Born and bred Mainers, my grandfathers and my father were hunters. While I don’t hunt, I respect the many people I know who do. But hunting doesn’t require high-powered, high-capacity military weapons designed to kill humans.
American children ages 5 to 14 are 13 times more likely to be killed by a gun than children in all other industrialized nations, according to David Hemenway of Harvard. Why? Because we have safety regulations for just about everything, but very few governing the sales and use of guns. A person can buy an assault weapon at a gun show without a background check, then drive over to Walmart to stock up on ammunition.
Schools are the only safe havens in the lives of many children. Some have suggested that educators should be armed. Would we revise teacher education programs to add marksmanship to the curriculum? Perhaps some would opt to take an exam for a sniper's certificate.
But that would not make us safer. Having guns in school would create a culture of fear and increase opportunities for students to gain access to weapons that could lead to more school shootings.
The easy access to guns that distinguishes the U.S. from other industrialized democracies does not make us freer.
There is no simple solution to the level of violence in this nation. People can start by treating this as a public health and safety issue, one that needs urgent attention to prevent any more children, or adults, from being gunned down.
Debra Smith, New Gloucester