Perspectives in Education: John Krull


That didn't take long.

Before the sounds of the gunshots had died away, perhaps even as some of victims breathed their last and while the wails of anguish and grief still could be heard at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., the sympathetic souls at the National Rifle Association and other covens of the gun lobby were telling us how to respond to this gun-related tragedy.

They instructed us that the one thing we shouldn't talk about in regard to the massacre of 12 innocent people by an unhappy reservist at a heavily armed military facility was the guns.

We should ignore the fact that this latest massacre undercuts one of the gun lobby's main arguments - the more guns there are present, the safer we are. It's hard to have more weapons than there are at a military base, but that didn't stop a troubled human being from ending the lives of 12 people who'd never done him any harm.

With a gun.

But we shouldn't talk about the guns. No, sir. No, ma'am.

We can talk about mental health issues, about quarantining the wounded in mind and spirit from the rest of us.

But we can't talk about the guns.

We can talk about turning our public spaces - schools, etc. - into mini police states with armed guards trained to do combat and paid and equipped at great cost to entire communities, states and the nation.

But we can't talk about the guns.

We can talk about controlling media such as movies and video games and doing more extensive background checks on people we suspect might be troubled - and, in the process, shoot some holes in the First, Fourth Amendments and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution so we can preserve our strange reading of the Second Amendment.

But we can't talk about the guns.

We can continue to dot the land we love with horrors. We can continue to bury children and mourn adults whose only offense was serving our country. We can continue to rack up body counts that nations at war cannot match.

But we can't talk about the guns.

Why can't we talk about the guns?

Well, because it would be wrong, you see. Because we love our guns. We love our guns more than we do safe schools, the people who serve our country or the peace with which each child should be able to greet the day.

No, sir, and no, ma'am, even when there is blood running in the streets and we're creating orphans, widows and widowers by the dozen and the score, we just shouldn't talk about the guns.

Instead of talking about the guns, maybe, just maybe, if we only close our eyes a little longer, all the pain, all the suffering, all the dying will just go away.

The beauty of being part of the gun lobby is that those folks never have to take responsibility for anything. No matter what happens - no matter how many people get killed and how much grief the gunshots produce - the gun lobby can shift its position with the agility of an acrobat.

If the shooting takes place at a school or a movie theater, the gun lovers say it happened because there weren't any guns there. If it happens at a military base, they say it's because the guns weren't in the right places.

Now, the gun lobby tells us that the only way for us to be safe is to walk around with guns in our hands all the time. It also would help if the guns we have in our hands mystically, magically also would identify the bad or troubled people who intend to do us harm before we even see them.

Unrealistic, you say? Well, honoring reality really isn't a big part of the gun lobby's agenda.

Protecting record weapons sales and profits is.

Whatever the situation, in the gun lobby's eyes, the problem never will be that we have too many guns floating around and too many of the wrong people getting their hands on them.

No, because if we ever acknowledged that there might be some truth to that, we might start solving the problem and saving some lives.

But then we would have to talk about the guns.

And talking about the guns would be... .

Well, wrong.

Just wrong.

John Krull is director of Franklin College's Pulliam School of Journalism, host of "No Limits" WFYI 90.1 FM Indianapolis and publisher of, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.


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