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How do we stop gun violence? It's a matter of education

8/3 & 4/2019

(After the El Paso & Dayton mass shootings and the flags are at half-mast…again)

I have already posted some thoughts about the atrocities that continue to be perpetuated on the innocent citizens of our country, so what has changed? Unfortunately, nothing…we are not listening and certainly not acting so there needs to be another approach to protect future losses of our brainpower and the suffering of so many families because of these senseless killings.

The museum profession has long known and put into practice the education of our children, based on the belief that if we miss a single generation of teaching future leaders within our democracy about our various heritages and national probity we will have lost the security necessary to advance society in a positive direction. The famous quote, attributed to many is, “If you don’t know where you have come from, you don’t know where you are going” and if, “the past is prologue” then children of our current world, which is fraught with admonitions and fearful forecasts, will be no better prepared to meet the same challenges they will face as adults.

We, today, must pass on what we have processed and are learning about the “shooters”, their mantra, their hatred, their instability and the influences that take over sensibilities to the point of slaughtering fellow human beings. Maybe it is because of their race, a language we do not understand, a religion that seems threatening to us, celebrations and/or customs that we cannot comprehend but mostly a combination of personal attributes that are offensive to our center of the universe.

We have tried to make the proverbial square peg fit the round hole and vice versa and create some/any system that might be acceptable to all stake holders, politicos, anti and pro-gun enthusiasts, lobbyists and those young people who have actually experienced the decimation up close and personal. MAYBE this last weekend is the last straw, but nothing yet has altered the status quo thus far and the numbness continues.

What if, we look at the museological model, we start with the children, not like we did in the 1950’s when nuclear annihilation was imminent and the programs taught us how to scurry under our desks to be safe. However, a long-range introspective approach that could be presented at the appropriate grade levels would begin to educate the students as to what the causes and consequences are of hating someone without walking in their moccasins. The fact that it does not help the killer’s “cause”, that the pain and suffering by all those involved is life changing, that the lineages of those lives taken are forever lost and affects civilization far into the future.

Identifying the shooters before they take action, background checks for all sales, red flag and other laws controlling bump-stocks and extra-large clips and even taking military armament off the market are vital as we go forward. However, at the moment, as a matter of record, we are still trying to close Pandora’s box. Criminals with intent will continue to have access to weapons of mass destruction, but if our children are taught/know/understand, the outcome of determined ignorance and hate and the effects of the resulting actions then there may be a glimmer of hope. As long as they are not being influenced by the rhetoric of mad men but by teachers, parents, social workers and organizations created to bring civility and enlightenment back to the table. Then, they may become cognizant, if not committed, to make sure these attitudes/motives do not continue or at the very least be more aware of those who intend harm to their families, friends, classmates and neighbors.

IF we start now through the educational systems/processes we will have the next generation that will comprehend how and why we can and must change and make a difference by taking on the responsibility of continuing to educate their children. While at the same time, not taking away their rights to personal protection, hunting, sporting clays and skeet, competition and recreational shooting, collecting firearms, etc.

Therefore, it has to be a multi-faceted approach, doing everything humanly possible to close the loopholes, deploy sensible parameters around mental health issues, sales and purchases of assault weaponry, potential overreach of the First Amendment to the point of threatening the stability of the country and eliminating the hate mongering and promotion of Neo-Nazism on social media. Yes, admittedly, it will take a generation to begin to turn the situation around, but what do we have to lose at this rate except many more blameless lives?


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