Arkansas shootings should be a wakeup call for parents, not anti-gun activists | SierraSun.com
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Arkansas shootings should be a wakeup call for parents, not anti-gun activists

John A. Bayless

The tragedy in Arkansas has stirred the feelings of the nation and talking heads on television are expressing shock, horror, outrage and disbelief that young children could have plotted and carried out the multiple murders of their classmates.

It should really come as no surprise. The video entertainment industry commonly presents violence as a way to solve problems, and heroes on film frequently blast their way out of trouble. Despite the huge body count in films such as “Die Hard,” or “Last Man Standing,” the heroes never face the consequences of their actions. Viewers never see in detail the emotional torment and grueling paper work a police officer faces in real life after killing a suspect in self defense. They never face the sorrow of families who have lost a loved one.

Children may carry one message away from such movies: Good guys always live, and they solve their problems by killing all the bad guys. Who can say which people will become “bad guys” in a child’s world?

That type of movie is fine – for adults who already have a clear grasp of right or wrong. But it is a parent’s responsibility to see that children’s moral standards and decision-making processes are based in reality, not on the movies. In the end, everything is a matter of personal responsibility and all actions hinge on personal choice. Laws passed by local, state or federal government will have no effect should a person choose to commit an illegal action.

The national media have made much of the fact that it was legal in Arkansas for such young children to be in possession of the rifles they used in the shooting. However, it was definitely illegal for them to shoot people with those same weapons. Would another law have prevented them from carrying out their plan? I doubt it. It was also illegal for them to steal the guns, allegedly steal the van they used to hold the guns, and illegal for them to drive the vehicle. Those laws didn’t prevent the massacre.

Anti-gun furor was initially muted following the shooting, but Sen. Dianne Feinstein ended the brief silence before I could publish my column, forcing revisions. She and other Democrats who refuse to hold individuals responsible for their actions have now proposed a complete ban on the sale and import of high-capacity magazines, strengthening an unnecessary measure passed by Congress in 1994.

Expect liberal legislators to shout and froth at the mouth on television, show pictures of evil-looking, black “assault” rifles (none of which were used in the shooting), and say guns are the reason for all of America’s woes. It’s a show we’ve all seen before, as they try to shift blame from the perpetrator to the weapon used in the crime. Of course, Feinstein led the charge in the photo op. She’s already posed for pictures with an AK-47, a communist-bloc weapon which has been banned from import since 1992 – and was not one of the weapons used in the Jonesboro shooting.

According to initial media reports, the firearms used in the shooting were a .30-06 rifle and a .44 magnum rifle, both of which are hunting firearms. Feinstein now reportedly says one of the weapons used was a Universal Carbine, a replica of a United States rifle made during World War II and the Korean Conflict. The U.S. carbine, a small rifle, was usually issued with a 15-round magazine, and fires a .30-caliber round, which is only a little more powerful than a pistol round. Of course, a photo with a tiny carbine was not menacing enough, so she posed with an AK-47, which is a much larger and more powerful weapon. The AK pictured also has two large, 30-round banana clip magazines, much more photogenic than one tiny 15-round carbine magazine, which is less than one quarter the size of the AK magazine.

Countless military surplus carbine magazines are already in warehouses in the U.S., and it’s doubtful a ban on the sale and importation of this particular magazine would have any impact on the supply. But of course her agenda is not limited to carbine magazines. Seeking to score political points for the anti-gun cause from the tragedy, Feinstein proposed a ban on the sale of all high-capacity magazines.

It’s a sad game. Imagine the strategy sessions with advisers as Feinstein considered how long to wait before using the mass murder to advance her cause.

Fortunately, it doesn’t look like she has much support in her crusade against gun-owners’ remaining liberties. Republicans, elected in a majority to both House and Senate end such foolishness, seem disinclined to follow her lead.

Two words: Individual responsibility. People choose their own fate and actions. No rifle magazine, a simple piece of folded metal and a spring, leapt up, took these children by their hands and walked them through the process in which they allegedly stole guns, allegedly stole a van and gunned down their classmates.

Parents bear a heavier burden of responsibility than most, because they are responsible for teaching their children the difference between right and wrong. If they are not up to the responsibility of raising children, perhaps they should not be parents.

Some parents choose not to raise their children, and abdicate their upbringing to television or to the streets. A criminal chooses to commit a crime in violation of the law. Each of these people is responsible for their own actions – not society and not the tools used to commit a crime.

If a criminal burns down a house or runs down pedestrians with a vehicle, there’s no outcry to ban cars, or ban fire. With guns, it should be no different. In their proper place – used for target shooting, hunting, competition or self defense, guns are a proper, integral and historic part of American society.

Sierra Sun E-mail: sun@tahoe.com

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