sat on my desk at the beginning of the week and pleaded, "Stay with me here.  Do your homework and  pay attention.  Ignore the losers on the street cutting class and smoking grass.  They're going nowhere.  Learn something about logarithms and trigonometry; learn to think and write.  Trust me.  I'll get you into a college.  You can escape this pit." 

Most listened, perhaps not believing, but hopeful.  "You know," I continued, "there are colleges that will give you a scholarship to attend.  They want a South Bronx student of color to improve their diversity quota.  You can be that student.  Stay with me."  

During a cafeteria lunch late in May, I sat down with a couple of women, veteran special education teachers.  The pair (each earning $100,000 a year in today's dollars) taught a reduced class of 12 special students.  On any given day, just half of their kids attended school.  They began talking about a boy.  One of them said with no emotion, "He's gunna pop Jeremy for sure."

I asked, "What on Earth are you talking about?"  And she related how Jeremy had "dissed" Tyrone during one of their 5th grade-level group book readings.  She continued, "This won't stand.  He can't afford to lose face."

Choking back my soup, I blurted, "We need to do something about this."  

"Do what?" she replied.  "We can't do anything – because Tyrone hasn't done anything yet." 

I learned that Tyrone was the leader of a gang who called themselves the "25-to-lifers" in the special education department.  My feeling then (and now) was that none of these kids should have been enrolled in this high school.  They needed a different venue.  But that was politically incorrect thinking.

And we now know where such P.C. thinking leads: Broward County's PROMISE Program.

Sure enough, a week later, Tyrone shot Jeremy in the same stairway I so often scaled.  And Tyrone, only 17, served limited time in juvenile detention before certainly being released to cause further trouble.  Here's the big problem I invite Progressives to solve!  What do you propose to deal with the Tyrones in our schools?

When I shared the ugly event with my wife that evening, she calmly said, "You're out of there."  And inside three weeks, I was, telling the principal I had accepted another teaching position in another school, a private school, a school where kids like Tyrone wouldn't be admitted or would be expelled after his first instance of dangerous behavior.

Schools may be gun-free zones these days, but they are surely not trouble kid-free zones.  We must change the P.C. policies that permit obviously dangerous students to attend.  Let's find a better place for them, a place where we can possibly help them become civilized citizens.  But until we do, a smart move would be to institute school protections, time-tested and successfully employed in one of the dangerous parts of our free world.  Follow Israel's lead.

Rick Swenson is teaching International Baccalaureate math in China these days.  Some of his adventures are posted on his blog, Dancing with the Dragon.