The fact that I am pro 2nd Amendment is no secret; not among my friends, family or coworkers. The fact that I believe people have a right to self-defense and SHOULD always defend themselves is no secret. The fact that I believe it’s honorable and admirable to stand up and defend others if they can’t defend themselves is no secret. So it follows, the fact that some of the anti-gun, anti-self-defense reactions in our country lately make me shake my head and wonder where we went wrong.
In this story we read about a seven year old little boy who was eating his breakfast pastry and trying to chew off bites to shape it like a mountain. How creative is that? How imaginative is that? How cool is that? Unfortunately, his efforts weren’t quite successful and the pastry ended up, according to some, shaped like a gun. And because this 7-year old child had the audacity to eat his breakfast pastry in such a way as to shape it like a gun, even though that wasn’t his intent, the school saw fit to suspend him for two days. SUSPENDED – for accidentally eating his breakfast pastry in a way that some teacher thought made it look like a gun. Don’t you think that might be taking the anti-gun zealotry a tad too far?
And in this story we read about a high school student who found himself in the unenviable position of seeing one student point a loaded gun at another student. Rather than turn and run; rather than seek a hiding spot; rather than doing what our nation’s Department of Justice has suggested are the preferred two courses of action when confronted with an armed individual, this student-witness TACKLED the kid with the gun and disarmed him thereby potentially saving the life of the almost-victim. And what reward did this hero student get for his actions? He got suspended from school for three days “for being involved in an altercation.”
Since 2000 I’ve been an Active Shooter Response instructor. I’ve also had numerous articles about such response published and I’ve been honored to speak at events nationwide regarding such response. The one thing I’ve always mentioned is the fact that we have spent the last two decades teaching our children to be willing victims. This latest event wherein the high school hero was suspended (punished) for saving the life of another student is a clear example.
I understand “zero tolerance” and its intent. I’ve always thought it was flawed because the simple truth of “zero tolerance” is that it doesn’t permit for unexpected circumstance; it doesn’t take into consideration the fact that we’re dealing with children; it doesn’t allow for potentially heroic actions, much less allowing for them to be rewarded. How about if we try out “zero tolerance filtered through common sense”? How about if we actually require some thinking and positive action on the part of our schools’ faculty and administrators and let them exercise some judgment? Sure, we’ll disagree with some of them but at least we won’t have mandated a situation where every child in the country is being taught to be a willing victim.
As to the boy who ate his breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun: how ridiculous can we get? Again, I understand “zero tolerance” toward the presence of weapons in schools but to date I’ve seen articles where children were suspended for having cut a piece of notebook paper into the shape of a gun, for having pointed their finger and said, “Bang!”, for having thrown an imaginary grenade on a playground and now… for eating their breakfast wrong.
Gone are the days of playing “cops and robbers” (where kids could learn how great it was to win over the bad guys); gone are the days of playing “cowboys and Indians” (because that’s just so politically incorrect we’ve done away with an entire genre of movies); gone are the days of playing “army” or “war” because heaven forbid we actually let our children play in a manner that might allow them to acknowledge the potential for conflict.
Sure, I get it. We don’t want to glorify violence thereby teaching our children that it’s good to be violent. What we’ve completely missed is that with this “zero tolerance” policy we’ve also stopped teaching our children that fighting for what you believe in is good. We’ve stopped teaching our children to stand up for themselves. We’ve stopped teaching our children to stand up to the under-dog. We spend millions (if not billions) on anti-bullying programs but we actively teach our children NOT to fight back against the bully and we PUNISH the child who successfully does!
Our country… our society… our children cannot continue to be successful if we constantly are punishing them for doing the right thing. I marvel that we still have young people volunteering for military service, law enforcement work or even public safety jobs in general. An informal study showed that approximately two-thirds of those who do come from families where others already have. Gasp… you mean… fighting back and protecting the under-dog is a learned behavior? Um, DUH!! So let’s quit trying to suppress it and empower our children to defend themselves in a righteous and justified manner.