Americans Must Go Deeper on the Gun Debate in 2016

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in DeKalb County, Georgia estimates the odds of a K-12 student being the victim of a school shooting at around 1 in 2.5 million. Even non-fatal gun violence happens only occasionally in schools. Yet, due to the media’s attention on such incidents, people have forgotten that schools are still safer than homes in America, and the public has been reacting to these shocking events in the wrong ways.

For example, schools have been spending more money on electronic security systems, and the estimated market size for electronic security equipment in schools has grown to exceed $1 billion U.S. dollars. In addition, there have been increases in the number of law enforcement officers that schools have hired.

However, schools haven’t expanded the numbers of counselors on staff. The American Counseling Association recommends a maximum student to counselor ratio of 250 to 1. The real ratio in schools, according to the current national average, is 457 to 1. Instead of spending $1 billion U.S. dollars on electronic security equipment, and employing more police, schools should invest in their counseling departments.

As stated by the Secret Service and the Department of Education in a 2004 study, most students, who commit school shootings, acquire their guns from home. Until America can reduce its household gun ownership rates, in addition to more counselors, schools need to create new strategies to assess potential threats in order to control gun violence on campuses.

In 2014, the state of Massachusetts passed a new kind of gun control law that asked schools to begin to track students’ attendance, graduation rates, and other measures of success to look for early warning signs. California recently enacted a law, which enables a family member to ask a judge to remove firearms from an “at-risk” relative. Such laws will decrease the large amount of negligence that has contributed to minors bringing guns from homes to schools.

The Council of Foreign Relations recently had a conversation with John Kasich, Governor of the State of Ohio and 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate. He said,


We need to go deeper on the gun debate than just the gun, and we need to get to the very root cause of what’s happening in our society, and what it is that we’re not doing to strengthen families, to strengthen neighborhoods, to be in a position of dealing with the real serious problems of mental illness, so.

Gun violence costs the U.S. an estimated $229 billion per year, and accounts for 30,000 deaths as well as 70,000 injuries. While the people of America pay the price, and in the case of the injured, a cost that might require a lifetime of care, the gun manufacturers earn the rewards. Sturm Ruger, Smith & Wesson, and Olin do not have gun safety as a priority, and they put their profits before it.

Such companies, which are not good corporate citizens, are almost impossible to sue as a result of the laws they’ve hired lobbyists to get passed. They’ve also lobbied to block research into how to prevent gun violence as well as to restrain doctors from discussing safe gun storage even with families that have mentally ill members, depressed individuals, and domestic abusers. Gun advocates don’t want Americans to view gun safety as a public health issue, but the leading spokesperson on matters of public health in the U.S. federal government, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, does.

In “The Laws of Justice” Master Okawa wrote, “America has the issue of being a gun society. In the U.S., people are being killed in various places because they can own guns freely; we cannot follow suit.”

Since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, despite President Obama’s best efforts to legislate for tighter gun controls, the elected head of the U.S. government hasn’t been successful due to the failure of the Republican Congress to act, and he has been forced to put his attention and resources on other issues. Despite the paralysis in Congress, states have passed hundreds of new firearm laws with mixed results. Some of them have strengthened controls, about the same amount has weakened them, and a good portion has had a minimal impact.

On January 6th, 2016, President Obama gave an address on his latest gun control plan for America. Even though he wept as he described the Newtown victims, there is hope for the future. With the next presidential and congressional races in 2016, this issue should return to the minds of Americans and hopefully remain at the top of the public policy agenda.

The Laws of Justice: How We Can Solve World   Conflicts and Bring Peace [Paperback] by Ryuho Okawa/Buy from

Americans Must Go Deeper on the Gun Debate in 2016
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