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Banning Guns or Gun Education?
After the Sandy Hook tragedy many possible solutions to gun violence have been debated. Discussions have ranged from gun control legislation, to calls for greater emphasis on social morality. While some of these ideas have merit, why is there not more discussion about educating American youth about guns?
America has long had a culture that supports gun ownership. It is part of our rugged individualistic identity. When America wanted to stop drunk driving, we didn’t simply make the activity illegal or ban liquor containing certain amounts of alcohol. Broad initiatives were created both from the public and private sector to educate teenagers and adults about the danger of drunk driving and responsible drinking.
When America wanted to reduce the number of teen pregnancies and STDs, we didn’t simply criminalize sex, we made Health class a mandatory requirement to graduate high school and taught safe sex. When America wants to reduce the number of gun related deaths, should we not have mandatory education for children about gun safety?
Accidents with firearms cause thousands more deaths each year than mass shootings. Gun safety, responsible gun use, learning to respect the power and deadly force of a gun, and even conflict resolution could be part of the curriculum. “Active shooter” drills, like fire drills, could be practiced. Some form of this training could also be required before someone is allowed to own certain types of weapons.
Banning assault weapons won’t change the ones that are already out there. Also, the guns used at Sandy Hook were registered to someone other than the shooter, so it appears greater registration is likely to have little effect. Just like dealing with alcohol and teen pregnancies, an abstinence only approach dealing with guns (or with assault weapons) won’t work. America must deal with the reality that we are a gun culture. More education, while addressing the root of the problem, rather than the method, should be part of a broad plan to prevent these types of tragedies.