Thursday, February 12, 2009

Zero Tolerance: Are Our Children Safer?

Or, is it just another brick being laid on this nation's path to total wussification?

Anti-gun hysteria has reached a fever pitch in this country. Someone sees a firearm, or even thinks they do, they promptly panic, frantically dial 911 on their cell phone, and soon all hell breaks lose.

Police are summoned, someone alerts the local media, the S.W.A.T team arrives, the surrounding eight block area is cordoned off, authorities go door-to-door, evacuating those who reside in the area, and police helicopters fill the skies, all because of the reported presence of a firearm.

Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration, but it isn't far off the mark.

Nowhere has this hysterical phenomenon been more apparent than in and around our nation's government schools. Ever since the Columbine incident, and even before, most of our nation's government school districts have had in place all kinds of rules regarding firearms on, or even near, campus. While some of these rules are probably reasonable given the times we live in, the interpretation of those rules has often been anything but.

"Zero Tolerance" has, sadly, become the order of the day. To the average person, this would, on its face, appear to be a reasonable course of action. Problem is, zero tolerance has been taken to the point of lunacy in many of our nation's school systems. It insulates school administrators from having to actually think, and turns them into mindless government robots, while doing little, in my opinion, to make students safer while in school.

One of my "favorite" policies are the "Gun Free Zones" that have sprung up around many school campuses in this country in recent years. In some areas, these zones extend thousands of feet in all directions from the school's property. As I see it, these "zones" have done little more than make our children sitting ducks, as it appears to me they are really open invitations to those who wish to harm our children.

I am sure that some disturbed individual who has it in their mind to go to a school and shoot some students is going to see one of the signs denoting the boundary of such a zone and is going to say, "Aw, shucks," and turn around and go home. Right. That person is probably going to be encouraged to press further, knowing he will have more time to carry out his plan before anyone who is actually armed will show up and put a swift end to the proceedings.

I have read news stories of kids being suspended, even expelled, for having on then harmless items, and even in some cases, mere pictures, related to some sort of weapon or other. I have seen where a kid was suspended from school and threatened with psychological counseling because the kid (gasp!) merely drew a picture that happened to have a gun in it, but was not threatening in any way.

A friend of mine's son here in the Atlanta area was nearly suspended two years ago from his government school merely because he had a key chain that had been made from the empty, spent rifle shell he had saved from the very first deer he ever took while out hunting with his dad.

A recent example of the anti-gun hysteria that is sweeping this nation is the case of 17 year-old Marie Morrow, who was suspended from her Colorado school, and is facing possible expulsion merely for having fake drill team rifles in her vehicle. A couple of students saw them and reported it to the school administrators.

I have no problem with what transpired to this point (although I would be embarrassed if my own children were unable to distinguish between a real rifle and an obvious plastic fake) but what happened next was insanity.

Ms. Morrow is now facing her plight due to a Colorado law that requires this punishment for "violations" of weapons laws on campus. In my opinion, this nonsense should have ended once it was determined that the "rifles" weren't even close to being real.

Now, perhaps it could be argued by some that Ms. Morrow showed a minor lapse in judgment in having those drill team props visible in her vehicle (but to me that would be due more to the paranoid times we now exist in) but does her "transgression" warrant a two-week suspension and possible expulsion? Hardly.

I have seen kids who actually physically assaulted another student get less punishment than this.

Thirty years ago when I was in school, we had kids bringing old and antique (but fully functional) guns to school for show-and-tell, and no one thought anything of it. These ranged anywhere from 19th century muzzle-loading rifles to 1911 A1 .45s, and one for-real Samurai sword a kid's grandfather had brought back from Japan after WW II.

None of those kids ever even thought about using those weapons against another student.

I realize our culture has changed over the last three decades, and we seem to have more than a few kooks running around who are looking to harm children, but are we really doing our kids a favor by teaching them to be so utterly terrified of guns that they go all weak-kneed at the very sight of one?

Are we going to continue to allow school administrators to hide behind their mindless zero-tolerance policies that keep them from actually having to make a decision, or even apply a little common sense, to an event that involves their students?

Are we, perhaps unwittingly, allowing our children to be ingrained with the idea that only government can protect them?

After all, government did such a bang-up job of saving those kids at Columbine, did they not? It seems to me had there been a few adults in that school with access to firearms, and had they been properly trained in their use, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold's bloody rampage could have been ended far sooner. After all, it didn't actually end due to any action on the part of government, but because the two little punks killed themselves.

Just think, while the local government "law enforcement" employees were milling about outside for hours trying to figure what to do, a few people on the inside, properly equipped and trained, could have saved many, if not most of those student's whose lives were taken from them that horrible day.

Or have we become so wussified as a society, and find violence in any form so abhorrent, that we prefer to allow ourselves to be mowed down than to actually do anything to protect ourselves?

Sometimes I wonder.

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When liberty is taken away by force it can be restored by force. When it is relinquished voluntarily by default it can never be recovered. -Dorothy Thompson