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OPINION: Gun violence through the eyes of an 8-year old boy

| December 11, 2018, 10:08 AM
Rams Head
Torrey Snow

Torrey Snow, Citizen Statesman

A church has historically been a place of sanctuary and safety.  During our evening worship service, “Santa Claus” was making his rounds in the local neighborhood, to a blaring chorus of sirens and response vehicles.  In the public testimony time, my eight-year old son, asked for the microphone. There is no parent that doesn’t begin to sweat bullets when their child has a microphone before a large group of people. Nothing could prepare me for what happened next.

“Um.. I just saw a lot of police cars, and I think that means that there’s a shooter,” he said with a trembling voice.  As a father, I nearly died inside, as I saw just how scared my son was.  My mind was immediately overwhelmed with emotion, and I barely managed to keep my composure, as I led the congregation in hymns for the remainder of the singing portion.

So this is the world we live in.  A world where children understand the threat of violent shooters, intrinsically.  I don’t remember ever directly speaking to my son on the subject, but he has participated in emergency response drills with classmates.  He’s extremely perceptive, so I have no doubt he has assessed the state of his world from news stories or random conversations.  And it’s a world where a friendly neighborhood Santa Claus makes him fearful of active shooters.

There’s a pervasive lie being circulated that Republicans don’t care about the gun violence crisis that scourges our nation.  To the contrary, as advocates for the constitution, the right to life is chief among our priorities.  It is true, that many of us are reluctant to look to legislation to help us wage war on this national epidemic.  Much of that centers around the fact that our government struggles to properly enforce the existing laws we have on the books.  Not only that, many of us feel that such legislation would do little more than give us all a false sense of security that we are dealing with the issue.  Then there’s the discussion of the Constitutional right to bear arms, which is the key facilitator of individual freedom.

I do feel we have struggled to articulate our own answer to the scourge of gun violence.  To speak from my own perspective, there are three responsibilities that I embrace as a citizen statesman, to help address gun violence.

First, I believe we should state plainly the truth we fear most:  our culture loves violence.  We should say this early, and we should say it often.  I believe that declaring this simple truth is so difficult to process, and often draws the most visceral responses.  We hate to be confronted with the truth that our favorite entertainment features violence on an unparalleled scale, often featuring firearms.  From video-games, music, and hit TV shows, we consume violent content in gluttonous volumes.  We often don’t stop there, but allow and even encourage our children, as young as 7 and 8 to consume this media with almost no restraint. We live in a permanent state of denial that this consumption has any negative impacts on the mental health of our youth.  As a culture, we should examine our media habits, and push ourselves to make some hard choices.  A complex discussion for sure, but one that should be explored.

Second, we should embrace methods of voluntary accountability with firearm ownership.  Powerful organizations like the NRA should open their massive coffers to encourage firearm owners to promote responsible Gun Ownership.  In my opinion, this is more than gun locks and safes.  Firearm owners should voluntarily educate themselves about mental health risks. They should hold each other accountable for reckless behavior.  Firearm vendors should willingly embrace the highest level of accountability, and seek to advance the cause of liberty, rather than advancing the profits of their venture.  This is a complex topic, but we need to have more discussion about what responsible gun ownership looks like, and clearly outline behaviors that should merit intervention.  For example, does a man that threatens to kill his wife and child demonstrate reckless irresponsibility?  It is my opinion that such a man cannot be trusted with the power of life and death.

Finally, I see a huge need to think of gun violence in its entirety.  It has long frustrated me that the discussion of gun violence is almost exclusively linked to mass shootings.  The truth is, Americans have been living with apocalyptic gun violence for decades, but it rarely enters the discussion.  Such violence leaves rivers of blood in the streets of our poor communities.  In our own backyard, we are nearly numb to the near routine stories of toddlers and kindergartners eating bullets instead of lollipops.  Our nation rightly grinds to a halt when a violent madman desecrates our houses of worship.  Yet the same nation offers a mere click of the tongue when a child’s teddy bear marks the site where the 5-year old suffered unbelievable agony with a bullet lodged in her groin.  We must never talk about gun violence, without talking about urban violence.

If we are to make progress as a society, we must do our part to become active participants in this discussion.  We all have different ideas about how to move forward as a nation, but the great thing about our ideas, is that these ideas that don’t require legislation.  These are things we all can move forward on.  I urge my fellow Republicans/Conservatives to join me in building the discussion around these three areas.  None of them require legislation, and all of them are highly compatible with the principles of liberty.  With some effort, we can articulate a strong platform, and then ask our legislators to support policies that strengthen these ideas.  Let’s make it happen, in the hopes that our grandchildren won’t be fearful of shooters, when Santa Claus makes the rounds in the community.

–Torrey Snow

Note: This was originally published on Torrey Snow’s website.

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