President Donald Trump met with students at the White House this past week to discuss possible solutions to gun violence. In the meeting, President Trump suggested that we give guns to “gun-adept” teachers in an effort to protect students from mass shootings like the one in Florida this past week.
First of all, to anyone suggesting that arming teachers could prevent shootings like the one in Florida, consider this: There was an armed sheriff’s deputy at the Florida school on the day of the shooting. While the shooter took the lives of 17 innocent people, the deputy, Scot Peterson, hid behind a wall outside of the building.
If a sheriff’s deputy failed to protect these innocent people, why should we think teachers would be any more effective? Should we arm “gun-adept” preachers for shootings at churches? Should we arm “gun-adept” umpires for shootings at baseball games? Should we arm “gun-adept” office managers for shootings in the workplace? No. No. No.
Trump’s suggestion is not a solution. The solution to gun violence involves taking guns away from people, not giving guns to more people. We need to outlaw the private ownership of guns in the United States.
What’s particularly concerning to me is the fact that President Trump’s suggestion to arm teachers doesn’t even address the root of our gun violence problem. It’s only a short-term “fix” to a uniquely American problem. Arming teachers doesn’t stop whatever is causing mass shootings in the first place.
President Trump’s suggestion to arm teachers in order to prevent mass shootings is like a doctor wiping sweat off of a patient’s forehead in order to cure a fever. While you shouldn’t ignore external evidence of an internal problem, the most effective thing to do is to address the problem itself.
The overwhelming presence of guns in our country isn’t the only cause of mass shootings. Mental illness, for example, certainly plays a role as well. Of all the long-term solutions to stopping mass shootings I’ve heard, though, outlawing private gun ownership is likely to be the most effective option.
So ask yourself this question: Does anyone actually, truly need a gun?
I’d argue that no private citizen needs a gun. If you hunt, there are other ways to hunt that don’t involve guns. If you own a gun for protection, ask yourself: Who am I protecting myself from? The answer might be: “Other people with guns who want to rob me or kill me.” Consider that you could protect yourself with a taser or pepper spray, especially if the other person also didn’t have a gun.
In an ideal world, one without mass shootings occurring at an alarming rate, owning a gun for these reasons, or any others, would be fine.
Unfortunately, though, people can and do use guns to inflict violence and pain and suffering. Guns are tools for inflicting damage and causing death, and they’re being used for this purpose far too often.
Many of my relatives own guns, and I know that they are all responsible gun owners. I know they like their guns, and I know they use them safely and carefully. I love and respect them because they are thoughtful people, and I know many gun owners are just like my relatives.
But the time has come for us to step back and think: Is owning this thing so important to me that I’d resist outlawing it, even though people use it to murder children?
I understand that proposing to completely outlaw private gun ownership in the United States is idealistic. You might argue: “Tom, just because someone else used a gun to kill somebody, it doesn’t mean I will. Why should I have my gun taken away because somebody else used theirs for murder? I own knives and cars, and people have used those for murder too–are you also going to take those away?”
These are reasonable objections. They’re particularly important ones, too, because the right to bear arms is protected by the Second Amendment. Guns, though, were created for violence. Knives and cars were not—or at the very least—not in the same capacity. What’s more, it would be naive to suggest that people use knives and cars as often as guns to commit murder.
People have argued that we should outlaw the ownership of anything other than handguns, and that’s a reasonable starting point. We shouldn’t stop there, though. I just hope politicians in Washington listen to the cries and protests of the students affected by gun violence. They’re louder and more visceral now than ever before. How many innocent children have to die before we take the guns away?
Tom is a second semester fourth-year student studying cognitive science, philosophy and math. Check out his other poorly written pieces on his Medium blog.