Teach kids gun safety

March 27, 2001|By Carmen Amedori

TO SAY THE Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution giving citizens the right to bear arms is responsible for school violence is like blaming Thomas Edison for the lights going out in California.

Sadly, there are daily commentaries that point fingers at guns and law-abiding, responsible gun owners as the cause of what has occurred recently in our nation's classrooms and schoolyards. Erroneous news coverage magnifies a number of widely spread, misdirected conclusions drawn from these incidents.

Among the arguments accompanying that hysteria is that school violence is an epidemic and that easy access to guns is the most significant risk. It is important to note that, according to FBI, school-related shootings have decreased from 50 in 1983 to 16 in 1999.

It's also significant that the Critical Incident Response Group of the FBI notes that more emphasis needs to be placed on understanding adolescent behavior and those at risk.

The FBI's Crime Report states that we need to focus on "understanding adolescent personality development and how extremely important that is when assessing any threat made by someone in that age group. An adolescent's personality is not yet crystallized. It is still developing.

"During adolescence, young people are likely to explore or engage in what others perceive as strange behavior. Adolescents struggle with vulnerability and acceptance, with questions of independence and dependence and with how to deal with authority, among other difficult issues."

Unfortunately, there are those so opposed to preserving the Second Amendment that they dismiss this tragic teen behavior so long as they can blame the gun.

Their heads are so deep in the sand that they refuse to acknowledge and explore other avenues of reason for these inexcusable acts of violence. If anything is to change, the manner in which our childrens' behavior is evaluated first must be modified .

We must not fall prey to the continued demonizing of firearms. The demon is not the gun.

Rather, poor character, deteriorating morals and the value of nothing absorb our youth in bedlam. The time has come to bring gun safety education into the classroom and teach our youth the potential harm that misuse of a firearm can cause.

What's more, the Golden Rule and character education can serve to remind our youth that life is precious. School violence is a cry for help, not a call to disarm.

Carmen Amedori represents the 5th District in the Maryland House of Delegates. She lives in Westminster.

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