Some real solutions to reduce gun violence


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rick_reno
May 26, 2005, 08:49 AM
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7982444/site/newsweek/

Just Ask

How a nonpolitical organization has found some real—and bipartisan—solutions to reduce gun violence WEB-EXCLUSIVE COMMENTARY
By Marc Gellman

Newsweek

Updated: 5:51 p.m. ET May 25, 2005May 25 - Theodore Roethke, the great Michigan poet who died in 1963, once said, “What we need is more people who specialize in the impossible.” In his memory, I will occasionally highlight the work of impossibility specialists. These are people and organizations who are willing to enter politically supercharged issues in the culture wars without becoming political at all. They represent a kind of deep spiritual courage (although some of these impossibility specialists are not religious or even spiritual) that is both rare and needed in order to recover hope. They show us all that outside of the fractious debates and polemics, some real bipartisan human healing can still occur and the poisoned political environment can be detoxified if we look to what we all agree can be done, rather than what we refuse to agree can be done.

I recently encountered some specialists in the impossible who are working in the supercharged field of gun violence—but who have no interest and take no position on the tendentious question of gun control. In 1997 they created a small organization called PAX (www.pax.com) With the leadership of Dan Gross, a budget of under $1 million, a staff of less than 10 and administrative costs of under 10 percent, they have developed several real solutions to the gun violence that tragically snatches nearly 2,900 kids—a 9/11-worth of young people every year—into heaven and away from us every year. Without any programs or flip ideological screeds foolishly and unconstitutionally demanding the confiscation of all guns, the people at PAX have focused instead on what can be done right now by all of us on both sides of the gun debate to save the lives of those who will die next year unless something is done to stop it.

The first of PAX's two major programs is called ASK (Asking Saves Kids). This campaign, created in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics, is so absurdly simple every sensitive soul among us ought to be embarrassed at not thinking it up ourselves. The ASK Campaign simply asks parents to ask the adults in the homes their children are visiting if there is a gun in the house. That's it! Just ask. More than 40 percent of homes in our country have a gun, says PAX, and almost half of those guns are unlocked or loaded or both. I love this idea because it is real, and it is within our power and it works. It empowers parents who already ask about peanuts and dog hair to also ask about guns. More than 400 organizations have joined with PAX to promote the ASK Campaign, and they estimate that now over 2 million play dates per day are preceded by this not-at-all innocent question, “Do you have a gun in your house?”

It’s a question Carol Price wishes she had asked. In a letter written to PAX, Price recalls the events of Aug. 20, 1998: “My 13-year-old son John asked to go to play with his friend down the street. In the five years that John's friend's parents and I had been neighbors, I had never thought about the safety of my son playing at their house, so I let him go. He tousled my hair as he always did and said, 'Thanks mom, I love you.' I watched him through the dining room window as he walked down the sidewalk, stopped just short of our neighbor's front door and blew me a kiss. That was the last time I saw him alive. Twenty minutes later I found the police at my front door. While John was watching TV, Phillip, a 9-year old child in the home, went to an upstairs bedroom, opened a dresser drawer and took out a 9-mm handgun. A few moments later he pulled the trigger. John was struck once in his face and died instantly. It turned out that there were 11 unsecured weapons throughout my neighbor's house. None of us ever knew about the weapons because no one ever asked the question, “Do you have a gun in your home?”

The second project of PAX is called the Speak-Up Campaign. This is the first nationwide hotline for students to anonymously report weapon-related threats at their schools. The hotline number is 866-SPEAK-UP. Again the statistics are numbing. Every day more than 100,000 kids bring a weapon to school. According to PAX literature, every single school day in America eight kids are killed by gun violence, and three out of four attackers told other students about their plans before the shootings. If the ones who are told have the courage to report these threats, lives can be saved. This Speak-Up hotline can give them the courage. Already more than 5,000 calls have come into the hotline and these calls have saved lives. As Michelle, a California student, wrote to PAX: “We found out a boy was going to attack our school. He had four guns and was planning on walking into the cafeteria around lunchtime. They said a lot of people might have been shot, even killed. We told what we knew. We saved our school.”

PAX has a letter of praise from former attorney general John Ashcroft as well as ultraliberal advisers from the Hollywood-New York entertainment glitterati. Together, these strange bedfellows have walked into the mine field of gun violence and have not blown up nor blown up each other. This is because they have sought out and discovered the common ground of concern and the need for real solutions not ideological Armageddon. Earlier this week, I attended the PAX gala in Manhattan, where Rosanne Cash, the daughter of the late Johnny Cash, and one of the honorees at the gala, sent a note to the semi-attentive lamb-chop eaters at Cipriani's. Cash could not attend because she was sitting at the bedside of her gravely ill mother. Her musician husband, John Leventhal, read the note, which apologized for her absence, before he joined Lyle Lovett on stage. “My mother never made us children responsible for our own safety,” wrote Cash. “In the same way, we have to ASK if there's a gun where our children are playing, and we have to help our teenagers SPEAK-UP to report a weapons threat in school; and we have to protect them from their own erratic impulses and innocent curiosity, until they are mature enough to do so themselves. We have to be the grown up in the room. I am sorry I am not there tonight with you … but I thank you for this honor and for supporting PAX, and for being the grown up in the room. God bless you.”

No, Roseanne and all the people at PAX … God bless you! I come from a religious tradition that teaches, if you save one life it is like saving an entire world. The people at PAX are not just kind good folk. They are world savers and my first example in this column of specialists in the impossible. More to follow.


For more information about Pax, visit their Web site at www.pax.com or call 212-269-5100

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Henry Bowman
May 26, 2005, 09:04 AM
Anti-gun emotion and drivel cloaked as "unbiased" and "unpolitical." :barf:

geekWithA.45
May 26, 2005, 09:19 AM
PAX's ASK campaign promotes ignorance and fosters fear. It is an insidious cloaked ploy that implements cloaked aspects from the playbooks of organized gun bigotry.

I've encountered it's fruit personally; one of my little girl's friends mom won't let her daughter come over to play, afraid that "something might happen" with the guns, as if they'd escape the confinement of the safe.

But this is from newsweek, a magazine that hates America, so I'm not surprised.

Newsweek's japanese edition: American flag in trash.
http://www.rickadams.org/journal/article.cfm?id=251

Mulliga
May 26, 2005, 09:20 AM
they have developed several real solutions to the gun violence that tragically snatches nearly 2,900 kids

Ah, yes, more statistics that include 16 year old gang members and 17 year old suicides.

The ASK Campaign simply asks parents to ask the adults in the homes their children are visiting if there is a gun in the house.

Hmm. Good old-fashioned fear-based discrimination. Sounds familiar...

MOM: You can't go to John's house to play, Billy.
BILLY: Why not?
MOM: They're...well...they're...different. (doesn't want to say it's because they're black)

The second project of PAX is called the Speak-Up Campaign. This is the first nationwide hotline for students to anonymously report weapon-related threats at their schools. The hotline number is 866-SPEAK-UP.

Give me a break. All those students who know about impending school shootings have plenty of places to report - teachers, parents, police, etc. How is one national hotline (and this is the first time I've ever heard of it, so I'd wager 97% of kids know nothing about it) going to make any difference? How about teaching kids to build healthy relationships with their local community instead of calling a stranger and making a claim?

armoredman
May 26, 2005, 10:05 AM
Real soution? AZ new firearm education law. This PAX drivel is disgustingly anti, and discriminatory.

beerslurpy
May 26, 2005, 10:19 AM
Since everyone knows that minorities are overrepresented in crime statistics, why not ask if they have any blacks or mexicans as well? I mean, it would be just as tragic if they were robbed or were exposed to drugs. Oh yeah and Jews. It would be terrible if the children were crucified or something.

Yeah totally non-political and non-biased.

dolanp
May 26, 2005, 10:30 AM
Well if they are going to ask about guns they better ask about water buckets, poisonous cleaning materials, fire hazards, vehicles, etc. Those are more dangerous statistically.

Control Group
May 26, 2005, 10:35 AM
I'm going to start an organization. It will advocate parents making sure they ask if the house is owned by Jews before they let little Johnny go visit. It will advocate parents making sure they ask if any of the neighbor family are gay before they let little Johnny go visit. It will advocate parents making sure they ask if the neighbor family has any African-American friends before they let little Johnny go visit.

I will tout this as a "real solution to discrimination in America," and explain the kind of moral courage it takes to do this. I will do this without any programs or flip ideological screeds foolishly and unconstitutionally demanding that people who are different from my race/religion/sexuality be treated differently by the law.

Now accepting donations.

johnster999
May 26, 2005, 12:28 PM
The most sickening antis are the antis who won't admit to even being antis.

999

jefnvk
May 26, 2005, 12:33 PM
I would support the Ask campaign.

Would you really want you kid playing in an undefended household? ;)

MechAg94
May 26, 2005, 12:45 PM
Don't forget:
Are you a juvenile sex offender?
Do you have power tools in the house?
Do you have sharp knives in the house?


I was going to say the first thing they should do if they are truly unbiased is break that rediculous statistic down into accidents, suicides, gang violence or criminal actions, etc... Each of those problems will not have the same solution. To just throw that total number out there just shows that they are not being objective about this issue at all. As was said above, this is not about problem solving at all, this is about emotion and fear. That 9 year old is plenty old enough to learn about guns, gun safety, and not to mess with them. Asking how long since your kids had a lesson in gun safety would seem to be a better question.

Phantom Warrior
May 26, 2005, 01:10 PM
Would you really want you kid playing in an undefended household?

My apolitical organization would recommend asking if there are guns AND if the parents have the will to use them to defend their child and mine. :D

Art Eatman
May 26, 2005, 01:18 PM
Based on only what's given in the article:

If all one does is ASK, it's a failure. Now, if there is a followup question of "Do you keep your guns locked up?" we're getting somewhere. This is where a parent can begin to separate a responsible person from an irresponsible person.

The issue is NOT whether or not there are guns in the house your kid is visiting. The issue is whether the hosting parents are responsible people: Their own kids don't "play" with guns, and they are responsible as to storage/security, whatever you want to call it. And therefore your kid is safe.

Art

heypete
May 26, 2005, 01:48 PM
I'm told that there's a restaraunt somewhere (alas, I heard this at the range...I don't know if its true or not) that has a "gun check" at the front door.

They ask, "Are you carrying a gun?", and if one answers "no" they'll give you one.

I fully support the ASK program -- I'll ask "Do you have a gun at your house?", and if they say "no" or "of course not!", I'll reply with "Shouldn't you have one? Here, want one of mine for today?" :evil:

Standing Wolf
May 26, 2005, 03:31 PM
According to PAX literature, every single school day in America eight kids are killed by gun violence...

One wonders how a rabbi could forget that sixty-odd years ago, roughly 6,000,000 of his unarmed co-religionists were murdered. He's repeating shameless, stupid lies concocted by leftist extremists who've openly declared their intention to disarm every last law-abiding American citizen except cops and criminals.

Unless I'm mistaken, the word for people of his sort is "schmad."

Preacherman
May 26, 2005, 03:44 PM
I'm with Art on this one. I have no objection to parents asking whether I have a gun in the house, but they should go on to ask whether it's securely stored, or inaccessible to kids. This is responsible parenting, and I'd indulge in it myself if I had kids. (Of course, I'd be coming with them for a mutual "show and tell"! :D )

As for the hotline, if it works even once or twice, it's worthwhile. Sometimes kids won't go to the police, but will talk to a source they perceive as neutral and confidential.

Overall, I don't think these programs particularly hurt gun-owners, even if they don't particularly help anything else. They're neutral, and give the anti's a "feel-good" buzz. They may even help a little. Nothing to get fussed about here, IMHO.

pax
May 26, 2005, 04:03 PM
First, to answer the inevitable questions from THR's newer members: no, I'm not. No, it wasn't; I chose it because it's the Latin word for peace and I had never heard of that organization. And yes, I am on your side. ;)

Second. I've had other moms ask me about guns in our home. One of those moms and her four young sons subsequently went to the range with me for a safety day with the kids.

None of the moms who've asked have kept their kids away from mine, mostly because I've never given one a chance to launch into the "well then..." part. I simply pre-empt the conversation by saying, "I'm worried about gun safety, too, which is why ours are always locked up. But you know, locking them up really isn't enough. I think kids need to know about firearms safety, too. What have you taught your kids about safety around firearms?"

This puts them on the defensive, yes... but it also gives me a nice big opening to grab one of my kids and have him explain gun safety to her and her kids. Out of the mouths of babes, you know.

pax

lunaslide
May 26, 2005, 04:37 PM
Pax has it exactly right, no pun intended :-)

The ASK thing can be used to instill fear and ignorance, but it can also be used as an opportunity to start a meaningful conversation with other parents about how ignorance is what really kills kids. Having your own child demonstrate to another adult that they understand the fundamentals of gun saftey and can speak intelegently about their use, care and storage might just be the turning point some people need to get over their fears and learn something meaningful.

I hate when antis try to play the "non-political" card in situations like this, but we don't have to play by their rules. Because the facts are on our side in this debate, more personal level conversation about the topic can only be good. Pax's opening statement of the conversation is a perfect lead in, because truly we are all concerned about gun saftey as well.

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