EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Gun discussions should be about safety

2013-07-14T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Gun discussions should be about safetyBy Terry McCullough nwitimes.com
July 14, 2013 12:00 am  • 

As open minded as I think I want to be, I just can’t get used to the thought of just anyone being able carry a gun just because they want one. I’m not saying it’s a right or wrong. After all, everybody carried guns back in the cowboy days.

Our Constitution even mentions “the right to bear arms.” That right was established at a time when we were at constant war internally, had to defend ourselves against “natives," bank robbers, horse thieves, cattle rustlers, land grabbers and wild animals.

However, today the gun ownership craze seems to have a life of its own. Consumer support and applications for gun permits are at an all-time high, and now Kansas even allows teachers to carry guns on campus. Like in the cowboy days, we are faced with the ever-present possibility of having to protect ourselves against thieves, thugs, terrorists, students and “zombies."

The media debate is at best a duke’s mixture of truth fact and fiction, distracting us from a higher level discussion about the direction our society is taking. Just who are we afraid of anyway? How many bad guys do we come across every day?

For me it all boils down to parental responsibility. Discussion between parents and their children about guns in the home has not even begun to take shape in public forum yet. One well-known organization stresses “The Key Points For Kids” is: "STOP! Don't Touch. Leave the Area. Tell an Adult." It's a message all parents -- especially gun carrying parents -- must take seriously.

Having a gun in the home is one of those secrets parents will not be able to hide from their children. Kids are naturally curious and naturally love to challenge authority. Every parent knows that even their best child has searched the house for hidden presents, among other things. And who is to say that one day your kid will not find that gun in your secret hiding place?

It’s hopefully locked of course -- and safe. But now that he has found the hiding place, he can visit it any time you are not around. He may see no need to tell you about it. After all, it is a secret hiding place, and now he has a secret as well.

I shudder to think what it will be like when taxi drivers have to screen passengers for guns, when businesses have to add gun policies in their employee handbook, what schools will be like when teachers carry pistols in the classroom and what parent-teacher conferences will feel like when both parent and teacher are carrying guns as they debate why Johnny is being expelled for bringing a gun to school to protect himself from the school bully.

Terry McCullough is program manager for the Thornton Township Youth Committee. The opinions are the writer's.

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