School Climate & Safety Opinion

Schools, Guns, and Common Sense

By Jill Berkowicz & Ann Myers — April 11, 2013 2 min read
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Common sense is a commodity in short supply some days and leaders ought to acknowledge it when they see it. These days it appears that the second amendment is the greatest of them all. It simply says “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Do we really think that author James Madison or the Congress of 1789 could imagine the weapons of today or the debate in which we find ourselves?

Within weeks after the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, a Chamber of Commerce 100 miles away announced its new fundraiser... a golf and shoot. It’s true. Even in the shadow of the children being massacred, guns as sport raised money. The power of that cannot be lost. The possession and use of guns exists across all socio economic groups. Whether it’s a hand gun on a city street, a shotgun in the hands of a hunter, the President of the United States skeet shooting with friends, Americans and guns have been connected since our beginnings as a nation. Guns kill; in the wrong hands they take away lives of the innocent. The second amendment, like all of our rights, comes with limitations and responsibilities.

How must Gabby Gifford feel as folks stand up and defend the need for assault weapons? What about the parents of those children and the families of all of those lost to the gunfire at Newtown? The daughter of Dawn Hochsprung, the Sandy Hook principal who was killed in the attack at her elementary school, sent out a Tweet challenge. Senators who intend to filibuster against changes in gun laws, will you talk to her? Only one has responded. After Sandy Hook, every principal across the nation woke up to a frightening reality. It could happen anywhere. And, as they walked their hallways on the Monday morning following December 14, they wondered what they would do if it were their school instead of Dawn’s.

Our nation remains one in which disagreement means opposition. We are either for or against, left or right, right or wrong. In our legislatures, laws are passed as weaker cousins to the robust initial bills introduced. Instead of inviting others’ opinion into a space where we listen and respect each other’s voices, listen and learn, we fight, and advocate for our own position. We lose the initial strength of the bill and wind up with a weaker, less effective bill, we have no winner, and we remain divided.

Are there perfect solutions? No, but, until we overcome the human conditions that lead to violence, we must make better laws. Arming teachers is not the answer. Putting armed guards in every school is not the answer. Limiting access by background checks is a step that can be taken. Where do we begin to advocate and how do we use our positions to educate?

Common sense must prevail. Perhaps it might even happen in Washington, DC. Senator Pat Toomey R-PA, alongside Joe Manchin D-WV on Capitol Hill said, “I’m a gun owner, and the rights that are enshrined in the Second Amendment are very, very important to me personally. But I’ve got to tell you, candidly, that I don’t consider criminal background checks to be gun control. I think it’s just common sense.” We do too.

Note:Dawn Hochsprung was enrolled in the Education Leadership Doctoral Program at the Esteves School of Education and was one of Ann’s students.

Ann and Jill welcome your Tweets!

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