Meet Frankie

The Colorado Freedom Report:  A libertarian journal of politics and culture.

The Colorado Freedom

Meet Frankie

How the Million Mom March Plans to Push its Disarmament Agenda in Our Schools

by Ari Armstrong, May 17, 2001

On May 13 in Denver, the Million Mom March distributed a book explicitly intended for use in government schools to "teach our children about the GRAVE dangers of getting involved with guns."

The book fails to differentiate between the criminal use of guns and the peaceable use of guns. It does not indicate that older youth may use guns only with responsible adult supervision. It does not recognize the value of guns for self-defense. Instead, it consistently casts guns as evil.

A pamphlet from Brighter Horizons Publishing introduces the book. It says, "Meet Frankie. He will teach our children about the GRAVE dangers of getting involved with GUNS and GANGS." Note that the two are mentioned as if they were inextricably linked.

The pamphlet continues, "Did you know??? ...An American child is killed with a gun every 2 hours, the equivalent of a classroom full of kids every 2 days." Of course, that is a lie. The figure includes not only legal adults ages 18 and up, but justifiable self-defense shootings. It also includes suicides when a teenager kills him or herself with a gun. However, it's inappropriate to blame the gun for suicides, as both U.S. data and cross-country comparisons show those intent on committing suicide can and do easily substitute one form of suicide for another. (Japan's suicide rate is about 2.5 times the suicide rate in the United States.)

The title of the book is, "Guns Are Not For Fun." The grain of truth in the title is that people should not play with guns as if they were toys. (This applies to adults as well as children.) Unfortunately, the title fails to take into account that responsible target shooting, gun collection, and so forth, CAN be fun. We could forgive the title by itself, except that it is part of a broader collection of quotes that consistently cast gun ownership in a negative light, again ignoring the vast majority of safe, responsible gun owners.

The book does contain a number of valid points. For instance, it says, "The lesson is guns can hurt just as fire can burn." True enough. I would even go along with a book title, "Matches Are Not For Fun." (More children ages 0-14 die of unintentional burnings than die of unintentional gun fire.) However, I would not expect a book to consistently demonize matches. Instead, a responsible message would be, "Matches can be very dangerous. Make sure you as a child never use them without responsible adult supervision!"

The book says, "TV and video games make guns look and sound real / But they do not teach us guns are something to fear." (We'll overlook the fact that the book is billed as a "story in rhyme.") Why "fear?" Why not "respect" or "handle responsibly?" It is a good idea, of course, to educate children about the differences between Hollywood and real life.

The book does offer a message of self-responsibility: "If you shoot someone you must take the blame / For causing all of that suffering and pain." Unfortunately, the book implicitly condemns the responsible ownership of a gun for self-defense. It states, "Guns should be but are not always locked up." That's not true, if our goal is safety. If young, irresponsible children are around, of course a gun should be locked up. However, that applies only to a minority of households. Households without children or with only older, responsible, well-educated teens ought to keep a gun ready for self-defense. Not only are many crimes deterred because criminals fear attacking an armed citizen, but guns are effective tools of self-defense if a criminal does attack. Mandatory storage laws are proven to dramatically increase violent crime.

It's too bad that the Brighter Horizons book mixes two messages: children should not play with guns (a positive message), and guns are useless for self-defense and capable only of evil (a false message).

It's simply not true that there are necessarily "GRAVE dangers of getting involved with guns." Children who learn how to shoot with a responsible adult are safe and they learn a skill that will keep them safer from criminal attack when they become adults.

I believe the author of the book (D.C. Dailey) is well-intentioned. The book could even be useful as part of a more balanced education effort. Based on the description in the pamphlet, the book "Use Your Brains Stay Out of Gangs" probably carries a more consistently appropriate message.

One point implicit in the pair of books is that gun violence in America is largely a matter of gang violence in our large urban centers. I'm all for helping kids understand gang violence is something to be avoided. Unfortunately, strictly educational efforts are not likely to have much effect, absent changes in policy to eliminate the violent black market in drugs.

One thing is clear: those who blame gang violence on guns are completely overlooking the roots of the problem. Those who suggest more gun laws restricting the rights of law-abiding gun owners will somehow reduce gang violence are simply fools.

The Colorado Freedom