a look at our freedom


Gun Ban Results In Tragic Deaths

BOSTON -- National guard units seeking to confiscate a cache of recently banned assault rifles were ambushed on April 19th by elements of a paramilitary extremist faction. Military and law enforcement officials estimate that 72 were killed and more than 200 injured before government forces were compelled to withdraw.
   Speaking after the clash, Massachusetts Governor Thomas Gage declared that the extremist faction, which was made up of local citizens, has links to the radical right-wing tax protest movement.
   Gage blamed the extremists for recent incidents of vandalism directed against internal revenue offices. The governor, who described the group's organizers as "criminals," issued an executive order authorizing the summary arrest of any individual who has interfered with the government's efforts to secure law and order.
   The military raid on the extremist arsenal followed widespread refusal by the local citizenry to turn over recently outlawed assault weapons. Gage issued a ban on military-style assault weapons and ammunition earlier in the week. This decision followed a meeting earlier this month between government and military leaders at which the governor authorized the forcible confiscation of illegal arms.
   One government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, pointed out that "none of these people would have been killed had the extremists obeyed the law and turned over their weapons voluntarily."
   Government troops initially succeeded in confiscating a large supply of outlawed weapons and ammunition. However, troops attempting to seize arms and ammunition in Lexington met with resistance from heavily-armed extremists who had been tipped-off regarding the government's plan.
   During a tense standoff in Lexington's town park, National Guard Colonel Francis Smith, commander of the government operation, ordered the armed group to surrender and return to their homes. The impasse was broken by a single shot, which was reportedly fired by one of the right-wing extremists.
   Eight civilians were killed in the ensuing exchange. Ironically, the local citizenry blamed government forces rather than the extremists for the civilian deaths. Before order could be restored, armed citizens from surrounding areas had descended upon the guard units. Colonel Smith, finding his forces overmatched by the armed mob, ordered a retreat.
   Governor Gage has called upon citizens to support the state/national joint task force in its effort to restore law and order. The governor has also demanded the surrender of those responsible for planning and leading the attack against the government forces. Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock, who have been identified as "ringleaders" of the extremist faction, remain at large.

Source: New American magazine (Author is unknown).

Guns in America's Classrooms?
by Carmen Tassone

hen will Americans stop pointing fingers and start taking responsibility for their actions? I don't think placing blame elsewhere will solve any of the problems we face today. In particular, I don't see violence in our classrooms as the fault of the gun, but rather as an undesirable byproduct of our societal leniency toward immoral behavior, the lack of parental control and discipline over their children, and the inability of today's children to develop and utilize self-control.
     Dr John Rosemond, a family psychologist from North Carolina, wrote in a column for The State newspaper, "No, the recent tragedy in Littleton is not symptomatic of lax gun control, but rather lax parents, lax schools, lax discipline, lax standards, lax expectations, and a culture which has become lax to the point of virtual indifference when it comes to morals, personal responsibility, and critical thinking." (Jasper)
    Furthermore, I don't see banning guns to be the answer. "Guns don't kill, people kill." And until we accept this simple truth, we will never get to the root of the problem. And if we continue to displace fault, I believe we will continue to experience similar tragic school shootings and remain victims of violent crimes.
    Before legislators introduce or enact more gun control provisions, I would like to remind our lawmakers of another very obvious fact: Criminals, by the nature of their trade and their intended aim neither follow nor value law; in fact, they break and circumvent the law. So, more controls intended to curb criminal activities will do nothing more than violate the rights of law-abiding citizens.
    An obvious, but overlooked aspect of disarming the lawful public would be their inability to protect themselves when confronted by the lawless--those with guns. Something not reported in the media is how guns in fact save lives and stop violent crimes. Australia recently forced gun owners to surrender their personal firearms. For 25 years, Australia had seen a decline in armed robberies, but since this new law was enacted, armed robberies have increased 44 percent.  Other interesting facts include, the country's homicide rate has gone up 3.2 percent, its assaults have risen 8.6 percent, and in the state of Victoria alone, homicides from firearms have gone up 300 percent. (Quinn)
    Armed with only common sense, it is obvious to me that criminals will less likely commit violent acts with or without guns, if they know there is a chance their intended victims will be tooting side arms. It should be understood that criminals normally target the weak, or as it is commonly referred to: "soft targets." Schools are soft targets because of the 1996 federal "Kohl Law," which restricts people from taking guns within 2,000 feet of a school; thus making schools "free murder zones." (Jasper) Anti-gun advocates who believe such a law will reduce gun violence in our schools are gravely mistaken. Do they actually believe a a criminal is going to follow that law. On the other hand, if citizens are permitted the right-to-carry, when criminals do follow through with violent acts on soft targets, armed citizens can take measures to protect themselves, as well as, people who otherwise would be targets for criminals.
    Law professor John R. Lott from the University of Chicago confirmed this through his research on gun violence.  Lott claimed that "concealed-handgun laws reduced death and injuries from mass public shootings to zero." Lott reported "For those states from which data are available before and after the passage of such laws, the mean per-capita death rate from mass shootings in those states plummeted by 69 percent." (Jasper) Even more important, States that have laws allowing citizens to carry concealed handguns, have a better chance of stopping, if not deterring gun violence than those States without this law. (Jasper)
    In fact, Lott detailed when concealed handgun laws went into effect in a county, "murders fell by about 8 percent, rapes fell by 7 percent." And according to Lott, States that don't have the right-to-carry concealed gun provisions could have avoided 1,570 murders, 4,177 murders and over 60,000 aggravated assaults annually. (Jasper) The point here is clear, guns save lives and prevent violence.
    Don't get me wrong, I'm not pro-gun, but I'm not anti-gun either. And I'm not, nor have I ever been an NRA advocate. But I don't see disarming the public as a way of stopping the violence. In fact, I see it as a contributing factor in the rise of violent acts, as apparent in Australia.
    I would like to once more emphasis my position on guns. I've never owned a gun, and I probably never will. The only time I've ever shot a gun was in Basic Training. However, my reluctance to own or use a gun doesn't give me the right to infringe upon someone else's right to have a gun; no matter the reason for their wanting one. And I'm sorry if some people disagree, but the Second Amendment of the US Constitution clearly gives Americans the right to own guns, and any abridge to that right would be unconstitutional.
    Several times in America's history the Supreme Court has had to rule on whether bearing arms was an individual's right or a collective right of a State. "Since 1857 the Supreme Court has treated the Second Amendment as guaranteeing an individual right." (Fezell) Probably the most famous of these decisions was the Dred Scott Case (Scott v. Stanford). At the time, southern slave owners were not for freeing their slaves, let alone wanting to give them the right to bare arms, but in this case, the high court declared a person's skin color did not prohibit the individual's right to own and bear arms. (Fezell)
    Although the Supreme Court has held the Second Amendment as an individual's right, I would like to stress that this amendment isn't just another one of our rights. It is the bedrock to all our other rights. It is the very foundation that supports and secures all of our individual rights afforded to us by our Constitution and the blood that has been spilt to protect this time-honored document and our way of life. And to me, a pursuit to ban guns in the United States would be futile. But if such laws were enacted to take away or limit the Second Amendment, I see it as the beginning to the end of our other rights and freedoms. If the public allows the government to limit or remove the bedrock amendment, other individual rights will fall; such as freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion, and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures; just to mention a few. 
    Therefore, I feel we should direct our attention and efforts to more meaningful, apposite and realistic solutions to the gun problem.  And though efforts by most anti-gun advocates are praiseworthy, I feel they are attacking the problem from the wrong angle. For instance, in today's age of medicine, a doctor doesn't just lop off a person's arm because he or she has a fractured radius, but rather a doctor sets the bone and puts the arm in a brace for support and to restrict movement so the bone can heal. But from what I can see, anti-gun advocates are using the lopping-off strategy by blaming guns for all the violence and by calling for the elimination of guns.
    The anti-gun advocates base their so-called solution on a belief if they can get rid of all the guns, the problem will go away. But they need to realize they'd be kidding themselves if they think they can actually get rid of all the guns. There is no doubt that they'll be unable to get all the criminal or illegal guns. And any attempt to disarm the public is simply playing into the hands of the criminal element in our society and into the clutches of a government wanting more control over its people. Banning guns will not stop the violence, it will only open the door to more violence and attacks on the general law-abiding citizen.

"This year will go down in history.
For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration.
Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient,
and the world will follow our lead into the future!"
--Adolph Hitler, 1933

    What's more, I don't see any attempt to dismantle a Constitutional right as a way to resolve illegal acts or as a way to get to the source of the problem. Matter of fact, I see such attempts more counterproductive than productive. I don't see taking people's rights away to be the answer to anything; surely not the solution to such a complicated problem as gun violence.
    From education and experience, I've learned in order to solve a problem, it must first be clearly defined. And I don't believe either side has clearly identified the problem as of yet. And so, confusion about a resolution is the ultimate result. But in short, I believe a clear definition of the gun problem in America's classrooms is our children have unrestricted access to guns, and our children have the will to use them to cause harm to others and to themselves.
    Note this problem is two fold. One part is the fact that children have unrestricted access to weapons, while the other part is that they are willing to use these weapons to do harm to themselves or to others.
    To solve the first part of the problem, I think it would be logical to simply deny children access to these weapons. How? Well, I believe a senior researcher by the name of David Kennedy at Harvard University's Kennedy school of government has found the answer. He "believes police can drastically reduce crime by going after the people who make guns so accessible to juveniles." (Cooperman) According to Kennedy, going after the illegal dealers will take the guns out of the hands of our children. This would also apply to convicted felons who could use these weapons for violent acts.
    Since Boston initiated a strategy against illegal gun dealers, the city has not experienced a single death of a young person from a firearm for more than two years. Kennedy attributes this achievement "to gang prevention and gun tracing." (Cooperman)
    To me such a strategy makes good, sound sense.  The legal gun dealers are not the ones supplying guns to our children, but rather, its the "straw buyer" who purchases 30 to 40 guns at a time and then resells them on the street illegally. (Cooperman) Tracing the legal sell of guns to the illegal use of guns will lead to the illegal dealers supplying the guns to our children. To me the illegal gun dealers (the suppliers) are the ones we need to get off our streets.
    Kennedy said, "Three years ago, if you looked around the country and said 'what are you doing about people selling guns to adult felons and juveniles?' the answer was essentially 'nothing.'" But today he says this is not so. (Cooperman)

"There's been this historically unprecedented, and by any measure appalling increase, in youth gun violence in the last 10-12 years."
--David Kennedy, Harvard Univ.

    Does this mean Kennedy has found the solution of guns in our classroom? Maybe. It could solve the first part of the problem by reducing the appeal of gangs to our youth and tracing legal gun sells to illegal acts that lead back to the illegal dealers. This in turn, reduces the supply of guns and increases their value of the weapons on the street. And according Daniel Webster, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research in Baltimore, "It's a pretty revolutionary idea." He goes on to say, "When you dry up supply, cost goes up and the market goes down, it's classic macroeconomics." (Cooperman)
    Such a strategy would keep the Second Amendment intact, while at the same time it would reduce violent crimes committed by our children (and felons) with guns. The author of the article Kids Can Easily Get Guns wrote, "It worked -- gang violence plummeted" when referring to the results from other cities, twenty-five in all, that have followed Boston's success by initiating similar strategies against gangs and guns in their cities. (Wouters) For instance, Minneapolis experienced "an 80% drop in its homicide rate last summer." (Cooperman) Success stories like these will continue to make our schools and our streets safer for our children. Even the federal government has recently reported that violent crimes have been steadily on the decline for the past eight years. (CNN)
    However, I would advise everyone to be skeptical of surveys and studies. In particular, the reports we are force feed by the government and the news media. The results of any survey can be easily skewed by simply wording questions in a particular way or asking certain question in a certain order. Also, reports can be harmful if only certain statistics are reported. I question the merit of the FBI report on crime. Specifically, because I feel it is suspect since it states, "Texas appeared to fare worst in 1999, with crime on the increase in 12 of its 26 cities included in the report." (CNN) In an election year, why else would such a report be released and single out the state of Texas, except to discredit the Republican Presidential Candidate, George W. Bush. But such scrutiny on my part goes beyond this essay and I will have to leave it for another day.
     So, to get back to the issue at hand, I believe if we are able to resolve the first part of the gun problem, in most respects, it will directly influence and effect the second part of the problem--children willing to harm themselves and others with guns. If they don't have the guns, they can't use them against others or themselves. Although keeping the guns out of our children's hands could diminish the second part of the problem, doing so does not completely eliminate school violence.  But the sort of school violence I'm referring to is fist fights, something that has been happening long before gun violence ever made its way into our classrooms. We should however, understand such school-ground violence will occur. And though I don't suggest we accept this type of violence in our schools, we should not overreact when it does occur, and we should be prepared to firmly handle such violence and understand that such venting is natural and is better than the alternative. That is to say, a boiling kettle will explode if it doesn't blow a little steam. And I believe adolescent boys (and girls) need to blow a little steam from time to time to keep from exploding. And I suppose, this could be true for adults as well.

    To conclude, I'd like to say having lived in Japan for sixteen years, I believe I understand why this country is known for its safety. I won't deny Japan has similar crimes and problems that America faces, but crimes here are not so widespread, nor are they anywhere near the scale of terror as in America. I attribute this to the Japanese culture and people. It seems they approach child disobedience differently than we Americans, and it seems to work very well.
    Up to the age of five, a Japanese children are able to do whatever they wants. But once they turn five, they are held accountable for their actions and are taught to respect other people and other people's property. This begins from their first days of school and continues on through their adolescence and on into their adulthood, as well as, into their careers and occupations.
    Respect for others is a part of the Japanese language, it is a part of their culture, and it is a part of their way of life. Disgracing one's family and/or company is the ultimate dishonor a Japanese person can do. I believe we Americans can learn a valuable lesson from the Japanese. We should teach our children at an early age to be respectful of others, and we should hold them accountable for their actions. To me, these are missing components in our society today, and the lack thereof may be the underlying cause for many of the problems we face today, particularly with our children. Respect is key, both for oneself and for others. Without respect, I feel civil disobedience and lack of individual restraint are the resulting consequences to a society, and the likely root to its demise.

 Works Cited:

         CNN. "Serious crime shows eight-year decline, says FBI." Cable Network News. 2000. Online. Available: http://www.cnn.com/2000/US/05/07/fbi.crime/. 9 May 2000.

         Cooperman, J. "Kids Can Easily Get Guns." ABCNEWS. 1998. Online. Available: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/kidsguns1204.html. 6 May 2000.

         Fezell, H. "A Practicing Attorney's Look at the Second Amendment." Howard J. Fezell. 2000. Online. Available: http://www.2ndamendment.net/2amd3.html. 17 May 2000.

         Jasper, W. "When Will We Learn? Guns in the Right Hands Save Lives!" American Opinion Publishing Incorporated. 2000. Online. Available: http://www.thenewamerican.com/tna/1999/06-07-99/vo15no12_learn.htm. 18 May 2000.

         Quinn, J. "Australian Gun Control Update." War Room. 2000. Online. Available: http://www.warroom.com/ausguncontrol.htm. 10 May 2000.

         Wouters, J. "Light at the End of a Muzzle." ABCNEWS. 1998. Online. Available: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/guns/guns_solutions.html. 6 May 2000.

Article Source:
"Gun Ban Results in Tragic Death" come from The Warroom, and can be found at: http://www.warroom.com/gunban.htm.