Two Views on School Shootings
From Community View, from the Journal News, Rockland County, NY, Mar 15, 2001
Address the Shootings in our Schools
by Adam Zimmerman
Somewhere, they are smiling. Those two boys ar really smiling. Because once again, the have "won".
They "won" March 5 when 15-year old Charles Andrew Williams, known as Andy to his peers and an accused killer to the rest of the nation, allegedly decided he was going to put an end to the teasing and name-calling that he endured every day. So, he put an end to the lives of 17-year-old Randy Gordon and 14-year-old Bryan Zuckor in the boys' bathroom of a high school in California.
They "won" when it was discovered that Andy Williams told three friends and an adult over the weekend that he was planning on blowing people's brains out at school. The comments were serious enough that friends of Williams searched him at school on the Monday, yet not one reported it to the authorities.
When the doors to Santana High School reopened after the shooting, those three friends with whom Andy "joked" about his killing plans weren't there. Authorities told them not to come, since the school district is contemplating taking action against them for not reporting Williams' statements. How dare they keep their mouths closed?
Finally, the dead boys "won" when law enforcement officials determined that the .22-caliber revolver used by Williams for the shootings was kept in his house. Supposedly, it was kept under lock by his father, but the key must not have been very far away. After a search of Williams' home, seven additional long-barrel guns were found. Sure is fortunate for Williams that his house was a veritable shrine to the National Rifle Association.
How fortunate, he must have thought, that we're allowed to keep and bear arms. After all, people might get hurt if we take the guns off the streets. Chalk another one up for Klebold and Harris. That's Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, the most vicious one-two, school-shooting punch we've ever encountered. Remember Columbine?
Save for the families who lost their children, I'm not so sure we do. Sure, most of us could accurately tell the story of what went down in Littleton, Colo., almost two years ago. Apparently, though, it's not enough for us to merely retell the story. It seems we must re-live it as well, over and over and over again.
What's it going to take, America? How many more kids will have to die before we start doing something about it? How many deaths will it take for kids to understand that sometimes you're a life-saver when you're a tattle-tale?
How many more victims' shrines will we have to see before every school in America installs metal detectors and offers anger-management classes? How many more tears will moms and dads and brothers and sisters and millions of strangers have to shed before we understand that guns really do kill people?
How many more memorial services will we have to attend before we bury the Second Amendment so we don't have to bury kids?
"When one person dies, it's a tragedy. When a million people die, it's a statistic". How right Josef Stalin was. It's a pathetic sign when numbness and indifference are directly proportional to the amount of kids who are being gunned down in school shootings, but that is the situation with which we are now confronted.
When should we start reversing the trend? Two years ago, Randy Gordon was a star on Santana High School's track team. He was a politics aficionado and dreamed of serving his country proudly in the U.S. Navy. Bryan Zuckor was a skateboard fan and basketball player who was helping his mother raise his two younger siblings. Say a prayer for them and their families tonight.
Tomorrow, start doing something about all the other Randy Gordons and Bryan Zuckors in the world.
The writer is a college student and a graduate of
Clarkstown High School North.
Community View, from the Journal News, Rockland County, NY, Mar 25, 2001
Address 'Solution' to School Shootings
by Paul Gallant and Joanne Eisen
The title of Adam Zimmerman's recent Community View, "Address the Shootings in our Schools", couldn't have been more apropos. Unfortunately, few in America are willing to do that - including Adam.
As always, it's blame the gun! Blame the NRA! Blame the Second Amendment! And this time, a new one: blame "bullying". Rarely is it "blame the laws which have made our schools a safe haven for criminals", providing an endless supply of defenseless victims. Rarely is it "blame the media" for the undeserved publicity showered upon the perpetrators, encouraging copycat acts and frightening the public about guns.
Well, here are some questions for Adam to answer. Why didn't school shootings like these happen 10 years ago, when guns were far more available and gun laws far less restrictive? How could such an incident occur in California, where gun laws designed to prevent such tragedies (at least, Californians were promised that) are among the toughest in the nation? Why has violent crime - especially handgun-related crime - skyrocketed in "civilized", "gun-free" Great Britain, where handguns are banned, and the possession and use of long guns is severely restricted? With British subjects supposedly disarmed, why do bobbies suddenly find the need to carry firearms?
If Adam looked at the history of what he proposes - "burying the Second Amendment so we don't have to bury kids" - he would find that a strong Second Amendment is the only way to protect our children. The most exhaustive research on mass public shootings comes from Drs. John Lott and William Landes. Noting that "few events obtain the same instant worldwide news coverage as multiple victim public shootings", they pointed out that "the most common suggestion for reducing [them]...calls for greater regulation of guns." But in examining data between 1977 and 1995, Lott and Landes found that deaths and injuries from mass public shootings - like Santee and Columbine - fall dramatically after handgun restrictions are reduced.
The carnage wrought in America's school shootings is a direct result of laws which weaken "the right to keep and bear Arms". The proven, "common-sense" antidote is to repeal restrictive gun laws, not enact new ones.
Almost 30 years ago, former Chief Inspector of British Police Colin Greenwood observed: "[If the question is] 'How can we stop criminals from obtaining firearms?' From the evidence so far supplied, the answer appears to be that we cannot...Criminals have proved to us that firearms controls will not deny their small class of people access to firearms whenever they want them...Half a century of strict controls on pistols has ended, perversely, with a far greater use of this class of weapon in crime than ever before...one is forced to the rather startling conclusion that the use of firearms in crime was very much less when there were no controls of any sort and when anyone, convicted criminal or lunatic, could buy any type of firearm without restriction."
Times change, but human nature doesn't. If Adam Zimmerman really wants to stop the violence, he ought to study the science instead of the propaganda.
Paul Gallant, a Wesley Hills optometrist, and Joanne Eisen, a dentist, are Research Associates at the Independence Institute, a free-market think-tank.