Gun Violence Protest in Logan

Today at 10:00 a.m. thousands of students left their classes to protest gun violence and to show support for students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, especially the 17 killed, exactly one month ago today. Across the nation reaction by school officials was mixed, with some schools supporting the walkout, some threatening to discipline students who left classes and some taking no official stance but not interfering with the walkout or punishing students. There was also mixed reaction to the nature of the walkout, with some schools terming it a “gun violence” protest and others calling it a show of support and sympathy for all students affected by recent shootings.

In Cache County there are five high schools, four in the Cache County School District and one in the Logan City School District. Logan School District took the position that students, faculty or staff who participated in the walkout could be subject to disciplinary action. District superintendent Frank Schofield issued a memo saying that it is district policy not to endorse or participate in any type of student protest. “Endorsement of any one particular protest places us in a position of choosing whether to support future protests, which potentially places the district in a position of appearing to advocate for certain positions and not others.” However, he added that the district supports seeking government action to prevent gun violence in schools and that they “applaud students who choose to involve themselves in advocating for any position they believe in. . . .”

The Cache County district seems to have taken the middle road, neither approving nor prohibiting students’ participation. At Green Canyon High in North Logan a number of students left the school promptly at 10:00 and gathered on the east side. School officials were outside and one told me that the school didn’t approve the walkout, per district rules, but that the students have a right to gather.

 

 

 

 

There were a few signs and a few comments but by and large it was a quiet though not necessarily somber gathering. Judging by the size of the crowd a number of students didn’t take part. There was one possible sign of counter-protest as this truck drove past the gathering, but there was no confrontation among the students.

 

Two of the students, one a freshman, the other a senior and the organizer, spoke with the press. Both expressed their concerns over their safety in coming to school every day. The organizer said that she had tried to keep politics out of this, emphasizing that whether you’re for or against gun control, people’s attitudes need to change.

This latter statement gives me hope.  As I wrote earlier, we don’t necessarily have a gun or gun control problem; we have a cultural problem. As a society we embrace violence.  Until we can change that attitude we won’t make any inroads into the gun violence issue.

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Guns, Gun Control, and Society

I haven’t written much lately, let alone written anything remotely controversial, so I decided that today is the day to wade into the gun debate. I don’t want to keep you guessing so I’ll say it up front: I’m pro-guns. I’m also not blind to the fact that we have a problem with the misuse of guns in the United States. So here are some thoughts.

Sound Bites Aren’t Productive

My twitter account, Facebook feed and email inbox are filled with short snippets that pass for sound bites. Things like: “No one needs an assault rifle.” Perhaps not, but it can be argued that no one needs a Lamborghini or a 20,000 square foot home, yet they aren’t illegal.  “Imagine a nation that loved guns so much it sacrificed its children for them.” This one is countered by “Imagine a nation that loved cars so much it sacrifices 50,000 people a year for them.” “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” And then there are the statistics. “The U.S. has the third highest homicide rate in the world. But if you eliminate Detroit, Chicago, Washington D.C. and New Orleans, all cities with strict gun control laws, the U.S drops to fourth from the bottom.” As if correlation was causation. No, sound bites or text snippets don’t produce results. They just express biases.

It’s a Cultural Problem

We have a culture that thrives on violence. Movies, music, video games, TV shows all glamorize violence. Can you imagine a Star Wars or super heroes movie without violence?  Is there a video game that isn’t based on blowing something or someone up? No I don’t have data to back this up but it’s intuitive to me that young men (the shooters are almost all young men) raised on a steady diet of watching carnage and creating virtual carnage will eventually want to gravitate to the real thing. Blaming guns is like shooting the messenger (pun intended). A shooting is just the message delivered by the gun that society has a problem. Effecting a social change is hard. It’s so much easier to blame the inanimate object so we can feel good about ourselves. Until the next message is delivered.

I don’t have a solution to fixing the cultural problem. That’s way above my pay grade. But that’s the problem we have to address, not who buys guns or what guns they buy or how long they have to wait.