The intensified debate over gun violence following the massacre of 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, misses a critical point. The debate starts at the wrong end.
Isaac Newton’s third law of thermodynamics states: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
While Newton’s laws were about physics, the concept of action and reaction, cause and effect, could be applied in other areas, such as violent people using guns to kill other people. Notice I said violent people, not gun violence.
Instead of starting with guns, we should start from the beginning. If voters elect liberal district attorneys and liberal judges who free dangerous criminals, sometimes on low or no bail, that’s action. The opposite reaction is that many of them will commit new crimes.
As the conservative Heritage Foundation notes, “The most prominent rogue prosecutors are George Gascon in Los Angeles, Chesa Boudin in San Francisco, Kim Foxx in Chicago, Larry Krasner in Philadelphia, Marilyn Mosby in Baltimore, Kimberly Gardner in St. Louis and Rachel. Rollins in Boston.
There are others, like Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm.
The UK Daily Mail reports that Chisholm told an interviewer, “Will there be an individual that I hijack, or put on a program, who will come out and kill? You bet.”
Chisholm’s office gave a convicted drug dealer a deferred prosecution. After his release, reports the Mail, this dealer fatally injected heroin into a 26-year-old woman and then attempted to conceal her body. The man, Darrell Brooks, was arrested but released on $1,000 bond. Within weeks, Brooks drove through a Christmas parade, killing five people. He had previously been convicted of a felony for running over the mother of his children.
Once again, an action (low bail for a dangerous criminal) produced a reaction (the death of innocent people).
In our schools and our culture, if the action is to refuse to teach right from wrong, the reaction will be to create a generation of people who will behave as they wish.
McGuffey readers were used in many American public schools from 1836 to 1936. They contained sayings and lessons designed to conform young people to a standard of behavior that was good for them, their families, and the culture at large. These values included patriotism, respect for parents, honesty, and hard work as a path to success.
They also promoted the need for religious faith as the foundation for a better life. Here is an excerpt from the 1879 edition: “Religion: Sole Basis of Society. How helpless conscience would be without belief in a God. Erase all thought and fear of God from a community and selfishness and sensuality would absorb the whole Man. … Man would become what the theory of atheism declares him to be.
Again, action and reaction. The teaching of moral absolutes and faith produced a type of person. Failure to teach these values, in fact their opposite, has predictably created a different type of human in modern times, the type that shoots up schools and kills children. Can anyone credibly claim that the concepts in these ancient books failed to create adults who respect the law, the lives and the property of others, contrary to what is taught – and not taught – in schools and by today’s culture?
Attempts to ban certain weapons will not solve the problem. Remembering and teaching ancient truths will help. This will require a different type of action from what we have seen in recent years.
Restoring these time-tested values is more likely to produce a different reaction than we claim to want, but cannot achieve by passing more laws.
Cal Thomas is a columnist and syndicated author. Readers can email him at [email protected].
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