GRANITE PEAK PUBLICATIONS: Accompanying travelers to the national park since 2002

Guns in schools—can we “vaccinate” our way out of gun violence?

This [in 2012] is the first and perhaps the only time I want to post something that has very little, if anything, to do with Yellowstone. Back in 2008 I did speak out when Congress stuck an amendment onto an irrelevant bill. That amendment stated: “Visitors will be able to carry a loaded gun into a park or wildlife refuge—but only if the person has a permit for a concealed weapon and if the state where the park or refuge is located also allows concealed firearms.”

At the time I commented: “With the history of gun-related crime that this country bears, this is an instance of a foolish policy that will add to the burden that law-enforcement rangers are already charged with. It will lessen the sense of tranquility and safety that all visitors are entitled to in a national park.” Fortunately, however, we have not seen an increase in gun-related crime against people in the national parks, although the incidence of animal killings with guns may have risen in these years.

Still, I am upset to learn that, in a country trying to understand the terrible news about the senseless December 14th Connecticut school massacre, the National Rifle Association would come up with their solution, as if adding more guns to the mix would relieve the problem.

Their suggestion for putting an armed guard in every American school sounds to me like they are equating this huge and complex problem with the relatively straightforward disease problems that have been nearly conquered by vaccination. In vaccinating children against smallpox or polio or adults against influenza, we are injecting them with a controlled amount of dead or less virulent germs that protects people, often for life, against that disease. If only the gun problem were that simple!

We cannot “vaccinate” children against the actions of unstable people with guns in their hands by adding more guns to schools. We can cut back drastically in the number of guns, starting with assault weapons, that are easily available to people in this country. Let us start with small, reasonable steps to find ways to protect innocent people from senseless violence.

The CNN commentary that just appeared has a thoughtful article about this: