Filed Under:  Columns, Opinion

The protection of schools

7th May 2012   ·   0 Comments

By Dr. Andre M. Perry
Contributing Columnist

At memorable points in our lives, we learn the sobering lesson that some things can’t be fixed. Our mortal hands can’t repair everything. We typically learn these lessons after death. I remember as a child pulling a daisy out the ground and plucking its petals off her stem. Soon after, I appreciated how much more the flower meant to the world — untouched. My futile attempts to reattach her petals taught me limitations of my humanity and the sanctity of life.

This past Wednesday, a 13-year-old boy, caught in crossfire, was severely wounded by a 17-year-old boy who told police, “someone else had opened fire first.” On Tuesday of last week, a 14-year-old boy was wounded in the crossfire of a drive-by shooting in Central City. On Monday, police found the body of 15-year-old Christine Marcelin, who died from multiple gunshots. Her former boyfriend from the same school, Brandon Adams was killed by gunfire the preceding Friday in a double shooting. In New Orleans, lives are snatched like petals off daisies. When school-aged children die and/or kill, we’re reminded how limited schools are in keeping children literally out of crosshairs.

School hours are some of the safest times in the country. Educational settings realize benefits of being “firearm free zones.” If many educators had their wishes, they would keep students in school 24-7. However, schools should not be considered islands from the community; schools are part of. Peace has greater utility than mathematical literacy, and school leaders should want their students to demonstrate these skills in the same manner. Consequently, schools should not try to immune themselves from the greater community — quite the contrary. New Orleans should become more like its safer parts.

The right to bear arms is an important entitlement and expression of individual freedom and self-defense. The second amendment is preserved for these reasons. However, schools and post-secondary institutions see rationality and self-awareness as the highest forms of individualism and defense. The rest of New Orleans can learn from her schools.

I agree with the sentiment, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” When it comes to moral and ethical discernment, all segments of society have a role in encouraging people to not use guns for conflict resolution. Data suggest schools are in the very least able to have kids respect the ethics behind a firearm-free zone. However, those same ethics must be reinforced outside the schoolhouse at interpersonal and structural levels.

Intellectual, social and emotional enrichment along with the policy of the firearm-free zone keep people safer. Still, eye-for-an-eye justice is being taught elsewhere and reinforced with policy. There are simply too many fools and guns on the streets. I wish inner-city kids had the same kind of access to college campuses as they do to communities with lax gun-control laws and jailhouse sub-cultures.

Young people should live more fully under the same commonsense policies that help make schools and colleges safer. Flower petals can’t be reattached, and mothers’ cries reveal the answer to she loves me; she loves me not games. We can’t bring people back to life, but we should be steadfast in our efforts in preventing unnecessary death. It’s time our social policies learn basic lessons of life and murder. We need sensible gun-control laws and sensible people to create them.

This article was originally published in the May 7, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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