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Home > English > Alternatives International Journal > 2013 > February 2013 > To Arm or Not to Arm: A Commentary on Gun Control

To Arm or Not to Arm: A Commentary on Gun Control

Friday 1 February 2013, by Emilie Katavic

After the tragic December 14 shooting in Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary school, many pro gun control supporters spoke out saying: "enough is enough". This had been the second deadliest shooting in the history of the United States (after Virginia Tech) in addition to the approximate number of 30,000 civilians that die yearly from gun violence.

The solution is simple for those in favor of gun control laws: crack down on laws on who gets to loan a gun and minimize the amount of places in which they can access them. However, this does not appease the voice of many other Americans who feel that restricting gun ownership would be taking away their freedom to bear arms. Many believe that their fore fathers fought for the right to carry arms and, as Americans, they should be able to keep this right for both protection and leisure.

The irony in this scenario is that if these citizens are looking for “freedom” in their own country, why must they be so fearful that they must request armed guards in all vicinities of elementary schools? There is something inherently wrong not only with gun violence itself in the United States, but in the way that the country sells this “violence” and creates a culture of fear to children as well as to all its citizens through its video games, movies, television shows, and in the mainstream media. This on its own does not explain the prevalence of gun-related murders in the United States, but it is a mere contribution to the problem.

Placing armed guards in schools donates to the very problem through which gun violence emerges—this idea that “to prevent gun violence, you must increase gun ownership.” What kind of message is being sent to a five year old that sees armed guard in the halls of her or his school? It clearly does not send the message that it is a safe environment, in which they should feel comfortable and protected. The message that it sends is that all problems can be fixed with the very source of the problems themselves.

Instead of placing armed guards in schools, which costs the federal government millions of dollars, that money should be put toward improving mental illness education and institutions that can help identify and treat those with anger management, insecurity, suicidal, and violent problems. Journalist Steven Strauss says, “It doesn’t take a major leap of faith to believe that investing $15 billion in comprehensive youth suicide, murder and neglect prevention programs (instead of armed guards) would save hundreds of young lives instead of about ten lives per year.”

The problem does not only lay with guns in school, but in the importance that Americans have created for guns in their society. Guns have been put on a pedestal by parents and certain politicians as a symbol of strength when in reality it should be seen for what it really is—protection for fear. Shootings happen everyday in homes, offices, schools, supermarkets, malls, movie theatres, nightclubs, etc. Placing armed officials in all of these public places seems not only like a bad financial decision, but also is promoting more use of guns in the country, and also seems like a quick fix to a bigger problem.