The scene must have been horrific. Blood from bullet holes staining the shirt of young Luis Nevarez, a 13-year-old student at Edison Middle School, as he lay dying on the streets of South Los Angeles in June 2007. Friends ran away in terror from the criminals who had just murdered him, and this writer, his World History teacher, had to stand before his classmates the next day and tell them he was dead. Later it was learned Luis was shot by gang members who were looking for future rivals to kill. They asked Luis and his friends where they were from, and knowing that that question spelled trouble for kids from the wrong neighborhood, his friends fled. Luis didn’t understand, answered the question, and was shot on the spot, leaving grieving parents, students, and an entire school behind.
The loss of students, or even youths in general, owing to gun violence can be very traumatic and calls out for an answer, and Americans do need to provide an answer. But what is being proposed in the national media and by politicians won’t work — can’t work — and will probably make the problem worse.
The media and many politicians want to continue with so-called gun-free school zones (which apparently draw those seeking infamy through bloodbaths) and limit the types of guns that can be sold, as well as the number of rounds that a gun’s magazine is capable of holding — limit how many bullets it can shoot before reloading. However, none is a workable solution.
Gun-free school zones only stop law-abiding citizens from bringing guns to school. Any kid or adult could fill a backpack or coat with large pockets full of guns and ammo, and no one would be the wiser until he started shooting. Even when schools have metal detectors at the door, they are very often not used on a daily basis because using them is time consuming and the detectors are typically set up only by one set of doors, and armed thugs can typically get in other doors with little problem.
As to eliminating guns, there are an estimated 300 million guns in the United States, and even if strict gun control laws are passed, they won’t limit access to weapons available to criminals. The result would merely be that more guns would be owned illegally.
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Photo: AP Images
John Weldon is a teacher in the Centinela Valley Union High School District in California.