A difference in cultures
I find James Dupont’s letter last week about preventing gun-related violence in schools astonishingly nearsighted. His solution of installing armed guards within our schools, or creating a secret teacher police, would further an atmosphere of fear and paranoia virtually indistinguishable from a totalitarian dystopia, disregarding the question of why events such as the Newtown massacre occur.
The irony of citing the 2nd Amendment as a reason to hire government-funded guards only shows why teachers should focus primarily on educating. When I attended Berkeley Springs High School, if any member of the faculty was armed, let alone some “mercenary,” it would be the last thing that would have made me feel safe.
After high school, I went to university in Canada, where I experienced first-hand how similar and how different that country’s culture is. In the past two decades in Canada, there have been five school shootings resulting in just four fatalities, compared with our 48 incidents resulting in 145 fatalities plus additional casualties. Two important differences between the U.S. and Canada: a universal health care system that addresses mental health issues, and strict gun control.
For every gun homicide in Canada, the U.S. has six per capita (2009 data). Canada’s restrictive measures on assault weapons, handguns, high capacity clips and the inability to conceal carry weapons contributes to the safety its citizens enjoy. Certainly it can’t be that our northern neighbors are more civilized.
If we truly desire to end this senseless violence, we must focus on equipping our teachers not with guns, but with better ways to educate. Increased mental health funding and an atmosphere conducive to higher learning will drive down violent crime, not schools ready for Wild West shootouts in the hallways.
There have been more than 410 gun-related homicides since the Sandy Hook slaughter. Schemes that favor increased usage of firearms as a solution to the U.S. gun problem are an insult to the memories of the 26 victims in Newtown, as well as the tens of thousands of victims each year. Paranoid attitudes that promote the escalation of armed vigilantes perpetrate these massacres, not prevent them.
It is the mark of a truly civilized society to try and better itself by providing well-funded social programs to all its citizens (health care, education, etc.). It is this world that we should strive to create for future generations, and not the Orwellian alternative.