Daniel Oliver recently wrote an article featured on The Federalist, titled ‘Lord of the Flies’ Teaches Everything you Need to Know about Letting Kids Push Gun Control. While some good points are made, there are a few that just don’t sit well with me. In this article, he’s talking about the recent student walkouts over gun control in America that happened in response to mass shootings. He opens with a quote where a girl says “I’m not learning my subjects – I’m learning how to literally survive.” An obvious over exaggeration, but expected from some due to the way these tragedies are reported. However, he then uses a quote from another girl who said that we deserve to live without fear and violence. Now, while that may sound like a nice life, there’s no possible way to completely end fear and violence. We can, however, take steps to reduce them. The tricky part is finding the balance between individual freedoms and the safety of others or society as a whole.
If Daniel had raised that point, I wouldn’t have objected. He didn’t raise that point. “what [has] she or any of her classmates has done to deserve anything. They live in the United States of America, where most of the people on this planet would gladly give most or all of what they have to live. There are people who have struggled for a lifetime to support themselves, their children, and their communities who may deserve something, but surely none of them expected a life without struggle or suffering.” For starters, I don’t think she was trying to imply that some accomplishment grants the reward of no fear or violence, but rather that we as a society should strive to reduce the amounts of fear and violence. Secondly, just because the United States is better than many other countries doesn’t mean we’re perfect, and doesn’t mean we don’t have problems. And of course there are people whose lives were nothing but struggle, those efforts and sacrifices are what moves humanity forward. Like a struggling parent going hungry so their children can eat, our efforts should be focused on providing a better future for the future generations.
Now, this isn’t me saying that I believe that guns shouldn’t be sold and that everyone’s guns should be confiscated, but rather that we do actually have a large discrepancy in our gun related deaths in America. This topic is very difficult to discuss though, due to disinformation from both sides, be it intentional or unintentional. If you look at gun deaths as a whole, you’ll see that the US has an astronomically higher death rate than any other developed country. However, one might point out that suicides are included in gun deaths, and contribute an alarming amount. So when we look at just murders alone, maybe that numbers will turn out differently. That isn’t the case, however. The United States still has a much higher rate of gun homicide as well.
One contributing factor may be the fact that while America has 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it also has almost half of the world’s citizen-owned guns. (Source) In fact, that Vox article is pretty good, so give that a read.
Back to the article, he brings up the point that 131 people have been killed, with 254 additionally injured, in assaults at schools since the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. However, he attempts to use deaths from car accidents as a way of discrediting those advocating for stricter gun laws. Since 572 students die each year from car accidents, why aren’t kids advocating for safer driving? He answers his own question by saying that it is because people like driving fast and driving distracted, and “what do you know about driving anyway, kid, and besides it’s my car and I’ve been driving since before you were born, and you’re damn lucky I don’t make you walk to school the way Abe Lincoln did, and if you spend all day frolicking in the park with your greasy classmates you’ll never amount to a hill of beans and get a job and be self-supporting so your mother and I can retire and have some fun.”
Now, while it is true that any number of car accident related deaths would be too high, this comparison doesn’t pan out. First of all, getting your driver’s license isn’t that quick of a process. Relative to many other countries it is, but not compared to that of purchasing a gun. You are required to take a class, take a road test, have a learner’s permit for a certain amount of time, and even after getting your license you often have additional restraints on what you can do, how many people you can have in your car, etc. Also, think of how many millions of people are on the road daily. When you get to that amount of people driving it’s inevitable to have some unfortunate accidents. The second answer is a joke, at least it seems like it, so there’s nothing really to say about that one.
“And read Lord of the Flies, and try to understand why children, who aren’t especially good at governing themselves, shouldn’t — until they grow up — have a say in governing a republic whose founding documents were devised to filter and limit the power of the mob to rule the body politic.” Is the conclusion of the article. Now, surprisingly, teenagers are often a mixed bag. Kind of like your general population. Crazy concept, I know, but just hear me out. Some high school students might actually have the maturity and understanding to voice their opinions on topics like gun control. Some are eve allowed to vote! I’m sure there are plenty of high school students that are more capable of coming to logical conclusions than plenty of adults, so simply ruling out a whole group of people because of age is lazy. If they’re truly that incorrect, then surely it won’t be difficult to show why their arguments don’t stand. Of course, there are going to be those unreasonable ones that are unable to look at things from another point of view, but the same can be said about any age group. So, instead of shaming and shunning teenagers, allow them to voice their opinions, allow them to practice being involved citizens, and educate on different methods are looking at information and arguing and forming conclusions or opinions. It will help them in the future, which should be important seeing as how they will one day be running the country.