SOCIETYWATCH

From the September 2016 Trumpet Print Edition

A problem with gun control proposals

The United States Senate voted down two competing proposals on June 20. Though these two proposals differed substantially, each was based on the premise of using the federal government’s terror watch list to determine which citizens have the right to own a firearm.

Senators couldn’t muster enough bipartisan support to pass either proposal, but a new cnn/orc survey shows that a majority of Americans think that those on a watch list should be restricted from owning guns.

While this may sound like a common sense solution, the American Civil Liberties Union has expressed concern that the Federal Bureau of Investigation could use such a watch list for racial or religious profiling. Currently there are 1 million people in the government’s Terrorist Screening Database. They are suspected terrorists simply because the fbi says so.

About 1,000 American citizens are on the current federal no-fly list, and 5,000 American citizens are in the Terrorist Screening Database. While most of these individuals probably have some connection to terrorism, tying the constitutionally protected freedoms of American citizens to the whims of federal bureaucracy raises serious concerns.

Stephen F. Hayes, a conservative journalist, was recently put on a terror watch list after he took a vacation with his wife to the Republic of Turkey. In 2012, Mississippi resident Wade Hicks found himself on the federal no-fly list due to a “clerical error.” Some believe Wade’s political views were the real reason the government blocked his right to board an airplane. Wade was a member of the Mississippi Preparedness Project, a nonviolent organization that advocates storing food for an economic emergency.

Currently, an American citizen can only have his constitutional right to gun ownership revoked if he is convicted of a felony by a jury of his peers. Granting a government agency from the executive branch the power to revoke this right purely on its suspicions of what that person might do explicitly violates the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It also violates the Fifth Amendment provision that American citizens cannot be “deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.”

The main reason Americans adopted the Second Amendment was to protect people from government tyranny. Yet America’s founders also knew that no society could be free simply because the people toted guns. They specifically stated that freedom could only be preserved if the American people held fast to principles of morality and the rule of law.

According to one Harvard research study, the rate of mass shootings in America has tripled since 2011. Past generations of Americans had more access to guns, yet committed fewer mass shootings. The reason mass shootings are increasing is Americans’ loss of virtue and morality. When the people are out of control, when personal responsibility and morality degenerate, freedom diminishes and tyrants rise. Micromanaging gun ownership won’t make America safe; it will only foster tyranny. The true department of homeland security exists not in Washington, but in America’s homes.

Expensive child care

The United States Department of Education released a report on June 14 titled “High-Quality Early Learning Settings Depend on a High-Quality Workforce.” The authors decried the low earnings of child-care workers in contrast to the important role they play in society.

The report, along with the journalists who picked up the story, was clear in its analysis: Child-care workers are extremely important to a child’s development, and the government should ensure they are paid enough so these jobs attract higher-quality workers.

But will paying workers more solve the problem?

The earliest years of a child’s life are crucial to that child’s later development. It is widely understood that, as one journalist noted, “good early-childhood education can help prevent later gaps in test scores and graduation rates from emerging between poor and well-off children” (Atlantic, June 14).

Child-care work is more involved than many people appreciate. Marcy Whitebook, director of the Center for the Study of Child-Care Employment at the University of California–Berkeley, said, “People tend to think of this as unskilled work, when in fact the work of facilitating the education and development of babies is every bit as complex as working with kindergartners.”

Studies show that low teacher-to-student ratios are beneficial for overall academic achievement, language development and thought processes. The greatest benefits come from those ratios being low in the early years of schooling.

What many overlook is that these exact benefits are maximized if the child is cared for not by a low-paid or even a higher-paid day care worker, but instead by his or her parents. The child can be educated from the youngest age, given the attention from someone whose primary goal is the child’s best interest, and offered the smallest teacher-to-student ratio possible: one to one.

America and all countries need high-quality child care. The real question is whether that care comes from someone who is paid to do it or from the child’s own parents.