I’m a gun owner who believes there’s a way to think about gun safety that protects second amendment rights without forcing Americans to give up the domestic tranquility as promised in the Preamble to the Constitution.
Arming school teachers is not the answer.
When I taught writing in Vermont prisons, I had to leave everything but my keys and teaching materials in my car. I then had to hand over my keys and pass through a metal detector and a sally port before arriving at my classroom. The white cinderblock room mirrored the blank page, and the students filled it with their stories.
A short time later, I visited my local elementary school and was shocked to find the front door locked. But I read the small print, rang the bell, and the administrative assistant buzzed me in. Inside, the school hallways were filled with colorful student art; the classrooms with enthusiastic young learners.
I forgot about the locked door until a child needed to use the restroom while we were outside studying garden soil. The teacher had to walk the student to the building’s back door and unlock it.
I thought it was unbearably sad that these school children were subjected to locked doors not so very different from those I had found in prison.
Guns, not children, should be locked up.
I don’t think we need to ban civilian ownership of guns in the United States. But I do think we need laws promoting public safety much the same way we have laws governing the ownership and use of motor vehicles.
In my life, I’ve both inherited a car and bought one in a private sale. I had to register both with the state, and I needed both a valid driver’s license and state mandated insurance.
So I think it points to a gaping hole in our public safety net that I could inherit a rifle and buy another in a private sale, without having to register or insure them – or even demonstrate my ability to handle a firearm.
I don’t know if civilians are allowed to own military combat vehicles, but I’m pretty sure they’d have to register them with the department of motor vehicles if they did.
Personally, I think all military weaponry should be reserved for the military.
And I think it should be possible to establish reasonable licensing standards for gun ownership and registration of non-military guns while preserving our right to bear arms.
Then we could lock up our guns, like we lock up our cars, and let our kids run free.
A version of this essay was broadcast on the stations of Vermont Public Radio on March 5, 2018 and can be heard here. This post is dedicated to the students who are participating in the National School Walkout today.