December 16, 2012
A MODEST PROPOSAL
For protecting the children of America from being the helpless victims of gun violence, and for making them beneficial to society and the economy
It is a melancholy object to those who watch, on television and across the media in this great country, the grieving parents and classmates of dead children shot by a deranged gunman in Connecticut. Among the many questions they pose in response to this latest episode of supposedly random violence that took twenty-six lives in this one instance, twenty of them six- and seven-year-olds, all the others adults, all of them shot multiple times, is “Why?”
The answer I propose is simple, and I propose to further my answer with a solution that will put the question to rest. My solution will begin with children, but as its benefits become apparent will not remain with them alone but spread to the entire populace.
As to why, it is obvious that the children were shot because they were not armed and did not wear protective clothing. As in previous incidents of shooters who possessed the massive firepower available to any American who visits a gun show regardless of how crazy or how many violent felony convictions in his past, the victims were sitting ducks. This is clearly the fault of our society. How can we continue to allow people of all ages to pursue their educations from grade school through college, attend movies and political rallies or go shopping, without preparing them? As noted earlier, the solution begins with the children.
It is never too early to teach a child to shoot a gun. Some may argue that at kindergarten age, children are too small to properly handle a gun. The answer is, as I’m sure our fine gun manufacturers will agree, is smaller, child-size firearms. Smaller-caliber pistols fitted to small hands could still pack a deadly punch that would make a delusional mass murderer think twice before shooting his way into a school. Such pistols could easily be concealed in backpacks made more innocuous with bright colors and cartoon characters. Shooters with their own arsenals of rapid-fire weapons would not know which Minnie Mouse backpack might contain his final retribution.
Just as children could be taught at an early age to handle and fire small pistols, they could also be trained in the use of downsized semi-automatic rifles. Again, calibers would have to be smaller for ease of handling, but smaller and lighter ammunition would make it possible to exchange magazines quickly. Small children are dexterous and limber, and could acquire these skills with only a few hours of instruction.
Initially, the production of child-sized pistols and rifles, if smaller than 22-caliber to allow for ease of handling, would pose a challenge to our nation’s gun manufacturers. But they have proven time and again that they can rise to such a challenge. When assault weapons were banned they simply waited while their lobbyists convinced lawmakers that Ronald Reagan would have wanted his would-be assassin to have a more powerful gun. Child-sized guns would require production line retooling, but the vast numbers of children entering school would turn cost to profit in no time. Shareholders would be ecstatic.
What about those first moments in an assault on an elementary school before the children realized the situation and began deploying their defensive weapons? Clearly, the attacker would have the advantage. To counteract that advantage and give the children a chance to react, they will need to be outfitted with protective clothing. This again is easily done. Back-to-school (or in the case of kindergartners and first-graders, to-school) shopping will require the addition of Kevlar items to the shopping list, and perhaps Kevlar backpacks and armored lunchboxes, but in a consumer society such as ours these items are only a redesign away. No doubt the manufacturers of protective body armor would welcome the opportunity to make their items in small sizes. They would not have to be black, as adults seem to prefer, but could be made in the bright colors that appeal to children. The would-be mass murderer would be further confused by this protective camouflage. This could result in double layers of protection for the killer-to-be, limiting his mobility and giving further advantage to the children he has – he now realizes – so foolishly targeted.
Head shots could still be a problem, but American ingenuity can certainly produce for classroom wear a combat-ready version of a bicycle or motorcycle helmet of some material that is strong but light enough to limit neck injuries among all but the spindliest children.
Naturally, all this will make back-to-school shopping more expensive. A semi-automatic .22 pistol at around $400 may be more costly when it’s made smaller. Concealable bullet-proof vests also sell for around $400, but it’s what a grade-schooler would want to wear under a T-shirt. Kevlar helmets start at around $250. Backpack rifle plates are $150. But what price is freedom, after all?
First and second-graders may not understand at first why they need to be their own first line of defense against lunatics with guns. They will no doubt complain about having to carry guns and ammunition in their backpacks, even the smaller and lighter versions made for them specifically. They may complain that gun handling and target practice take time away from play or, as they grow older, non-shooting sports. They will undoubtedly protest that clothing that doubles as body armor is heavy and uncomfortable, and whine that they want to wear T-shirts and shorts to school the way they used to. They’ll say the helmets make their necks sore.
Parents and teachers, indeed, our nation’s leaders, will need to explain the circumstances to their young charges. You children simply have to understand, they must be told, that this is what’s required to preserve unrestricted gun ownership in America. We cannot place any significant restrictions on the right to own any and all kinds of guns, even though in the wrong hands they kill people like you, because the gun makers and their lobbyists tell us not to. The Second Amendment is too precious, even more precious than the Sixth Commandment. Once they realize the gravity of the situation, the children will no doubt accept their responsibility.
This will be good for everybody. Once child-sized guns are placed in the hands of first and second-graders and they are swathed in body armor, the benefits can only grow throughout society. There were almost 8 million first and second graders alone in the United States in 2008. These numbers alone will make the stock market rejoice. Some adults, especially in warmer climates requiring a minimum of clothing, may resist carrying guns and wearing armor. Of course, open carry laws are the answer in this case.
And as moviegoers, older students, mall shoppers, and virtually everyone else in the country who goes out in public acquires his and her own firepower and protective clothing, gun manufacturers and the makers of bulletproof vests will find their markets expanding exponentially. Production will increase. In a time of prolonged high unemployment, this can only be good news for our economy to say nothing of our precious freedoms.
Thank the children.