Fix “The Problem” or at least a problem

(A response to “Safe Spaces, Toxic Masculinity and Guns” in Manward)

First of all, “The Problem” didn’t stem from any one thing, and isn’t going to get fixed with any one thing. So, let’s talk about a step to fix a problem. Since we’re mentioning Las Vegas and safe spaces, an obvious problem is guns.

Trivia for you: What do the Boys Scouts and the National Rifle Association have in common?

Answer: They were both founded by war veterans who were disgusted with the shooting ability of soldiers: the NRA by Union veterans after the Civil War, and the Boys Scouts after the Spanish-American War. The logic being, the US Army can’t afford the time necessary to make up for a lack of gun experience prior to entering service.

Now, in a like vein, we have the NYPD having the heaviest trigger-pulls among American police departments. Why? Because they’ve got the highest rate of accidental discharge. Coincidentally, New York has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the U.S. Like the military, police academies have too many other things to teach recruits to spend time overcoming a lack of prior experience in handling guns.  So there’s a little tidbit that rarely finds its way into gun-control discussions: If you live in a gun-restrictive state, you’re more likely to get accidentally shot by a cop.

Then we also have the argument that children are exposed to gaming and Hollywood violence and become desensitized to violence. There’s a flip side to this: Gun-phobics who are only exposed to guns through Hollywood and gaming develop an exaggerated idea of what guns are capable of. You can see this in the resistance to allowing muzzle suppressors (erroneously referred to as “silencers”) for civilian use. Hollywood has taught them that “silencers” reduce the sound of a gunshot to undetectable/unrecognizable levels, enabling murderers to shoot victims without bystanders being the wiser. In truth, they just save everyone around the gun the hassle of having to wear earmuffs to preserve their hearing (something to keep in mind if you’re in a public area and someone near you draws their gun in self-defense).

The solution to both of these problems is to create a basic familiarity with firearms before the age of majority. Yes, I’m advocating not only putting guns in schools, but (under controlled conditions, of course) in the hands of students. Most of the training can be done with air rifles (a.k.a. “BB guns”), which can be safely handled and fired with a few additions to the gymnasium for a firing range. Students could be exposed to actual firearms in a traveling range that could be designed into a semi-trailer. (No, that’s not a targeting challenge, but the idea would be to understand how the gun behaves–marksmanship could be learned with the air rifles.)

A few years of this, and we’ll have a society that actually understands what guns can–and more importantly can’t–do, a good deal of this common nonsense about guns will disappear, and we’ll be able to focus on where the real problems lie.

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