By Eric Thomas, 97.1 The Ticket

We knew it was coming and knew it was going to be nasty. As soon as the reports began coming in from Connecticut, we braced ourselves for the inevitable. The reason why everyone immediately warned of the coming gun debate is because we all know precisely where the problem lies.

We dig holes for the victims, stand around them before we lower them into the ground forever, saying things to make ourselves feel better. “They’re in a better place,” we say as some small way to cope with the impossible. No matter what anyone says, no matter what anyone argues, no matter how we choose to justify this, we all know what the problem is. We just don’t want to do anything about it.

America is famous for our gun culture. Talk to anyone from another country and it comes up fairly soon in conversation. This recent tragedy found the fissures in this country just as deep as always. I am not trying to say something controversial to inspire debate. However, we must stop the screaming and realize, whether you accept the truth or not: In America we care more about guns than we do children.

You’re judged by your deeds, not rhetoric. Look at our actions. Guns are precious and children are not. Within a few breaths of any discussion on guns, people point out the NRA’s stranglehold on this country’s gun policy. Why are they so powerful? Because NRA members send their money to protect guns, not the children that are shot by them. If there is a competing organization, we haven’t heard from it. The guns have more resources than the children.

Thousands of products are recalled by the Consumer Safety board every year. Dream on Me Baby Bath Seats recalled 50,000 units earlier this month because the product didn’t meet “bath safety standards.” It was determined that the seats could “potentially tip over and cause accidental drowning,” but it’s unclear if this ever actually happened. Try as I might, I couldn’t find one death at the hands of Dream on Me Baby Bath Seats. Guns however kill over 3,000 children every year and cause nearly 17,500 injuries. Lawn Darts, Slip-N-Slides, Shrinky Dinks and other seeming rights of childhood passage have been slowly phased out of existence because of the potential problems they present. Guns? Not one precious gun can be harmed.

To steal from George Carlin, in America we ban toy guns and keep the real ones.

Gun supporters marched to Fox News last Sunday to preach to the choir, wistfully wishing that someone had a gun in Sandy Hook Elementary School. They say teachers should be trained and armed, in addition to the college they must attend yearly to keep their teaching skills current. This can’t be an actual proposal. It’s nonsense, and for those who think this is a serious solution, I have a few questions for you. Who should pay for the gun and the additional training? Would the training be at a police academy or just some local gun shop with a license to hold training classes?  Would it be mandatory or elective? Should the principal also have to receive this training? What happens if an armed teacher accidentally shoots a child? Who pays for the liability insurance? Ok, so maybe it might be too complicated to task the teachers with this, so what about an armed guard in every school? Fine, but that’s a full time job. Who would pay for that? The state? The county? The district? Whom does that person report to? You never hear these questions asked, because the suggestion isn’t real.

Gun fans seem to think movies and television are real. They seem to think that every 31 year old teacher who takes an afternoon course with her Walther PPK can qualify as combat ready. Heroes never miss, and no one has to reload. There is no crossfire and you can tell who the bad guy is by what color hat he’s wearing. Never mind that these psychos dress like commandos and a teacher who hasn’t spent time in Fallujah might hesitate before pulling the trigger. What if that person with a gun coming through the door is a police officer? First responders just become collateral damage now?

Remind me, why is Pat Tillman dead?

Gun control has worked in other countries. In 1996, following a mass shooting that killed over 30 people; Australia put their collective foot down. They instituted strict measures preventing citizens from owning guns without just cause and started a buyback program for the guns already in existence. What happened? In the ten years before the laws were enacted, there were 11 mass shootings in Australia. In the 10 years since, none. Three cheers for cause and effect.

John Howard, the conservative leader who championed Australia’s reforms in 2006, penned an op-ed in an Australian newspaper after the theater shooting in Aurora. He said, “So deeply embedded is the gun culture of the US that millions of law-abiding Americans truly believe that it is safer to own a gun, based on the chilling logic that because there are so many guns in circulation, one’s own weapon is needed for self-protection. To put it another way, the situation is so far gone there can be no turning back.”

He’s right, but it’s worse than that. We care more about guns than we do kids. If you lose a kid because of a gun, the nation shrugs its shoulders. The mere suggestion of putting limits on owning guns is shouted down with the fear and hatred normally reserved for terrorists.

So we continue to lower little coffins into the ground. Charlotte Bacon was a 6-year-old who loved animals and wanted to be a veterinarian. Seven-year-old Daniel Barden was unfailingly polite, according to his obituary. With them, we bury the shame of a nation. Adults made this world, not these dead children. They are in the ground because we failed. Charlotte won’t be a veterinarian because the world we made stubbornly placed our love for inanimate objects ahead of her safety. That’s on all of us.

We say, “They’re in a better place.” Shame we couldn’t make this place safe enough for them to stay.


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