• August 20, 2019

WILLIAMS: Things haven’t always been this way - Odessa American: Opinion Columnist

e-Edition Subscribe

WILLIAMS: Things haven’t always been this way

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2019 4:00 am

Here’s a suggestion. How about setting up some high school rifle clubs? Students would bring their own rifles to school, store them with the team coach and, after classes, collect them for practice. You say: “Williams, you must be crazy! To prevent gun violence, we must do all we can to keep guns out of the hands of kids.”

There’s a problem with this reasoning. Prior to the 1960s, many public high schools had shooting clubs. In New York City, shooting clubs were started at Boys, Curtis, Commercial, Manual Training and Stuyvesant high schools. Students carried their rifles to school on the subway and turned them over to their homeroom or gym teacher. Rifles were retrieved after school for target practice. In some rural areas across the nation, there was a long tradition of high school students hunting before classes and storing their rifles in the trunks of their cars, parked on school grounds, during the school day.

Today, any school principal permitting rifles clubs or allowing rifles on school grounds would be fired, possibly imprisoned. Here’s my question: Have .30-30 caliber Winchesters and .22 caliber rifles changed to become more violent? If indeed rifles have become more violent, what can be done to pacify them? Will rifle psychiatric counseling help to stop these weapons from committing gun violence? You say: “Williams, that’s lunacy! Guns are inanimate objects and as such cannot act.” You’re right. Only people can act. That means that we ought to abandon the phrase “gun violence” because guns cannot act and hence cannot be violent.

If guns haven’t changed, it must be that people, and what’s considered acceptable behavior, have changed. Violence with guns is just a tiny example. What explains a lot of what we see today is growing cultural deviancy. Twenty-nine percent of white children, 53% of Hispanic children and 73% of black children are born to unmarried women. The absence of a husband and father in the home is a strong contributing factor to poverty, school failure, crime, drug abuse, emotional disturbance and a host of other social problems. By the way, the low marriage rate among blacks is relatively new. Census data shows that a slightly higher percentage of black adults had married than white adults from 1890 to 1940. According to the 1938 Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, that year only 11% of black children and 3% of white children were born to unwed mothers.

In 1954, I graduated from Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin High School, the city’s poorest school. During those days, there were no school policemen. Today, close to 400 police patrol Philadelphia schools. According to federal education data, in the 2015-16 school year, 5.8% of the nation’s 3.8 million teachers were physically attacked by a student. Almost 10% were threatened with injury.

Other forms of cultural deviancy are found in the music accepted today that advocates murder, rape and other vile acts. In previous generations, people were held responsible for their behavior. Today, society at large pays for irresponsible behavior. Years ago, there was little tolerance for the crude behavior and language that are accepted today. To see men sitting while a woman was standing on a public conveyance was once unthinkable. Children addressing adults by their first name, and their use of foul language in the presence of, and often to, teachers and other adults was unacceptable.

A society’s first line of defense is not the law or the criminal justice system but customs, traditions and moral values. These behavioral norms, mostly imparted by example, word-of-mouth and religious teachings, represent a body of wisdom distilled over the ages through experience and trial and error. Police and laws can never replace these restraints on personal conduct. At best, the police and criminal justice system are the last desperate line of defense for a civilized society. Today’s true tragedy is that most people think what we see today has always been so. As such, today’s Americans accept behavior that our parents and grandparents never would have accepted.

Odessa, TX

Current Conditions

Sunny
77°
Humidity: 62%
Winds: SSE at 9mph
Feels Like: 77°

Your Extended Forecast

Tomorrow

weather
High 99°/Low 74°
Sunshine. Highs in the upper 90s and lows in the mid 70s.

wednesday

weather
High 97°/Low 74°
Mostly sunny. Highs in the upper 90s and lows in the mid 70s.

thursday

weather
High 96°/Low 74°
Plenty of sun. Highs in the mid 90s and lows in the mid 70s.
Online Features

Pet Central

pets

Having a pet is a lot of responsibility, and we’ll help by giving you lots of tips and tricks! More >>

Fitness

Fitness

Our fitness articles will help teach you how to work out with gym- and home-based exercises. More >>

Crosswords

Crosswords

Enjoy the crosswords challenge in our free daily puzzles, from the harder Sunday crossword to the quicker daily. More >>

Sudoku

Sudoku

Every Sudoku has a unique solution that can be reached logically. Enter numbers into the blank spaces so that each row, column and 3x3 box contains the numbers 1 to 9. More >>




  • ALL-ACCESS: Subscribe to our e-edition and premium website at myoaoa.com.
    You can read your daily newspaper without taking a walk to the driveway.
    Look back at yesterday's newspaper, or issues from months ago with our archive feature.
    Call circulation at 432-337-7670 to sign up today.