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It seems lately that the entire country’s mentality lacks a certain amount of common sense. We’re all aware on the increased incidents of senseless shootings in businesses, other public places, and within our schools. Right away it seems that the only response you ever hear anyone offer is “gun control”. As if there were no controls already. This same mentality practiced in medicine would indicate amputation of one’s foot as treatment for an ingrown toenail. Common sense says that it’s not the act itself that needs treating, but the REASON that a child would ever think of such an act, and even worse actually carry it out! The problem is NOT with guns. The true problem is to be found when we start facing up to whatever is influencing the mindset of our children and society. Controlling guns is nothing more than putting a band-aid on a hemorrhaging sword wound in our heart, giving us two aspirin and saying we’ll be OK in the morning!

I fault our news media for their trend toward emphasizing the sensational, looking for a quick solution, and then forgetting to give equal attention to finding out if the solutions are actually solutions or whitewash. Everyone knows about the shooting incident at the Columbine High School. There was extensive coverage about it for weeks on all media. Yet, how much attention did the media give to Darrell Scott, parent to one of the Columbine victims, when by invitation, he addressed a House Judiciary subcommittee regarding the incident. In his address, he made some very straight-forward and common sense statements and observations.

The following is a portion of his statement:

"We all contain the seeds of kindness or the seeds of violence. The death of my wonderful daughter, Rachel Joy Scott, and the deaths of that heroic teacher, and the other eleven children who died must not be in vain. Their blood cries out for answers.

The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother Abel out in the field. The villain was not the club he used. Neither was it the NCA, The National Club Association. The true killer was Cain, and the reason for the murder could only be found in Cain's heart. "In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or defend the NRA because I don't believe that they are responsible for my daughter's death. Therefore I do not believe that they need to be defended. If I believed they had anything to do with Rachel's murder I would be their strongest opponent.

I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy - it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies! Much of the blame lies here in this room. Much of the blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves. "I wrote a poem just four nights ago that expresses my feelings best. This was written way before I knew I would be speaking here today.

"Your laws ignore our deepest needs. Your words are empty air.

You've stripped away our heritage. You've outlawed simple prayer.

Now gunshots fill our classrooms and precious children die.

You seek for answers everywhere and ask the question 'Why'.

You regulate restrictive laws through legislative creed

And yet you fail to understand, That God is what we need!"

"Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, soul, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our makeup, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and reek havoc. Spiritual influences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation's history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact. What has happened to us as a nation? "We have refused to honor God, and in doing so, we open the doors to hatred and violence. And when something as terrible as Columbine's tragedy occurs politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that contribute to erode away our personal and private liberties.

"We do not need more restrictive laws. Eric and Dylan would not have been stopped by metal detectors. No amount of gun laws can stop someone who spends months planning this type of massacre. The real villain lies within our own hearts. Political posturing and restrictive legislation are not the answers. The young people of our nation hold the key.

There is a spiritual awakening taking place that will not be squelched! We do not need more religion. We do not need more gaudy television evangelists spewing out verbal religious garbage. We do not need more million dollar church buildings built while people with basic needs are being ignored. We do need a change of heart and a humble acknowledgment that this nation was founded on the principle of simple trust in God! "As my son Craig lay under that table in the school library and saw his two friends murdered before his very eyes He did not hesitate to pray in school. I defy any law or politician to deny him that right! I challenge every young person in America, and around the world, to realize that on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School - prayer was brought back to our schools."

"Do not let the many prayers offered by those students be in vain. Dare to move into the new millennium with a sacred disregard for legislation that violates your God - given right to communicate with Him. To those of you who would point your finger at the NRA - I give to you a sincere challenge. Dare to examine your own heart before casting the first stone!”

If you were to ask the Washington bureaucrats if they are listening they will most certainly tell you that they are. People who are losing their hearing actually listen more intently than those with normal hearing. Yet like our elected legislators in Washington, they still don’t actually HEAR what is being said. Here’s another wonderful example of truth and common sense written by Joyce Minor while serving as Assistant Director of Development and Alumni Relations, University of Alabama School of Law.

"I grew up in rural America in the '50's and '60's. On any given day, you could walk through the high school parking lot and observe that half the vehicles parked there were trucks with windows rolled down and doors unlocked. Most of them carried, as standard equipment, an FFA sticker

(Future Farmers of America for you city folk) and a gun rack with at least one gun, usually loaded. You could make the same observation at any of the four high school campuses in our county. Amazingly, I do not ever recall reading or hearing about mass shootings in any of those high schools.

What has changed in America is not the accessibility of guns, but the character of man. On the wall in my parents home is a plaque awarded to my father in recognition of service for 27 years on the local school board. He told me that for years, a standard requirement on every Teacher's contract was membership in a local church. I remember starting every school day with the pledge and a prayer. I remember when girls who got pregnant in high school were ashamed, when abortions were illegal, when the divorce rate was not 50% because couples stayed together for the kid's sake, when there were no X-rated movies, when milk cartons didn't have missing kids faces on them and I didn't know anyone personally who used drugs. I remember when kids were taught respect for authority and accountability to God. I hear people say that the good old days weren't always so good but please don't tell me you think these are better.

Last night I attended a high school football game that was covered by local and national news. The news coverage was not about the football teams, but about the defiance of a court order by one brave little Texas town to preserve the right to pray before a football game. The more this country struggles to free itself from religion, the more we become entangled in the consequences. If people are taught that they came from slime, the obvious questions and consequences must follow; What is the purpose of my existence [hopelessness], who made you the boss of me [lawlessness], why are your rules good and mine bad [relativism], what does it matter how I live if I came from slime and return to slime [immorality and inhumanity]? I realize that in any given poll, the vast majority of Americans claim to believe in God. I claim to believe that running is good for me but that does not make me a runner. Putting on my running shoes and running makes me a runner. The climbing abortion rate, murder rate, divorce rate, alcoholism and drug abuse rate, child and spousal abuse rate contradict that claim and prove that actions speak louder than words.

It is an observable truth that the best time you will ever make on any American City freeway is on Sunday morning because there are no traffic jams getting to church. For those who believe that separation of church and state is not enough, that the world would be better off with no church at all, ask yourself this question. How many hospitals, universities, orphanages, homeless and abuse shelters have been founded by the ACLU, NAACP, or American Atheist Society? It is the inclusion of the word Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, Christian, etc., in the name of so many of these institutions that proves by actions, not just words, who really cares for the suffering of mankind and desires to make the world better.

The question that people should be asking is not 'Why does God allow tragedies?' but 'When will we realize that no nation, in the history of the world, has ever separated itself from God and evolved to a better society?' Of course, to answer, you would have to know history. Most people, it would seem, prefer Enquirer magazine."

Following several other school shooting incidents, one of the major television networks did a program using hidden cameras that showed high school aged young men responding to a situation wherein they unexpectedly find a real gun. It showed how they played with the gun, some even decided to take the gun, one pointed the gun at a friend, etc. Although these kids had been instructed by police in an earlier school meeting about the dangers of guns and that they should be reported to adults, in almost every case, fascination overruled or at least delayed the reporting. Again, the media’s desire to alarm, “cry wolf”, and keep the viewer on the edge of their seat while sensationalizing a problem, closed the show without making any offer of a solution or a consultation with any of the millions of safe and recreational gun owners in America.

Simply telling kids, especially boys, that guns are dangerous is telling them the obvious. The kids used in the network “experiment” had never themselves been exposed to handling handguns under supervision or been trained in gun safety and respect. None had ever been allowed to fire any types of weapon and experience, first hand, such a weapon’s power and potential to cause major harm and even death. We have to understand that these kids have been seeing handguns used and even glorified in movies and television shows. They know they are dangerous. They know they can kill. They also know from the Hollywood portrayal that having a gun in one’s hand is ultimate power and control. They know that it can be the ultimate balance of power between the small and the large, the weak and the strong. Yet they have never actually experienced one personally. Why is everyone so amazed then that their first actual opportunity and confrontation results in curiosity and fascination overpowering any good reasoning?

As we go through life learning things, the best scenario is when an adult or mentor, teaches you about something, let’s you experience it with their guidance and then places their trust in you by letting you then use and apply what was taught in a responsible manner. (I still remember Mr. Smith, my first boss, and the lessons I learned under his wing.) Properly taught, the student is then under a tremendous burden to uphold the trust bestowed upon him and act in a responsible manner. In many cases, just the simple fact that they have had actual experience with the situation, de-mystifies it to the point, that fascination and curiosity won’t overrule the lesson.

The first time my father learned of my stealing liquor from his stock, he said that if I were going to drink, fine. However, he expected me to drink like a man, know when to stop and that he had better NEVER find me drunk. (He also told me never to put water back in the bottles to replace what I took. I realized later those instructions were only to preserve the remaining contents from ruin.) Nevertheless, it took quite an edge off my drinking. It didn’t stop me from drinking, but there were times that I became the caretaker for a bunch of drunk friends and often kept us from getting into too much trouble.

My father had guns, but never taught me anything about them. Yes, I had a BB gun as a child and he taught me how to aim and shoot it, but in later years he never let me graduate to the “real” thing. So, many times between the ages of 13 to 18, I “played” with his guns. I took them to friend’s houses. I took them to school. I took them out in the woods and shot them. These included high-powered rifles and hand guns as big as .45 caliber. We’re talking “serious” guns!

It was only by the grace of God that I did not accidentally shoot one of my friends, or them me. On two occasions, I had a handgun discharge unexpectedly while “playing” with it. Once I narrowly missed a friend standing next to me and the other time I was totally alone sitting in our living room and blew a hole in the wall. Neither of my parents ever knew. (I learned how to patch a hole in the wall from this experience too.) Years later, my younger brother shot a hole in the wall “playing” with one of my father’s guns! Today, we both own, collect, shoot, and often carry a firearm. We both respect and know gun safety. Unfortunately, we did not learn it at home and were both lucky to survive.

When the military draft was active, every young male physically and mentally fit, went through military training, which included the use of firearms. At the same time, firearms, including handguns, were more readily available than they are today. Yet, per capita, there were fewer violent crimes using firearms than there are today. Is there anything to be learned here?

The common sense point being, that if you are going to have guns around your house, secure them from general public access. If you have children, take the time, EARLY, to introduce them to guns and their danger. Let them see firearms being shot, let them shoot if they want, and tell them that anytime they want to go shooting you’ll be available to go and teach them. The privilege of gun ownership and the enjoyment of mastering its use, does not come without responsibility and a need for proper training. The best protection against the accidental misuse of firearms is early training. When a firearm is misused to commit a crime the problem goes far deeper than firearm training. However, people taught proper respect for firearms and who are experienced with firearms will inherently misuse them the least…including criminal misuse.

Simply put, GUNS are not the problem! The problem is with the PERSON using the gun. The law enforcement people have no fear of today’s legal gun owners whatsoever. There are already enough laws on the books that are designed to keep guns from criminals. The problem being, these already existing laws are not being enforced on the level necessary. The anti-gun lobby has spent a lot of money throwing out false and misleading statistics about guns. Before you believe any of the anti-gun folks, simple ask any NRA member or law enforcement officer. If you like statistics, try these on for size:

Number of physicians in the US = 700,000

Accidental deaths caused by physicians per year = 120,000

Accidental deaths per physician = 0.171

(U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services)

Number of gun owners in the US = 70,000,000

Number of accidental gun deaths per year (all age groups) = 1,500

Accidental deaths per gun owner = 0.0000214

(U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms)

This makes doctors approximately 8,000 times more dangerous than gun owners. I read where certain medical circles were trying to argue that the death figures indicated above regarding medical errors were incorrect. They claim that the figures are wrong regarding the number life threatening errors made because many of the patients that died would have died anyway. With that reasoning position I guess they would also argue it’s not murder to shoot critically ill patients.

Another example of the lack of common sense among government and various government officials when it comes to guns would be the zero tolerance position they have adopted on anything they can’t seem to deal with in a reasonable manner. Drugs and weapons at school being one such area. Zero tolerance was a phrase initially coined by those fighting the “drug war”. Such cute, easy to remember, phrases are designed to help promote recognition of a problem, solicit support in dealing with drugs and hopefully scare drug dealers away from doing what they do. But Zero Tolerance” should not get translated into “Zero Intelligence”! When a school suspends a student for giving an aspirin to a friend; or an honor student is suspended for having a kitchen knife laying on the floor of her locked car, when that knife had fallen from boxes during a family move for which the child was not even aware of its presence, there is obviously no common sense being applied. How about suspending a child for pointing a chicken leg at a fellow student and saying “bang”? Not only does this show no common sense, it seems to show a lack of any sense at all! Such approaches are NOT solutions to the problem. They are a refusal to make any consorted effort to responsibly address the issues by simply putting on blinders. It is basically turning your back on a situation and often times fabricating and creating problems, where none may have actually existed.

The son of a doctor in Eufaula, Alabama was suspended from school, penalized with 45-days or “alternative school” in the next academic year, which bars him from athletic and other extracurricular activities, may result in his removal from the National Honor Society and may even preclude him being accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy. All this punishment because a pocket knife and metal scraper were found in his car, left there by his father when he re-attached his son’s rear view mirror to the windshield. (Documentation of this incident was at one time available on the Internet at www.ztnightmares.com)

If you are looking for an example of cruel and unusual punishment not befitting the crime, do you need to look any further? Is having a pocket knife in your car a crime? Was there any trial before punishment was given? There certainly wasn’t any common sense on the part of authorities.

If some student has it in his mind to take a gun to school for the purpose of extracting some sick, possibly Hollywood motivated or glorified revenge, against a teacher or fellow student, does anyone think that he’s going to hesitate because there’s a zero tolerance policy in force that will get him suspended for the taking the weapon at school? Does ANYONE see that the problem goes further than hiding behind the blinders of some ill administered zero tolerance policy? The CHILD has a serious problem that is not going to be solved by making rules that in reality have no bearing whatsoever on his problem! Would passing a law against dying give eternal life? Maybe it would if we made dying a capital offense? The last two make about as much sense as the way we have reacted to the problems our children are having in their lives and schools.

Finally, the media very seldom, if ever, gives all the facts about guns, the right to carry, and the number of crimes foiled or prevented by the millions of law abiding gun owners. They publish primarily the crimes committed. They seem to forget that in many of these public mass shootings, had there been a legally licensed gun carrying citizen among the victims or those present, that the threat and deaths might have been ended earlier and lives actually been saved.

A shooting spree in a law school, where three people were shot to death ended when another student retrieved a pistol from his vehicle and confronted the shooter. Turns out the student who brought this incident to a quick close was a former police officer, but it could just as easily have been any legally licensed gun carrying citizen or student.

The media will tell you about hundreds of women who have been killed by their estranged husbands in spite of multiple restraining orders having been issued and sometimes the attackers even having been sentenced to jail time for previous attacks.

What you don’t hear much about are the attacks that were ended because the intended victim was armed with a gun. Some ended without having to fire a shot and some ended with the attacker becoming the victim of their bitterness. But in these cases they ended in favor of the intended victim.