The Problem with Kindness as a Solution to Gun Violence

“Walk UP, not OUT” — you probably saw that counter-spiel too, amidst all of the plans and reactions to the national walk-out set for today to protest the prevalence of gun violence and the lack of meaningful response to school shootings.

The counter-thread goes something like this: instead of walking out, walk up to a student who could use some kindness and be nice to them.

Is this…supposed to prevent future school shootings? Is it supposed to be a more effective solution than legislating to make it more difficult for disturbed people to purchase guns and/or bring them into a school setting?

I advocate for kindness all the time; compassion is at the very core of my personal moral code. By all means, be kind — every day. Strive to be kind.

Today is not about that. Do you really think kindness will magically shield your child from being riddled with bullets if someone else decides to spray the school using an assault rifle they easily acquired in a fit of anger?

Today is about students’ right to live, to be — and feel — safe in school.

Telling students not to exercise their first amendment rights is bad enough. Curbing their options to something school-controlled and small, taking the sting and the power out of students leaving the classroom en masse…well, you have a message too, and I hear it loud and clear.

I am absolutely certain the GOP and the NRA are behind the “just be kind; don’t actually try to change things” counter-wave here. The NRA’s reasoning is clear; they don’t want anything resembling reasonable, common-sense gun control. And the GOP disfavors any show of challenging authority; if children learn early on that they have voices and power, that they can choose not to accept the lies and placating shoulder pats they receive, they may not grow up to be malleable and eager to swallow the steady stream of propaganda from Fox News.

Can’t have a freethinking populace now, can we? Not and have the GOP remain at the helm — and Republicans know that.

My larger issue with pushing kindness as a solution to gun violence is that it places the onus of prevention on the innocents in the situation. It is the same as telling women, “Well, you wouldn’t have been raped if your skirt wasn’t so short.”

Nobody, regardless of their clothing, deserves to be raped. Nobody was “asking for it.”

No child, regardless of their behavior at school, deserves to be shot. And by telling them they need to be kind to the loners, we place the responsibility for not getting shot on the children.

My kids are 9, 10, and 12 years old. They are NOT responsible for whether they’re shot at school! I’m absolutely unwilling to buy that they, being kind children, could keep someone from choosing to shoot up their schools — or that their kindheartedness would keep them from being victims in that situation.

It’s our responsibility — the adults — the parents, the teachers, the community, the country as a whole — to keep our children safe.

Kindness can’t do that. Common-sense gun legislation could.

It’s on us.

These kids see that. They walk out today to let us know that they are not going to accept our inaction. They reject our passivity and the danger they’re in every day at school.

So should we.

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