In a national discourse overrun with disturbing stories about gun violence and its repercussions, a small yet atypically positive report emerged from Suffolk, Va. The school board decided to revise its “Zero Tolerance” policy after two students were suspended for pretending pencils were guns.
The two 7-year-old elementary students faced their suspensions last month for pointing their pencils and making gun noises. The school board has mitigated its policy to include a school administrator’s judgment on intent, in order to stop paranoid abuses of power from happening without discretion in future. This is an undoubtedly small victory, but, in recognizing, rationale here that is decidedly lacking in this hot button issue, it is not insignificant.
Common sense thinking should prevail in American communities. It seems the issue of guns will bring out the most political ideologues on both sides, and logic is often dismissed. Whether the gun enthusiasts are denying any measure to mitigate the rapid flow of guns into the open marketplace, or gun violence opponents are reacting to child’s play with misplaced sensitivity, it seems guns can lead our logical perceptions astray faster than any other issue. To be fair, if there is anything worth of arousing paranoia, surely weaponry and self defense are.
Journalists like Chris Hayes have made it their business to point out just how much more gun deaths there are than terrorism deaths. Countless other conservative homeowners — and the often progressive Bill Maher, surprisingly — point to crime statistics to underscore the necessity of their lawful gun ownership. This is where the crux of the discourse on guns lies. The trappings of a paranoid argument will undoubtedly result in blame mongering.
Joe Lieberman, NRA President Wayne LaPierre and others blame violent media and video games. As a gamer and violent movie watcher, I find it ridiculous to broach the subject with any desire for change. Yes, it is worthy to note that many violent killers, like school shooters like Seung-Hui Cho and Adam Lanza had violent tastes in video games and movies. And, binging on violent images in general cannot have a positive affect on the human psyche. However, there is simply no way to stop violence from making its way into entertainment, and, subsequently, the media diets of anyone who is amused by it. Blaming games and movies for gun deaths is like blaming pornography for rape, it is simply moot.
Even the politically active victims of gun violence, who often move through the ins and outs of this issue with a dignity that betrays their inherent anger, sometimes lead the conversation astray. For instance, Erica Lafferty, daughter of Sandy Hook Elementary’s deceased principal, confronted Senator Kelly Ayotte over her decision to vote against background checks. Her grieving outbursts, warranted as they were, had no objective positive affect.
Indeed, embarrassing an opponent of sensible gun regulation will fire up a political base, but, this moment was a “gotcha” moment and really will not make the other side sympathize, and that should be an essential goal in all hot button issues. That was the logic at play in Suffolk, Va., and that is how all parties should act, for the good of American safety.