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Off Topic? Yes, But Unless We Get Away from Guns, Education Is Meaningless

During the presidential campaign, Ann Romney said, “I’m hearing from so many women that may not have considered voting for a Republican before, but said, ‘It’s time for the grown-up to come, the man that’s going to take this seriously, that’s going to take the future of our children very, very seriously’.”  Except for the political party, she got it exactly right. I only hope that Obama who, right now, is behaving like a grown-up in reaction to Friday’s killings, continues to. The Republicans, including Mitt Romney, certainly have not.

The craze of gun ownership, especially high-powered weapons of no purpose but killing humans, is childish. Those who enable it cater to children and abandon the responsibilities of adults. Spoutings in the wake of the killings, such as Mike Huckabee’s comment that the killings happened because we “removed God from our schools”:  Nonsense. Any adult knows that the killings happened because we have too many guns, too high powered, and too easily available. Only a child, and a willfully ignorant one at that, can believe otherwise.

Huckabee, though, is nowhere near as childish and petulant as Larry Pratt, of Gun Owners of America, who said “Gun control supporters have the blood of little children on their hands.”  He claims, without any evidence or logic, that armed teachers would have stopped the carnage, and that their lack of guns is the fault of law. Such infantile claims sound like nothing so much as “he made me do it.”

Adults know that guns kill people. Yes, they generally have to be in the hands of people, but the killings result from the use of extremely dangerous weapons and, in most cases, only from that. Without the guns, far fewer people would die. There’s no way to argue otherwise, certainly not if you are seeing the world as a grown-up.

An adult society does not encourage the use of lethal weapons as playthings, yet we do this all the time, from the way we depict them in movies and videogames to the “hobbyists” (like Friday’s killer’s mother) who take their families shooting for “sport.” Guns are not toys, and playing with guns as toys is not something a grown-up does.

I’ve had bullets rustle leaves a few feet above me, have had guns (in the hands of real children) pointed at my head, and lived with the sound of gunfire both in Burkina Faso in the mid-1980s and in Brooklyn in the early 1990s. I did not like it. None of us, if we are to live as adults, should.

Listen, if you will, to Lou Reed imagining the thoughts of a child-man with a gun. It is chilling, especially today:

About Aaron Barlow

English faculty, New York City College of Technology (CUNY) and Faculty Editor, "Academe."

4 comments on “Off Topic? Yes, But Unless We Get Away from Guns, Education Is Meaningless

  1. martinkich
    December 15, 2012

    I don’t see this as being at all “off-topic.” There has been a long history of gun violence on American college campuses, both before and after the massacre at Virginia Tech. Given that there is a national effort to do away with gun prohibitions on our campuses, the time to be discussing these issues is now–not after the violence on our campuses inevitably escalates because of wrong-headed decisions have been made to appease political special- interest groups.

    • Aaron Barlow
      December 15, 2012

      Martin, you are right. In addition, we cannot teach effectively with the threat of violence hanging over our campuses.

  2. Lol Fow
    December 15, 2012

    I am ever thankful we don’t teach college in a state that has legalized guns on campus.

  3. Udgupta
    December 16, 2012

    Love this one, Aaron!

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This entry was posted on December 15, 2012 by in ethics, students, working conditions and tagged .
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