All in Fun? or Gun! Gun! Gun!

Hey! Wanna see somethin’ cool? Shhh…

What if a schoolmate beckoned your child to a corner of the classroom, smiled conspiratorially, and offered a peek at a prized item inside a Spiderman backpack? What if the prized item was a 9 mm. semi-automatic pistol? Very possibly loaded. And, at that moment, in the hands of a 10-year-old?

Would your child, in a combination of awe, envy, and admiration, gush in hushed tones, “Wow! Where’d you get that!” Would they ask to hold it? Just one time? For a second?

Or would they recognize the danger staring them in the face and run away, yelling to inform all others nearby, “Gun! Gun! Gun!”

I’ve read too many news stories about kids bringing guns to school. The fact that there are parents who care so little about their own children (not to mention other people’s) as to allow them to get their young hands on a deadly weapon–much less bring it to school to show off–disturbs me greatly.

But what I find even more alarming is the stance so many schools take on the issue of guns: a head-in-the-sand, don’t-talk-about-it policy. In these days of “zero tolerance,” schools like to think they’re being proactive by passing such rules as, “No talking about guns in class; no writing stories in which a gun is used; no play-‘shooting’ your friend who’s pretending to be an evil space alien at recess.”

An acquaintance of mine is a first-grade teacher. Rolling her eyes at the futility of her school’s policy, she told me, “We’re not even allowed to put the word ‘gun’ on our spelling lists! We have to make believe it doesn’t exist. How does that help the kids if there’s trouble?”

Good question. What these schools refuse to acknowledge is that none of the above-mentioned rules actually prevents someone from carrying a gun into a school. So, my answer to this extremely serious issue is to prepare kids for the situation, should it occur. Teach them how to use the tools they have to make smart choices, so they can keep themselves safe.

In this case, those tools are their legs, to run away, and their voices to yell, “Gun! Gun! Gun!” to alert trusted adults who can help. Then, give them the permission to do it, and the practice–to know they can.

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