(Note to readers – due to the printing schedule, this column had to be written prior to Tuesday’s special election outcome.)
Somewhere in South Carolina – What if you saw news reports that a member of the South Carolina legislature has introduced a bill to change the states quarter-century old law regarding what students are taught about guns? For argument’s sake, let’s call the legislator Rep. Chuck Wagon. Chuck is concerned that violent death by handguns is one of the leading causes of death among males under the age of 25. “For a quarter of a century, we’ve only taught young people not to use guns. We’ve promoted gun abstinence. We’ve ignored the reality that young people are going to make their own choices, so the more they know about guns and guns safety – how guns really work and what the consequences are of shooting them at another person – the wiser the choices they will be able to make.”
In this imaginary scenario, gun control advocates say Rep. Chuck Wagon’s proposal is simply outrageous and irresponsible. “It is irresponsible for our young people to learn about gun use from their school,” said spokeswoman Nanny Statesley. “It is not the place of the public schools to be telling young people about the nature of guns, their use or their dangers. Teaching about gun safety is sending teens the message that its okay to even considering using them. What we need to be teaching young people is not to think about using guns at all. At their age, they do not have the judgment and wisdom to use guns wisely.”
Our imaginary legislator would respond, “We can’t act like young people aren’t going to be exposed to guns. Teaching them the physics of guns, how they operate and how to safely handle a gun in no way actually promotes their use. Why can’t we just give them the information? Why can’t we tell them everything about guns, ammunition and how to keep a weapon clean, but not to actually pull the trigger, at least not when anyone else is around? What’s the harm in that?”
Rep. Wagon is also drafting a bill that he will introduce to allow religious instruction in the public schools. His bill will call for leaders of religious congregations located in the communities near the state’s schools to give the facts about their beliefs and religious practices. His bill has raised rancor from the ACLU, Americans for the Separation of Church and State and a Charleston-based humanist group. All the groups voiced outrage, saying any such instruction amounted to proselytizing.
“Why, how can that be?” responded Rep. Wagon. “I just voted on South Carolina’s new sex education law, the argument for which was that exposure to mere facts in no way influences, entices, nor endorses behavior. All I’m doing is applying that logic to instruction about guns and religion in public schools.”
Imagine. Just imagine…
Will Haynie has published more than 400 oped columns as a feature columnist for the Asheville Citizen-Times and the Hendersonville (N.C.) Times-News when it was owned by the New York Times. His niche is as a humorous conservative. Find him on Twitter at @willhaynie or email him at Haynie.email@example.com.