Yes Once again, an evil individual has taken the lives of others. Unfortunately, it happens every day in this country. Some instances seem to draw more attention than others, but each and every one of them is a tragic story in our society.
The recent ones in El Paso and Dayton have yet again riled up many on the left in politics and media, and again an inanimate object and an organization of law-abiding citizens seem to be getting the blame more than the actions of the individuals who actually committed the crimes.
In full disclosure, I am no ordinary member of the National Rifle Association. I am a Benefactor Patriot member, the highest level of membership in the organization. In addition, I was the director of their Texas chapter, the largest in the U.S., for four years. With that, you can probably guess what I think about firearms, ownership rights and the Second Amendment.
I could follow others and write long, detailed articles debating every law currently on the books. Instead, I would prefer to look at the ones that are being proposed. Over time, I plan to break down each of them. However, those who want to discuss the not-so-new proposed laws need to take a step back and make sure any proposed legislation would actually work. In other words, go to the very base of the problem.
First, look around at our society. Our elected officials on both sides of the aisle have gone overboard in recent years in making vile and vicious statements about the other side. These comments, with many in the national media fanning the flames of hatred, have caused even the most common Americans to spew venom across their own social media pages. This goes on every day while our children have been allowed and even encouraged to watch violence in television and movies portraying fellow human beings as pawns and objects to be used as sport and entertainment, only to have life thrown away and the person disposed of when they are no longer needed or wanted.
Violence in video games has gotten so realistic that for some young people their virtual reality becomes their own reality. To escape, they often enter a world of war and theft, where you get higher scores for killing others, ignoring the laws of society and basic humanity.
Those in my generation understood that while it was fun to watch Bugs outsmart Elmer and Sam, those were make-believe cartoons. We knew you really couldn’t tie a shotgun into a knot or watch someone fall from a cliff and walk away looking like a Slinky toy. While we played “army” on the playground of the local elementary schools, we knew that if you really shot someone, the person would not lie on the ground, count to 10, then get back in the game. Instead, we were taught the value of life, along with kindness and respect to others.
To really fix the problems in our society, we have to go back to the basics. We, as a community, cannot place the total responsibility of the raising of our children with our teachers and educators. We, as the parents and leaders of our communities, must teach and lead by example. Encourage discussions, but teach kindness and respect for the lives and opinions of others.
We, as a nation, could ban every firearm and every other type of weapon imaginable, but it would be useless unless we first teach the value of life and the importance of each and every person in our community and in our family. Write all the laws you want, but you cannot legislate love and kindness to others. That comes from within, and that starts at home.
Randy Gibson is the CEO of RDG Communications Group LLC, and the former director of the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce and the Texas State Rifle Association.