Part of the difficulty in deciding whether to further restrict the ability of citizens to possess guns of one sort or another stems from the ground on which the conversation is conducted. There are several Americas we are talking about here, each quite distinct in the ways in which it will view the discussion.
There is rural America, where hunting, though diminishing greatly, is still practiced, where rifles and shotguns are routinely stored at home and kids tend to grow up knowing the power of the weapons, and may be taught early on how to be safe with them.
There is suburban America, James Kunstler’s Geography of Nowhere, and the malls that make up a preponderance of social life are filled with sporting goods stores that sell guns of all types, and they are used for what? Property protection? Shooting any sort of guns on your quarter acre plot is usually forbidden, it’s just too close to the neighbors. You can’t get a ZBA variance for it. The kids who grow up there learn about guns from where? Movies? Video games?
And then we have the big cities, where people live very close to one another, and when you hear the mayors talk about it, the only uses for guns are shooting people and committing crimes. Or protecting yourself from people shooting people and committing crimes.
Yes, sure, the descriptions here are pat, stereotypical generalizations. But the point is that there is no common ground on which to discuss the issue of gun control and the rights the second amendment gives us as long as the backgrounds are so different, as long as the truths of each place, so true to each of the discussion’s participants, are so divergent. Gun ownership means something entirely different in the streets of Chicago or Atlanta than it does in rural Idaho or Maine. Unless those differences can be accounted for, the discussions likely go nowhere.
A couple of years ago, when people were feeling safer and the expense was becoming onerous, Onteora schools dispensed with the School Resource Officer — essentially an armed police person at the main campus. Should that officer be returned? Should there be one in each of the schools? In these days of the 2 percent tax cap, it’s difficult enough to squeeze enough education out of the budget. Maybe the plan described in the article that begins on Page 1, of having a state police officer or sheriff’s department member stop at each of the schools each day, but at different times, so as not to establish a pattern, will be sufficient.
We lament the loss of, and long for the days when surveillance cameras and armed officers were not necessary in the schools. There were those days, weren’t there? But there are a lot of people working in the schools now who wouldn’t mind seeing someone there who could protect them in the direst of emergencies…such as those we know can happen.