In the wake of the horror of little kids being gunned down, there’s considerable talk about stricter gun laws; particularly assault type guns and large capacity clips. And there is and will continue to be the same old debates about the effectiveness of gun control laws. “Guns don’t kill people….” “If people don’t have access to guns….” And when the emotion of this last shooting subsides we will be back to pretty much where we are now.
Of course, we all know deep down that guns and gun control legislation really are not the problem or the solution. (Prohibition did not stop bootlegging and drug laws have not reduced the use of drugs.) If human beings behaved with love and respect towards each other, there would be no need to control or regulate the sale and ownership of guns. Why were there not shootings in schools back in the 50s? Even the rowdiest teenager in the 50s would never think to kill somebody. That’s not to say there wasn't violence; that there weren't terrible crimes committed. There were plenty of people killed with guns. But when a racist bombs a church, or a gangster eliminates his competition, a person can at least follow the reasoning; faulty as it may be. To shoot people in a theater or students on a campus or babies in an elementary school is not rational. This is the work of a twisted mind.
And that brings us to the point. The point no one wants to address. Because it means we have to change ourselves instead of trying to force others to change. Why didn't Wally Cleaver’s friend Eddie commit heinous crimes? Why was Elvis censored only for wearing blue suede shoes? Perhaps because forty, fifty, sixty years ago we were better people. On the whole, we believed we had a corporate responsibility to raise kids to be good citizens. This meant watching out for the neighbors kids besides just your own. School principals were expected to handle discipline problems so the school could function as a place of learning rather than a war zone. If an adult saw a young person doing something dangerous or wrong, he did something about it instead of “minding his own business”. If a boy was caught stealing candy from the dime store, more than likely the manager would call the boy’s parents instead of the cops. And that worked because the parents would have addressed the issue.
So many people are afraid to define what is right; to proclaim a difference between good and evil. That’s why the old movies - white hat, black hat - seem so fake to us today. As though the characters weren't real. They weren't! They were only images of right and wrong. A portrayal of what a better world would look like. There was a belief that we were, and should be, trying to make the world a better place. And we were each to do our part.
You can pass all the gun laws you want. Until we really want to be moral it will matter not. Until we are willing to accept that we are not as good as we used to be - until we believe we can be that good again -there will be more shootings. There will be more chaos. There will be the wringing of hands and the gnashing of teeth.