It’s Not All About Guns. It’s About Education & Love

 In Promoting Tolerance

A wave of violence continues to flood the American landscape with repeated attacks of hatred. These mass shootings, all motivated by racism and bigotry, have been perpetrated by ill- minded and sick individuals.  Additionally, there is no doubt that the rise of neoconservatism and white supremacy combined with populist rhetoric encourages crime in this country. After each of these deadly onslaughts, US citizens demand stricter gun laws and restrictions. However, considering the dysfunctional mentality of these murderers, restricting guns may be a short term solution to a long term problem. Barring our citizens with restrictions only further entices the barrage of argument on the second amendment. While the controversy lies on both sides politically, compassion overrides all political policies that can prevent acquiring destructive weapons. Being raised with care and love to foster a healthy mindset with education as to how resources should be used will cure our plagued nation.  

2 mass shootings took place within less than 24 hours: one in El Paso, Texas and the next morning, in Dayton Ohio. The El Paso shooter, 21 year old Patrick Cruisius, is believed to have written an anti-hispanic manifesto explaining his racist motives. Connor Betts, the shooter in Dayton, killed his male companion and his own sister among the nine he murdered (CNN). No stable individual would ever think to shoot innocent people, or for that matter someone from his own family. Behind the scenes of what we call “a criminal mind,” there is a wound that cannot be healed. These wounds, extremely vulnerable to being infected by hateful rhetoric and continued violent acts, exacerbate over time. Waiting for lawmakers to take the stand and demanding political action will neither heal the instability of these dysfunctional minds nor educate our citizens as to how guns should be used. Guns, like cars, have the ability to destroy lives, but both have their beneficial purpose: guns are to be used for defensive matters like cars are intended for safe transportation. It is the finger on the trigger or the hand maneuvering the wheel that makes all the difference, not the object itself. In light of this, those possessing a gun must be fully aware of what their weapon holds, but more importantly, they must be guided with fundamental values, ethics, and morals from a young age. 

In regards to gun control, it is important to compare the process of attaining a weapon in other countries versus in the United States before discussing the values we must instill into a new generation of Americans. In Germany, Japan, or Israel, guns are available for purchase. But, the major difference in the United States is the time it takes to obtain the weapon. In America, a quick background check is conducted and the subject’s criminal and immigrant status must be clean; after this instant process, one can easily buy a gun.  In Germany and Japan, it takes 10-15 years to acquire a weapon as one must undergo a series of exams, security checks, and training sessions (New York Times). In Israel, those holding a gun are army trained, background checked, and educated about a gun’s purpose and meaning: Israelis’ only priority is defense. 18 year old girls openly carry around guns or even rifles as they walk the streets. There have been no mass shootings conducted by Israelis in recent years. This demonstrates that the significance around gun ownership must be emphasised; controlling who has a gun and for what purpose must be clearly defined.  

It is most important that education in America must improve. Topics surrounding basic ethics and core principles must be covered in addition to academic material. Lessons on diversity, respect, and inclusivity must be infused into every subject taught in school so children understand what is civil and acceptable in society. Classes on global awareness must be implemented so children learn about, and thus accept all cultures, races, and ethnicities. In Israel for example, kids learn about ethics through bible studies, as they extract and analyze the morals from each story. 

Parenting is also an essential piece to the puzzle, however, it is impossible that all parents are capable of or have the time to guide their children. Whether these topics are covered at school or at home, they must be taught softly and with love: when kids are yelled at or mistreated, bitter feelings begin to accumulate.

The way a human being is raised and their childhood experiences mold them into the adults they become. Oftentimes, abused or neglected children harbor resentment towards others as the lack of love they receive leaves them feeling unwanted and ashamed.  Without loving and respecting yourself first, it is impossible to have compassion for anyone else. A spiraling self confidence accumulates into a vengeful passion over the years, and is usually projected toward people who appear as different. Additionally, many kids growing up are not taught to reconcile and comprehend differences, which is why the rhetoric in today’s political atmosphere is so effective and influential. Hateful speech and populist appeal become magnetic for those lacking love because they find hope in the uplifting, charismatic language of a strong willed leader. 

While gun control must be strengthened, it is imperative that this new generation of Americans receive a quality education growing up, filled with compassion, empathy, and love. If a child grows up surrounded by love and raised with proper direction, bitter feelings will not surface.  Learning about diversity and ethics will mold children into accepting and tolerant individuals who understand and respect differences. The solution to this complicated debate over gun control begins and ends with how children are raised and the way their minds are geared over time: it’s not all about guns, it’s about education and love. 

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