Friday, August 12, 2022

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Guest Commentary

It’s not about guns, it’s about mental health


You may smile at the brevity, but here goes: Pencils don’t fail tests, hammers don’t build houses, cars don’t drive drunk. There are all kinds of laws on how to do things in this world, and most people who find themselves visited by law enforcement are not following those laws. Don’t punish and put at risk the law-abiding citizens. What has happened to our children with school shootings is a tragedy. I am not trying to state otherwise. This country has lost its way, and unless our moral base is brought back to society as a norm, we shall continue to suffer.

I am not a school administrator, but I would be concerned about any teacher breaking down in such a situation.

But, as a parent, I would want the truth from my child’s teachers. If the teacher feels that the home front/parents are not doing enough to foster little Jimmy’s educational growth, does the teacher in that situation not need the security and full support of his/her employer to be blunt and honest to the parents? Being scared to confront parents should be an issue that the schools/state fully back the teacher on and assist with.

The decision to arm oneself comes down to the individual. Being able to make the decisions during a confrontation with a terrorist is a deeply seeded personal one. Most people don’t go out and get a gun just to have one. The individual is Constitutionally gifted, barring any background issues, to own that gun to protect him/herself, the family, friends and loved ones from law breakers. I want my child’s teachers to be able to protect their students, be it with a gun, chemical spray, taser, bamboo club, baseball bat — anything. What I don’t want is that teacher to only have one recourse, and that is to put his/her students in a closet and have to face that terrorist unarmed. That offensive or defensive tool that a teacher chooses may be just the thing to create a diversion, change a mindset or put the fear of God into someone enough to diffuse a situation.

Should we expect the wild west and think that these armed educators are going to be expert marksmen? No. Most law enforcement officers have never used their gun except to prepare, and I would think that if that individual educator makes the decision to arm him or herself, he or she will need to have all the assistance one can get to feel comfortable and able to carry that weapon. Again I want to reiterate that the decision to arm one’s self is a deep-seeded one of capability and willingness. No one but you and your Hollywood, bully-beatdown attitude expects expert marksmanship from these individual educators. Even the “experts” err once in a while. They train, like all good gun owners should: Expect the best; train for the worst. Wouldn’t we at the very least want that error to be on the side of saving children’s lives, their protection? Showing a gun or a defensive tool, choosing a side and standing up for that choice, not permanently riding the fence because your employer has taken the right to self preservation and child protection out of your hands and given it to whom?

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Making the gun the issue is one of laziness and ignorance. Do you remember the story of the grade school boy sent home recently for making a gun gesture with his fingers. Let’s go ahead and outlaw cowboys and Indians while we’re at it. Oops, can I even say Indians anymore? Zero tolerance seems to create 100 percent ignorance. If little Jimmy never gets to use a gun during his lifetime, he shouldn’t be taught that it is a bad thing. That is a personal issue that should be done on the family level. Thinking the law will stop such things from happening does not actually stop things from happening. Criminals and terrorists do not follow society’s laws.

Looking into gun laws around the globe, I came across a fact that now, after Australia has confiscated all privately-owned guns, the law makers there are at a loss for why crime has increased. Look at the crime and murder rate in the U.K. Look locally at places like Chicago, which has one of the strictest gun laws in the United States, and the murder rate is higher than our deaths in Iraq/Afghanistan. A well-armed and mentally-ready public is a quicker protector than your local and federal government. CV               

Mike Kooker is from Altoona.

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