On Thursday, Feb. 14, 1929, five members of the North Side Irish/German gang led by George “Bugs” Moran were shot and killed in Chicago, Ill., by four members of Al “Scarface” Capone’s South-side Italian gang.
That was then. This is now.
On Thursday Feb. 14, 2008, five students at Northern Illinois University were senselessly killed in DeKalb, Ill., when a former graduate and gunman dressed in a black trench coat walked into a lecture hall and open fired with a shotgun and two handguns.
As with the rest of the country, our hearts and prayer-filled condolences go out to the dozens who were wounded and especially the families and friends of Daniel Parmenter, 20, of Westchester; Catalina Garcia, 20, of Cicero; Ryanne Mace, 19, of Carpentersville; and Julianna Gehant, 32, of Meridan; and Gayle Dubowski, 20, of Carol Stream.
In all I’ve counted at least 14 different shootings at colleges or universities just since 2000, resulting in at least 60 fatalities and dozens more wounded
And the question we’re all once again asking is, “Why?” Why the escalation of murderous rampages upon our collegiate settings? What will stop the brutal butchering of our youth on campuses across the nation? What will give solace and security to students and parents sending their children away to schools, when they are potential shooting playgrounds? Will we continue to fight to reverse these appalling trends or simply surrender this social crisis to Congress? Will we allow another human hunting to headline tomorrow’s news?
By attempting to answer a few of those questions, I’m not pretentious enough to believe that I or others can wrap up this horrendous cultural dilemma in a trite and tight, neat package. At the same time, however, if we refuse to enter even the fray of discussion or contribute to any solutions, are we not guilty of propagating the problem? Edmund Burke’s words still resound, “Evil flourishes when good men do nothing.” There is close to each of us a high school, college or university, whose administration could surely use our help or support in some way to help secure their campus.
How we can better secure our schools
The website SecurityInfoWatch.com has done an exceptional job in outlining some solutions how to minimize violent incidents on campuses. Among those wise suggestions are: 1) Limit access doors to campus buildings … to one or two entrances. 2) Add a badge/card access system for students to enter the building and funnel them through limited access points. 3) Add an armed officer (private security or a law enforcement officer) who is superbly trained and able to respond to live shooter incidents. 4) Train all potential responders on the ins/outs of the campus so they have resources to know which building is which, what entries are, etc. 5) Train school staff how to deal with such events. 6) Find or increase budgeted security monies. 7) Address emergency notification systems. 8) Create widespread school security standards. 9) Conduct preparedness/response drills. 10) Most importantly, get rid of the “It won’t happen here” mentality.
Why kids kill kids
While implementing the preceding solutions will bring certain and immediate securities for our schools, we must equally address the deeper needs of individuals and society to reduce these acts of evil from ever breeching the borders of campuses. We need to understand what creates or exacerbates these heinous crimes and eliminate those negative infusions. As G.K. Chesterton said, “We do not need to get good laws to restrain bad people. We need to get good people to restrain bad laws.”
Unbeknown to many, GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has written several books while during his tenure as governor of Arkansas. A decade ago he wrote “Kids Who Kill,” which examines and seeks remedies for school shootings. In it, he points to many modern day factors that contribute to a culture of killing. Among them are a devaluing and disregard for human life; a greater parental disconnection and immoral license with their children; a fascination with antiheroes or gangsters that breeds cynicism, disrespect, antagonism and selfishness; a false sense of self-worth or a perceived incapability of obtaining status, notoriety or contentment; a thirst for adrenaline and extremes to acquire attention, as well as pushing the envelope of rebellion, chaos and brutality; the impersonalizing of society through such devices as the Internet and frequent transient shifts in employment, living localities and friendships; the legislation of subversive morality; an abandonment of a fellowship and moral center of community like a church; and a complete disregard for moral absolutes.
As I’ve said in different ways in different settings, we teach our children they are nothing more than glorified apes, yet we don’t expect them to act like monkeys. We place our value in things, yet expect our children to value people. We disrespect one another, but expect our children to respect others. We terminate children in the womb, but are surprised when children outside the womb terminate other children. We push God to the side, but expect our children to be godly. We’ve abandoned moral absolutes, yet expect our children to obey the universal commandment, “Thou shall not murder.” As James Madison once wrote, “Liberty may be endangered by the abuses of liberty, as well as the abuses of power.”
Religion and morality: Indispensable supports
When asked what a president can do, Mike Huckabee posited amidst his condolences for the victims of the NIU shootings, “I think a president ought to just encourage this country to once again to get back to their own moral center.” He’s absolutely right – just as presidents used to do.
Once upon a time, churches served as moral centers of a community. Of course, not any longer. And as Theodore Roosevelt once said, “In this actual world, a churchless community, a community where men have abandoned and scoffed at, or ignored their Christian duties, is a community on the rapid down grade.” Our founders concurred.
George Washington said in his Farewell Address,
- Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation deserts the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
Do we now believe we can consider morality and religion optional, without suffering civil and societal repercussions, despite the warning of our Founding Fathers like John Adams, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other”?
If Psalm 33:12 says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,” then what will be the state of blessedness for the nation that abandons God and his moral code of conduct?
(Chuck’s column now runs in syndication through Creators Syndicate. Subscriptions can be obtained by contacting Creators Syndicate. To check out some of his non-political articles, see Chuck’s WND archives.)