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I’ve heard of getting armed to the teeth, but this is ridiculous!

The town council in Nelson, Georgia, has passed a law requiring every household to have a gun and ammunition. I’m not kidding. And they’re not alone:

“Despite the skepticism surrounding it, Nelson’s “Family Protection Ordinance” is actually the latest in a series of toothless, symbolic measures proposed around the country. Spring City, Utah, approved a resolution in February that recommended residents keep firearms and attend new, city-sponsored gun safety classes. In Byron, Maine, a town official proposed a measure that would require guns in all household, but voters — all 50 of them — shot it down.”

Of course, the “usual suspects” would not be allowed to have guns: felons, people with diagnosed mental conditions, and children. But the NRA keeps telling us that laws are not followed by fellons. The evidence tells us that the mental health system is broken, so not everyone with a mental condition has been diagnosed. And children… Well, children with guns is just a bad, bad idea.

"Red rover, red rover, go ahead and make my day!"

“Red rover, red rover, go ahead and make my day!”

But even the Nelson, Georgia people admit that it’s a symbolic law to show the “govmint” that they ain’t taking none of their guns and such.


Because the government does a bang-up job of organizing to do stuff?

Seriously, though, we had the opportunity as a nation to have an honest discussion about our fascination with guns and the availability of them. Instead, we have these “symbolic” laws and other acts from politicians on the Left and on the Right, and nothing substancial is really getting done. Personally, I see it as an utter failure of leadership at all levels of government. Even the President seems to be a little disconnected now. He certainly is not as passionate about these matters as he was just after the shootings in Connecticut. He’s not offering a counter-balance to the proposals by the NRA.

Which brings me to the latest round of proposals by the NRA. It has proposed the following:

“[The NRA taskforce] released a 225-page report on Tuesday that called for armed police officers, security guards or staff members in every American school, and urged states to loosen gun restrictions to allow trained teachers and administrators to carry weapons…

Among the study’s central conclusions is that “the presence of armed security personnel adds a layer of security and diminishes response time” in a shooting, Mr. [Asa] Hutchinson said.”

Yes, let’s arm every single person inside a school, even those schools that are in zero-crime areas. That’s a good idea. Did the task force members take into consideration that there may be felons who are teachers, custodians, bus drivers, or librarians? Did they take into consideration that there are people with mental health issues who may hold those positions at schools? Did it occur to them that someone is going have the gun go off in the classroom?

Nah, that kind of thing never happens.


Yeah, okay, it does.

What I’m getting at is that the “two sides” of the debate need to be locked in a room and not allowed to come out until they compromise, which is something they haven’t been willing to do. The NRA hears “gun control” and they break into hives. The Left hears “guns” and they reach for the epi pens. And neither side wants to agree that we have too many guns, that there are dangerous people with high-powered or high-round guns, and that the evidence shows us that a gun in the household makes the people in the household more likely to get shot, not less, especially if the gun is not owned by a professional.

True story: He never had a gun "accident."

True story: He never had a gun “accident.”

And not just that… People who commit crimes with guns are not being put away for a very, very long time. They should. Zero tolerance to anyone who commits a gun crime should be the norm, not the exception, and certainly not controversial.

Unfortunately, we keep talking past each other, having debates about this and not really acting to make our homes, streets, jobs, and schools safer. How can we act? If you have a gun, learn about gun safety and teach the same to your kids. For God’s sake keep the gun secure, too.

If you don’t have a gun, don’t get one. Then again, if you feel that you need one to protect yourself in your neighborhood, then you’re probably in the wrong neighborhood. Arming yourself is not going to change that. They’ll just get you out on the street.

If you want to keep guns away from people with mental disease, then work to make the mental health system better and more accessible so that everyone who has a mental disease is not ashamed of seeking help and gets help. And, if you want to keep guns away from the bad guys, work with your elected representatives to enact zero tolerance laws and crime aversion programs to keep the kid who steals candy from becoming the mugger who kills for cash.

If you want to keep schools safe, train teachers to identify students who may become homicidal because of bullying and other circumstances in their lives. Teach students that it’s okay to tell on friends and fellow students who threaten violence because it’s not about being a “snitch.” It’s about saving lives. And give students access to the tools they need to deal with things in life that are stressing them. (Most of the shootings at schools are by students. The lone gunman walking into a school is a rarity.)

Finally, let’s do something meaningful and evidence-based about drug abuse. Too many people addicted to drugs will do anything for money to buy drugs, including shooting one of my cousins in the head as he headed home in his car. Yes, that’s right. I have first-hand experience of how horrible it feels to lose someone to gun violence. He was shot because the kid that shot him was out looking to score cash for his marijuana addiction. When my cousin would not give him money, or the car he was driving, this kid just up and shot him.

There are a lot of things we can do, and we need to do them now. We can’t wait. Lives are being taken by gun violence in the form of homicides and suicides, and all we can do is pass symbolic laws and propose undoable solutions. All we do is hurl insults at one another, like “gun-happy” or “libtard.” All our leaders seem to want to do is score donations and secure votes (and committee assignments).

And none of that is making any of us safe. Not at all.

Photo credits: Paulgi / / CC BY-NC-ND (child with gun), Tidewater Muse / / CC BY-NC-SA (Katrina).

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René F. Najera, DrPH

I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
About History of Vaccines: I am the editor of the History of Vaccines site, a project of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Please read the About page on the site for more information.
About Epidemiological: I am the sole contributor to Epidemiological, my personal blog to discuss all sorts of issues. It also has an About page you should check out.

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