By Sandy Milner Odessa
In reference to Joseph Uecker’s letter of March 11, he makes a couple of good points, but I have to take exception with some of his concepts.
He says that our generation has failed today’s young people and he wants to encourage high schoolers to keep pressure on elected officials to change the gun laws. He is referring to the Margory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, of course. And, to the protests and marches the students have, supposedly, organized by themselves.
Where my opinion differs from his is in his definition of our failure. He seems to believe that his and my generation, (he is 76, and I am 72) have failed by not enacting stricter gun laws, in a (futile) effort to stop mass shootings. I infer from his letter that he believes more gun laws will stop crazies and criminals from shooting people. That is so untrue, and has been factually proven wrong so many times that I’m not going into it in this letter.
Where I believe my generation has failed today’s teenagers is in not teaching them patriotism, responsibility, and respect for other people. We failed when we started trying to protect our kids from everything life throws at them. Kids learn to cope with life by being allowed to fail. We failed when we started awarding trophies for mere participation, rather than for winning. We also failed when we took the authority to punish students away from the teachers. We failed when we started letting parents shun all their responsibility of raising respectful kids and let the parents expect the teachers to do it for them. Then, at the same time, letting parents claim that teachers were treating their kids unfairly when the teachers tried to maintain discipline in the classrooms. Too many times, parents think that their precious, little darlings can do no wrong, therefore it must be the teacher’s fault. The teacher is either racist, sexist, or lying about their kid.
Mr. Uecker seems to want the kids to dictate law to adults and to our elected representatives, while forgetting that just a couple of weeks before the Florida shooting, teenagers were in the news because they were eating Tide pods. And, now, all of a sudden, they are experts on Constitutional law, and the 2nd Amendment?
Most psychiatrists agree that a young person’s brain is not fully developed enough to make adult choices until about the early 20s. Prior to that, they tend to be more impulsive, and make more bad choices. So why would we listen to them when they try to tell us that we should ban guns, or not allow armed guards in the schools, or restrict what kinds of guns should be allowed to be sold? Since they are impulsive, it becomes obvious that they are merely reacting emotionally, rather than rationally. Emotional thinking says, “We need to get rid of guns, so this won’t happen again.” Rational thought says that we should enforce the existing laws, and leave the Constitution alone, rather than blame the 2nd Amendment, and the NRA.
Yes, the school shootings are horrible occurrences, but blaming guns, banning guns, or passing more gun laws is not the answer. We have more than enough laws on the books now, but criminals and crazies do not obey the laws. That’s the definition of “criminal”.
I do believe, however, that the minimum age to buy a semi-automatic rifle, such as the AR-15, should be raised to 21. The age right now is 18. However, if the person is in the military, or has been in the military between the ages of 18 and 21, then he could buy a semi-automatic. With no military service, 18 year-olds should be restricted to single-shot, bolt-action, slide-action, or lever-action rifles. I also believe that the age to vote should be raised from 18 to 21, again unless the person is, or has been, in the military. Military discipline can give young people a better chance of making rational, informed decisions, and a sense of patriotism, than someone who is eating detergent has!
To go along with the above criteria, I also believe that if we are going to let 18 year-olds enlist in the military, we should at least not send them into combat until they are 21. In our past wars, 18 year-olds fought in combat and most behaved admirably, but most 18 year-olds now are not as mature as 18 year-olds were during WWI and WWII, or even during Viet Nam. I look around at high school students now, and I am surprised that most of them can dress themselves! So I certainly don’t want them telling me how to vote, or what kind of gun I can buy.