Just before Christmas break in 1976, when I was a 16-year-old sophomore at Mason High School, my speech class presented a Christmas play. I was cast as a toy soldier, and part of my costume, by necessity, was a rifle. I didn’t have a toy rifle, so I told my teacher I would bring my .22 that day. She said that would be fine.
When I left the house that morning for school, my mother asked me why I was taking the rifle. I told her about the play, and she said, "Well, be careful." She always told me to be careful. She’s a mom; it’s her job.
At school I carried the rifle inside and put it in my locker. When kids or teachers saw it and asked me about it I told them about the play. No one complained or made a big deal about my bringing a gun to school. No one called the police, or asked if the gun was loaded. No one seemed concerned in the least that I might try to shoot anyone.
When it came time for the play I took the rifle from my locker to the auditorium, used it in the play, and put it back in my locker. After school I took it back to my pickup and went home. It was never in a case or hidden in any way the whole time. And no one cared.
Last week, after hearing five and a half hours of testimony, the Texas House Committee on Homeland Security & Public Safety voted 5 – 3 to advance House Bill 750 to the House Calendars Committee. HB 750, authored by state representative Joe Driver (R-Garland), would allow students 21 and older, who possess concealed handgun permits, to legally carry guns on Texas school campuses. But first, of course, it has to get by the House Calendars Committee.
The Senate Criminal Justice Committee considered Senate Bill 354, the companion bill to HB 750, on Tuesday, March 22. At this writing, prior to March 22, I don’t know whether SB 354 will pass, but I expect it will. There seems to be an awakening lately in America, and especially the southwestern states, to the fact that gun control is the enemy of civilization.
This seems to be a difficult concept for some to grasp, but it is nevertheless true. Without guns in the hands of free citizens there would be no civilization as we know it. Certainly it would not be possible to create and maintain a republic, which is the type of government our country is supposed to have. Of the five types of government possible, a republic is the only one that can be fair to everyone involved.
The situation where there is no rule is called anarchy. A monarchy is a government where one person reigns. An oligarchy is when a select few boss everyone else. Majority rule, which is what many seem to think America is supposed to be, is democracy. A republic is defined as rule of law, and is the only form of government where everyone can possibly be treated the same.
When Benjamin Franklin stepped out of Independence Hall after the Constitutional Convention created our government in 1787, a Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked him, "Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?"
Franklin replied, "A republic, ma’am, if you can keep it."
Keeping a government can be harder than creating it. Any of the other forms of government, excluding anarchy, can be maintained indefinitely as long as the people can be controlled. A republic is made up of free people, not being controlled, but governing themselves.
Controlling others is simple on a personal basis. It becomes more difficult as numbers increase, but the principle is the same. If I want you to do something, I have two options – coercion and force. In a civilized society, force is unacceptable.
The only way to remove force from the equation is to equalize the capabilities of the parties involved. Otherwise the strong control the weak, the honest are cheated by the dishonest, and bad rules over good. Remove force, and the 250-pound biker cannot overpower the frail grandmother.
If honest people are denied the use of arms, force is guaranteed the dishonest. This is true in any group of two or more participants. When people are armed they cannot be forced to comply with demands, and must then be coerced.
Our schools, by banning arms, create a situation where force is no longer removed from the mix, and people intent on causing harm are free to do so. Those willing to commit crimes disregard laws already, so the ban does not apply to them.
Our schools will be safer if HB 750 and SB 354 are passed. If they aren’t, school shootings will continue to be bloodbaths. These laws won’t stop school shootings, but they will enable students to end them far quicker, with less loss of life.
Guns are civilization. We owe our college students the most basic right, the right to protect themselves from those who would do them harm. Guns in schools aren’t the problem. The problem is defenseless students.
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who will have two sons in college next year. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to voice your opinion to your representatives on HB 750 and SB 354, contact information for the Texas House Calendars Committee can be found at http://www.house.state.tx.us/committees/committee/?committee=050