Expecting Less is not the Answer

One of the constant battles Second Amendment advocates face is the constant barrage from our anti-civil rights counterparts that kids and guns don’t mix. These are the same people who were successful years ago in passing federal and state legislation banning firearms from schools. This was done under the guise of providing a “safe” learning environment. The unfortunate reality is that I never heard of a student initiated school shooting until after those laws were in place, but that is a discussion for another column.

The main point I want to make in this column is that there is a growing movement in this country to expect less of our youth. Yes, you read it correctly … a movement to expect less. The firearms issue is just one example. How many times have you read a paper or turned on the news and there is a story about a teen driving accident tragedy? Normally within a very short time there will be a public outcry for raising the age for driver’s licenses.

The same problems have occurred with things like high school diplomas. Not too many years ago several states including Massachusetts began coming up with special testing requirements as a mandate to get the diploma. While there are arguments on both sides of that issue, the best one I heard against it was “Why don’t we just make the diploma mean something again.”

I also hear many schools are doing away with the honor roll because it makes other kids feel bad. What is the message there? Stop giving accolades to kids who do well and live up to high expectations so the kids who slack off don’t feel bad? Once again, expecting less.

Modern society has placed such an enormous safety net under our youth that one has to wonder how these youngsters would do if they were ever faced with real challenges. I would normally say real life challenges, but I’m not sure that applies anymore. Most American kids have no real knowledge of living under circumstances where their family’s survival depended on their daily input and ability to contribute to the best of their ability.

Getting to the point here, we have become a nation that coddles our children to the point of doing them harm.
Every time there is a problem with schooling, driving or anything else that pertains to the irresponsible actions by youth, modern society quickly moves to pass laws or policies that expect less of them and broaden the safety net. The end result is that these laws and policies actually encourage more poor results or behavior. By encouraging them not to live up to high standards we are setting forth a spiraling prophecy of failure.
Every time we raise the age limit for something, every time we add something else as a hurdle to obtain something we are actually sending the message that we expect less of them. Because these actions are not holding them accountable for their actions, but rather giving them more time or something else, we are actually harming them. As society continues to raise age limits and lower expectations we are beginning to produce an ever increasingly less mature young adult.

A case in point, in my father’s generation youngsters brought their guns to school. Some men have told me that they used to drop them in the principal’s office. Others say they simply put them in the coat rack in the back of the classroom. These people used to use them for school shooting teams or even hunting to and from school. Every one of these people I have talked to all say there was never a problem. In my own generation we were not allowed to have guns in school, but every boy I knew, including myself, all carried their Boy Scout knife, or in high school years a buck knife. Again, we never saw a problem throughout all of those years. Move to today and try to do either of those and it would most likely make the national news.

The one holdout to these societal trends can be found at our local shooting clubs. Ask a youth coach or a parent about a youngster that as entered the world of shooting sports. Nearly every one of them will tell you that it has changed the life of the young shooter.

These young people come into a world where they are trained and trusted to handle firearms and to do so safely. They are held to a higher standard than their non-shooting peers and always rise to that standard. These new shooters often find a sense of pride and maturity that they were not aware of prior to taking part in these programs.

In the summer of 2009 Governor Patrick’s administration held a public hearing to bring public shooting events and training programs under the control of the state bureaucracy through crippling regulations. Nearly a hundred citizens showed up to testify against the proposal. Many of these people were parents and coaches who related stories about how the shooting sports changed the lives of kids around the state. The message was clearly sent that they did not want more restrictions on these programs. They did not want the state to tell our young shooters that we expect less of them. It was because these programs expected more of kids that the kids were stepping up and living up to the higher expectations both on the range in and life in general.

Whether it is smallbore shooting, high power or even hunting with a firearm, every time we teach a child how to act responsibly and hold them to that standard we all benefit from the outcome. The rest of society needs to learn from our success with youth. By expecting more of them we get more, by expecting less we get what we deserve. If society does not learn from us and begin holding our youth to a higher standard will we eventually create a generation that is not responsible enough for freedom?

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  • 3/1/2011 1:48 PM Mark Jester wrote:
    Jim great article, just as an fyi, my wife just came across her fathers HS year book from 1950. As we looked through it for the first time, I noticed something very odd in it. The Pittsfield High School class of 1950 had a rifle team. A rifle team? There they were lined up in school the members of that rifle team each holding their rifle with coats and ties on, smiling for their picture. Those kids would be 80 years old this coming year and many of them are still alive here in the Berkshires. Some are still active locally in the shooting sports.

    Back in 2006 my daughter who shot in the youth archery league at the Lenox Sportsmen's Club, wanted to bring her bow and arrows to school (Pittsfield High School Class of 2006) to shoot in the archery segment of her PE class. It took an act of congress to allow her to bring her equipment to school. It had to be in a locked case, I had to hand it off at the school admin office and locked in a closet. At class time she had to go to the office and request the bow, she had to have the school’s police officer, yes the school has a police officer, carry it to class for her and then when the class was over, the whole process was repeated again. Wow, where have we gone in society?
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