What’s Missing From the Gun Control Debate

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When I think of the children in Newtown, Connecticut who were senselessly and viciously shot and killed, I think about the birthdays they will never have, the graduations they will never have and the beautiful lives that will never manifest in the way they should have.  I try not to think about Adam Lanza a lot, but instead I try to focus on the helpers of that day.  One person committed a heinous act inside Sandy Hook Elementary School that horrific day in December last year, but many more committed acts of bravery and courage, some even dying to protect our most vulnerable members in society, our children.  There were many more heroes that stood out on that day to me than the one lonely villain.

But too many people, too many, hear the words Sandy Hook or the word Newtown, and their brains instantaneously focus on one other word– guns.  Either they begin to talk about how gun control is absolutely necessary or they talk about how there shouldn’t be any new restrictions on gun ownership whatsoever.  How did we all let the politicians and the media brainwash us into thinking this way?  I don’t understand.  There was mention of mental health at first, but now the conversation seems to have dropped off of the face of the earth.  What happened to it?  There has hardly been any conversation at all about how all of the mass shooters as of late have been young men.  And how do we socialize these young men?  One need look no further than Steubenville, Ohio to answer that question.

Why haven’t we questioned our whole society, and how we treat boys, and how the whole of society turns these young boys with all of the capabilities of growing up to be fine young men into men who rape and who are violent, more so than young women?  Sorry, that is not a stereotype.  That is a verifiable fact.

“Why haven’t we questioned our whole society, and how we treat boys, and how the whole of society turns these young boys with all of the capabilities of growing up to be fine young men into men who rape and who are violent, more so than young women?  Sorry, that is not a stereotype.  That is a verifiable fact.”

What I feel is missing from the conversation is the fact that we socialize our boys and our men to be more aggressive.  Boys are called “overly-sensitive” when they cry, whereas we will go out of our way to comfort a little girl who cries.  We make sure to teach our girls empathy, to care about how others feel, but do we teach the same to our boys?  I am not so sure.  We buy our little girls dolls to nurture, and Easy Bake ovens.  We buy our little boys video games and footballs to compete against each other with. And if that little boy falls while he is playing with his ball and scrapes his knee, we teach him to be ashamed if he cries, and we tell him to “toughen up.”  So shame on us, on all of us, for creating these Adam Lanza’s and James Holmes’s by having our young boys bottle up their feelings, by having them never learn that feelings are okay, and by allowing them to explode when they get older.

Talk to your little boys, show them you care about not only what they can achieve and who they can beat in a football game, but you also care about who they are inside, how they feel, and you care about helping them through their emotions such as anger, sadness, shame, fear and doubt.  When they cry you let them cry, you hold them and you let them know you are there for them and show them how to have empathy.  Teach them that all of the emotions they feel, other people feel those same emotions too, and they should think about that.  Teach them empathy.  This is so important, teach them empathy.

While you do that, I will be thinking about the children who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary that awful day in December of last year, right before Christmas, and the birthdays they will never have, the graduations they will never attend, the lives that will never blossom.  I will think about the heroes of that day.  I will think about how I will teach my boys empathy, love and compassion.  I will think about teaching them how to be heroes.