Derek Gentile: Saving lives is aim, not fewer guns


PITTSFIELD -- I think I’ve thought more about guns and gun violence in the past three or four years than I have during any other point in my life.

Obviously, this has been sparked by the spate of shootings all over the country. I’m sure most of the people reading this know that there have been 74 mass shootings since the one in Sandy Hook, Conn.

I have read a lot of stories about this, and about how to stop it. I hate to say it, but I don’t know if this type of violence can really be stopped completely. I’d like to think there is some way to slow it down.

One of the first things I suggest, though, is to stop demonizing the NRA. First, a considerable majority of these guys are lawful gun owners. Yet every single column or piece I read includes some way to try to thwart the NRA.

Second, I can’t think of an instance where pointing fingers and putting people on the defensive ever works. Can you?

Let’s be honest: They are entrenched and they have a very well-run organization. Whether one agrees with their ideology or whether one believes they are all right-wing nutjobs is immaterial. Getting into ideological discussions with pro-gun adherents wastes time. Do you want to win the argument or do you want to save the lives of kids? I’d like to hear from people who prefer to win the argument, because it’s a hollow victory.

Far from sneering at their philosophy, in fact, I would ask these guys if they have any ideas that would be useful. Maybe they would and maybe they wouldn’t. But if you can get them to be part of the group to take ownership of the problem, you may have a solution.

Yes, I’ve read their suggestions. And I’ll admit, years ago, the concept of armed police officers in schools didn’t sound right. It still doesn’t sound right.

But here’s something I’ve found. And I think it’s the most important thing about this issue. There have now been hundreds of mass shootings in schools since Simon’s Rock in 1992. Someone once asked me if we had learned anything from this.

I don’t know the answer to that. But I’ll tell you one thing: The crazy guys have learned a lot. They know that, for the most part, schools are nice targets. The buildings are often open and there are rarely people inside that are armed. School lockdowns have clearly done a lot to reduce shooters’ options. But the danger is still overwhelming.

Look. I know that the suggestion to put cops in schools is abhorrent to a lot of people. It’s not my favorite option, either. And yes, the NRA people would win the argument.

But man, if you care about winning the gun control argument, you’re looking at this the wrong way. The aim is to save lives. To save lives that have so much potential. That’s my aim, anyway.

As a short-term solution, it would be very effective, I believe. The crazy guys are mostly amateurs. Getting into a gunfight with cops isn’t what they’re looking for. Shooting little kids is their focus.

So, OK. Maybe some day, Congress can enact laws that can somehow restrict the acquisition of guns by people who shouldn’t really have them. But let’s say that happens. How long is that going to take? Five years? Ten? Twenty?

So ask yourself: How many shootings will happen during that span? Your guess is as good as mine.

To reach Derek Gentile:,
or (413) 496-6251.
On Twitter: @DerekGentile


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