Inside the Capitol

Monday, February 11, 2013

21313 VALUES

SANTA FE – Last week a girl was shot on her way home from a Chicago public school. It was a bigger deal than usual because the week before she had been a majorette in the inaugural parade.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was asked the usual question about what could be done about guns and violence. His answer was anything but the usual diatribe about violent movies and video-games.
Mayor Emanuel said, "We need to teach these kids values in high school." What? The interviewer didn't have time for a follow up.
Teachers used to sneak in some values education in school but then in the 1960s the U.S. Supreme Court said that sounded too much like religion so they drew some pretty sharp lines between church and state.
In my opinion we had quite good morals back then, even in Silver City, NM, where much of the student body was either children of miners or cowboys. Maybe they feared that we listened to too much Buddy Holly, Big Bopper. Roy Orbison or Elvis Presley.
My father was president of the National Education Association in 1951-2. The book he carried along with him every time he made a speech was "Moral and Spiritual Values in Education. He quoted from throughout the book.
The first sentence of the massive statement of the Educational Policies Commission of the National Education Association states that the purpose of education is the development of moral and spiritual values.
How far we have come from that belief system.
Twenty years ago, U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, Tom Udall, the Roswell School District and many other New Mexicans were part of a new movement called Character Counts which aimed at avoiding the divide between church and state created by the Supreme Court.
I wrote a lot about it and Domenici had a staffer assigned to get together with me to promote it more in New Mexico. It never happened but the organization still exists and could be a good answer to Mayor Emanuel's cry for help.
We've already talked about some proposed solutions that won't work. The first is registering guns. If 99 percent of all guns are registered, just as many shootings will occur.
If 99 percent of all people judged mentally incompetent to own a gun, in fact have no gun, just as many shootings will be carried out by the quiet guy next door, whom neighbors never thought would do such a thing.
If no criminals own a gun, according to records, just as many people will be shot.
If records show no on in the nation owns a gun, people still will be shot.
We must realize we live in a country where people love guns and believe that might makes right. Television would not broadcast 10 minutes of murder and mayhem before they tell us what else is happening in the world unless polls and focus groups indicated that violence is what people like to watch the best.
Behavior modifications such as Character Counts will help change this but it will take generations. Face it. Our entire country is still Wild West. Ask a foreigner. They've noticed. But they often admit to liking it also. Wild West trips, novels and movies are popular internationally. It is said; Hitler kept a Wild West novel on his bedside table.
Finally, why do so many people turn in guns when a city has such a program? Sometimes gun returners do so without receiving anything for their guns. They just say take them. I don't want them anymore. Gun dealers often will buy people's guns, especially if they don't have the particular gun in stock.


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