The gun-debate voices yet to be heard

Young Second Amendment/NRA supporters should join the discussion

The author, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who served in Desert Storm and Desert Shield, lives in Chico and teaches English at Gridley High School.

As a local high school teacher and former soldier with combat experience in Iraq, I believe arming veterans and placing us in schools in the role of armed counter-attacker is akin to assigning a SWAT team member to teach my students Aristotle’s three forms of rhetorical appeals. My full-time job is to teach high school English; the SWAT team member’s job is to respond to armed attacks with lethal force if necessary.

Like most readers and cable news viewers, however, I find encouragement and optimism in the articulate, impassioned young voices that have sparked the inevitable post-gun traumatic event debate. We have read and heard the emergent voices of American teenagers ranging from emotional pleas to reasonable proposals (Aristotle calls these appeals pathos and logos, respectively).

The strongest of these articulate and knowledgeable voices originate from the student-victims of Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. They challenge the status quo and demand action. Unfortunately, they are engaged with the wrong opposition, the old guard of NRA, CEO Wayne LaPierre, and spokeswoman Dana Loesh.

Whom they need to engage are the young voices of the NRA and Second Amendment supporters from whom we have yet to hear. Missing from the debate are the articulate, reasoned and impassioned voices of student-leaders from our more rural Butte County schools. These young voices need our encouragement to not just join in but also lead the opposition discussion.

To many of these students, firearms play an integral role not only in their lives and families, but also in their schools (one local high school principal is heading a newly formed skeet-shooting team). Let’s get these students in front of the cameras and behind microphones from inside the halls of the Capitol.

Aristotle’s third appeal, ethos, refers to a speaker’s credibility. We all need to help our high school students realize they represent credible voices in this critical debate. Genuine compromise results when both sides of an issue are represented. All of our futures depend on it, perhaps more so for high school students.