How do you stop shootings?
by Matt Coot
President of the United States, leader of the free world, Donald J Trump has declared that teachers should carry concealed guns in an effort to stop school shootings. He has been reported to say that “if you had a teacher who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly.” This sounds pretty straight forward, right? To stop a school shooting, arm the teachers and they can shoot any attacker. Yes, of course, very simple. But hold on, is this really the sensible solution to stop shootings? No. Of course it isn’t.
Here’s a hypothetical situation: young people throughout the world are becoming addicted to their mobile phones to the extent that they are paying more attention to their phones that they are to lessons in school. Teachers are struggling to keep behaviour under control and struggling to get the students to retain information they’re being taught. When they turn to write something on the board at the front of the class, students immediately get their phones out to check their social media notifications. How can this problem be solved? You take away the mobile phones.
Here’s another hypothetical situation: a driver is driving erratically and has an accident crashing into another vehicle. Thankfully nobody was hurt too seriously. The driver who was driving erratically has a breathalyser test and is found to be over the limit. What can we do to make sure that this driver cannot cause a more serious accident in future? You take away the driver’s licence.
Here’s another hypothetical situation: the police arrest someone who has tonnes of inappropriate images of children on a hard-drive. This person goes to prison. When this person is released, what can we do to make sure the habits don’t escalate or repeat? You restrict access that the offender has to children and to computers.
So let’s consider a very simple question: how do we stop shootings from happening? We take away the things that shoot. If there are no guns to shoot, then there are no shootings happening.
Now, I know that it apparently isn’t as simple as this. There’s the issue of access to illegal weaponry. And, of course, the issue of that pesky thing known as the second amendment to the constitution of the United States of America.
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
– The Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America
There has been endless debate over the wording of this amendment to the constitution for as long as it had been written. What does it mean? What does it entitle the people to have? What did the authors of the amendment want to protect when they wrote it? Endless debate over the answers to these questions and more.
It was 15th December 1791 when this amendment was adopted. It was a part of the initial ten amendments, contained in the Bill of Rights, that add specific guarantees of personal rights and freedoms. The second amendment, as can be seen above, guaranteed the “right of the people to keep and bear Arms”. This guarantee was based upon English common law, which was influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689. The English Bill of Rights, along with the Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, the Habeas Corpus Act 1679, and the Parliaments Acts 1911 and 1949, is a part of the uncodified British constitution. Unlike the Constitution of the United States of America, the British constitution is not set out in one document, but rather in many documents and laws. However, bearing in mind that the second amendment, and the other Bill of Rights amendments, is based upon this English Bill of Rights, I feel that we can make comparisons.
On 13th March 1996, Thomas Hamilton walked into Dunblane Primary School carrying four legally held handguns. Hamilton shot thirty-two people, with seventeen of these having fatal wounds. Fifteen of the fatalities were five years old, one was six years old, and the teacher – Gwen Mayor – was 45 years old. Following this school shooting, the government passed the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 and Firearms (Amendment) (no. 2) Act 1997. These acts made it illegal to keep and bear handguns in the UK. In fact, access to firearms is now tightly controlled in the UK and is way more restrictive than the minimum rules of the European Firearms Directive. As a direct cause of this restrictive control over firearms, the UK has one of the lowest rates of gun homicides in the world.
In 1689, the English (although, more specifically, Protestants) were guaranteed rights to keep and bear arms. In 1997, this right was amended and from that point onwards, the UK became a country with one of the lowest rates of gun homicides in the world. How did we stop shootings? We took away the guns.
The United States of America has one of the highest rates of firearm deaths in the world. There are over 101 guns per 100 inhabitants. In other words, there are more guns than people. Is it any wonder that there’s a problem?
So here are two of my suggestions to President Trump:
- Issue an Executive Order to make all law enforcement agencies to have a firearm amnesty for the people to hand over their guns;
- Arrange a new amendment for the constitution that restricts access to firearms;
I know this won’t happen under President Trump. I know this won’t happen under any politician who wants to be re-elected or who has business that could be under threat with these laws. But wouldn’t it be great? Wouldn’t it make America great? Again, I am under no illusion that this will happen, but come on! How is it a solution to stop shootings by adding more guns to the equation?
I used to work in a school. I used to work alongside teachers. Do you know what we all did that job for? It was to educate young people so that they can strive to be the best that they can be. Do you know how difficult it already is in that job? Do you realise the pressure that these teachers are already under? Do you realise the anxiety levels of the students in schools is rising already? Mental health of our young people is already on the rise. Donald Trump thinks it is a good idea to arm the teachers with guns. How is that going to affect these young people who struggle every day with their anxiety issues? How are they going to learn? Mr President, you are wrong. You want to turn teachers into soldiers. You want to turn them into killers. You want to add that to the pressure they are already under. You want to put adults with guns in front of young people. Young people who just want to learn, but are now faced with adults carrying guns. What the hell are you thinking?
There is only one thing that stops people from shooting other people and that is to take away their guns. Without guns, there is no shooting. That is the only thing that will work.
Just to make that a big clearer: