the REAL problem

(Hint: It’s not guns.)


A post by Florida Teacher of the Year Kelly Guthrie Raley has gone viral in the last 48 hours. In it, she cites mental health, violent video games, and “horrendous lack of parental support” as being at the root of America’s gun problem.

“Until we as a country are willing to get serious and talk about mental health issues, lack of available care for mental health issues, lack of discipline in the home, horrendous lack of parental support . . . (Oh no! Not MY KID. What did YOU do to cause my kid to react that way?), lack of moral values, and yes, I’ll say it — violent video games, which take away all sensitivity to ANY compassion for others’ lives — as well as reality TV that makes it commonplace for people to constantly scream in each others’ faces and not value any other person but themselves — we will have a gun problem in school,” the sixth-grade language arts teacher wrote.

Raley herself hunts and grew up around guns. “But you know what? My parents NEVER supported any bad behavior from me,” she said. “When I began teaching twenty years ago, I never had to worry about calling a student’s parents and getting cussed out, told to go to hell, or threatened with a public shaming — all because I was calling out their child’s behavior. Something has got to change.”


The below video is an example of the disrespect many teachers in U.S. classrooms face today.

Interestingly, at the same time parental support has decreased and problems like the ones Raley mentions have risen, the use of social media has increased. People around the world can converse more easily now than ever before, and it’s telling that, rather than increase tolerance and understanding, this communication is doing quite the opposite.

Take any article posted on facebook as an example. If you check out the comments section, you’ll see complete strangers verbally attacking one another — simply for having a difference of opinion. This is true for people of all backgrounds and religious creeds, all ethnicities, and all sides of the political spectrum. And, quite frankly, I find it disgusting. And painful. Why are people so rotten?

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you’re “right” or “wrong” on an issue. What matters is how you treat others and approach the debate.

How else are you ever going to gain any real insight on an issue? How else are you going to find solutions? Or, if you’re not there to understand and fix the problem, how else are you going to convince others that you’re right? Not by calling them names, I can assure you.

And also, your children are watching.

The truth is, we’re a broken nation, and the only way to fix our problems is to take a good look at ourselves. No, stricter gun laws won’t fix America’s problems — we need a miracle for that (or a million of them). But if we made it just a little bit harder for just anyone to pick up a gun and do god-knows-what with it, it could help save us from ourselves.

14 thoughts

  1. There are bloggers I read where I feel like we must be twins separated at birth. You’re one of them. Separated by about 20 years, also. There isn’t a word here that I disagree with and I can say that about a lot of what you’ve been writing lately. If there was ever an opportunity for the dueling sides to come together, it would be over Russia’s meddling in our elections. But instead, both sides are pointing at the other while completely ignoring inconvenient truths about their own side. It really is disheartening.

      • I don’t think it’s geography. There are plenty of Californians on the other side of the issue and plenty of southerners who want real gun control. In fact, most polls show that most NRA members are not in sync with NRA leadership on the issue.

        I completely agree that there are a lot of issues of societal breakdown in this country. The more I see people obsessively focused on their phones and not interacting with those around them the more I worry we have gone down a path from which we cannot turn back. I’d really like to come up with a way to outlaw smartphones. There’s nothing in the Constitution that says we have a right to those. ;)

      • As you know, I’m very much opposed to government interference in anything; government’s ultimate motivation is its retention of power and control So anything proposing exchanging more freedom for security is something I would argue against.

        It’s nice to finally hear that some people are making somewhat more sense. The video you posted the other day of Will Smith explaining responsibility is an example. I also appreciated the author of the article didn’t continue to malign those suffering from mental illness. Of course, I think of people suffering from actual mental illness when I use that term — not the sort of ‘mental illness’ that doctors make up to push their drugs. For a society that pretends to be oh so understanding, we’ve certainly marginalized mental illnesses.

        We’ve got it in our heads as a society that we’re not supposed to feel bad. Looks like Huxley called it pretty bang on. On that front, at least. Responsibility avoidance… rather than take the responsibility of teaching kids discipline (parents), or figuring out how to help kids learn (teachers/schools), we drug them. Then complain about the money Big Pharma makes. It’s utter lunacy.

        What you’re seeing in society is the product of deliberate teachings that undermine foundations of truth, God, and goodness. And the ones that seem the most ‘shocked’ and ‘outraged’ by incidents like this are the ones that’ve fought hardest to destroy these elements of our society.

  2. YES!

    Where are kids learning bullying? From the way their parents are with one another on social media and real life when it comes to politics, religion, and any other potentially inflammatory subject.

    And you’re right. Parents don’t teach coping skills, they don’t allow their children failure or the opportunities to learn there because it may hurt their feelings, but they have no qualms about attacking pretty much anyone else who dares to suggest that their child is less than perfect.

    And we wonder why we have so many kids who are either tools, can’t handle things, or have mental health issues that no one will acknowledge for fear they’ll have to admit they’re less than perfect?

    And yes, that’s just the tip of the iceberg as you’ve so eloquently pointed out.

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Kitt! I’m glad to know I’m not alone in my frustration. I know most parents mean well, but when we don’t accept responsibility for our own “stuff,” it inevitably leads to the way we handle issues with our kids.

      I almost feel like there need to be classes on online and social media conduct. It’s like this new technology took off and people just don’t know how to handle it. Certainly nothing productive comes from online political or inflammatory debates… I myself am trying to cut back on the time I spend on social media. When it comes down to it, most of it is a complete waste!

    • Thanks for sharing, Cheynoea. I agree with you regarding labels and the way we treat those who mentally ill. The fact is that we all need help. Life is hard, and how we react to hard times (and the treatment we get during them) can alter the course of our lives.

      You’re right that the world needs more love and looking out for others. If we could do that more, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in now.

  3. If your argument was sound, then how come we don’t hear about mass shootings in Europe? It’s not like their kids have less violence than ours. They play the same violent video games. Watch the same violent movies.

    Violent crime has actually been decreasing.

    If you look at all the factors – both from mental health (which yes, can be improved), the main difference between us and other countries is that we have easy access to firearms.

    Make guns harder to get – it will make it just more rewarding. And there’s been over something like 150 studies that show less guns are strongly correlated with less crime.

    I don’t think our society’s necessarily “broken”. I think that term is easy to label ourselves. It’s too often just an excuse. We just need to realize that guns aren’t the answer. The NRA has done a very good job at politicizing/propagandizing.

    • I appreciate your comment. You make good points about the damage of labeling. That was not an excuse, just a descriptor for how I often feel when I look at the world around me.

      You should read my last post about this topic (the predecessor to this one). Actually, I agree with you that it’s about guns — I was just trying to point out that the issue is complex. And whether violent crime is increasing or decreasing, it’s a fact that easy access to firearms makes violent crimes easier to commit.

      You also make a great point that making them harder to get will just make it more rewarding for those who get their hands on them. That said… There is NO way the United States will ever get all of its citizens to hand over guns. So what are we to do? Nothing? That’s where I’m at a loss. We’ve been doing nothing and gotten nowhere.

  4. First off I agree with you about the stupid arguments people put up on threads on Facebook. Verbal non civil attacks entrench people on whatever side they are taking. I have enough trouble trying not to argue with my own family. I also agree the internet/social network/and lack of parental toughness about respect and civility are some of the huge factors. Sadly, there will always be kids with no place to light in society, no place to get the kind of guidance and love they need. They are often handed off through the foster system foundering and acting out. They are at risk for all sorts of non social behavior. These are the kids who get ahold of the automatic weapons that are so easily attained. And for whatever it’s worth I do think rifles and non automatic weapons can be legal but still under strict back ground checks. But, I do feel strongly that guns that can shoot so many rounds in just a few seconds should be illegal. It won’t be a perfect solution but I don’t want to throw up my hands. I will make my voice heard by not voting for the cowards who are bought by the NRA. But, I would never bet against the NRA. They’re just to powerful. >

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