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Jewish World Review May 26, 1999 /11 Sivan 5759

Cal Thomas

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'A turning point for our country'

(JWR) ---- (
AFTER CASTING THE TIE-BREAKING Senate vote on a bill that would add new restrictions on gun sales, Vice President Al Gore proclaimed the measure "a turning point for our country.'' The bill isn't a turning point, but the school shootings -- the latest last week in a suburban Atlanta school -- could be.

When faced with a matter of principle, many politicians can usually be counted on to do whatever is expedient. Editorialists aren't much better. The Washington Post intoned: "There could be no shootings if there were no guns.'' Yes, and there would be no failures if there were no successes and no death if there were no life.

Liberal secularists continue to put faith in the doctrine that what is in the human hand is more important than what is in the human heart.

A panel of teenagers testified before a congressional subcommittee last week -- two days before the Georgia school shooting. All came from high schools shattered by the transgressions of classmates in the last two years.

Seventeen-year-old Stephen Keene saw three friends killed and five wounded, including his brother, during the December 1997 shooting in Paducah, Ky. Did Keene think too few laws caused the shooting at his school? He testified: "I believe the first place to look is within our homes. Education needs to start at home with strong moral and spiritual values, taught at home and practiced in the home. We can't expect our schools to raise children.''

Keene told the representatives, whose sessions open with prayer: "We must bring God back into our families and, yes, once again hang the Ten Commandments (in our classrooms) as a visible sign to everyone that there is good and there is wrong.''

Adam Campbell, 18, a graduate of Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., said: "Hate will cause wrong choices. If a person has a bad heart, you cannot change it. Only God can change a bad heart .... I feel that our schools have done as well as they can because you cannot change or control teen behavior. They have to make their own choices.''

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), whose husband was killed and son injured in a 1993 shooting aboard the Long Island Railroad, didn't appear to get it. She responded to Keene's testimony that "easy access to guns'' is a key element in school violence, and she urged her colleagues to pass more gun-control laws.

The kids know what the politicians don't. A society that respects neither laws nor life, because it acts as an authority unto itself, is not about to respect additional laws that seek to protect lives already downgraded into insignificance by politicians, judges, "ethicists,'' certain theologians, the entertainment industry, academia and the medical profession.

For nearly four decades we have taught two generations that only what they feel at a given moment matters. They have learned this lesson well, and now when some of them follow that lesson to a radical conclusion, we are shocked that they took us seriously. We might as well expect a wild animal to become tame once it is released from its cage because we are sympathetic about its confinement. Once unleashed, a wild culture is hard to control.

The beast within us all must be bound by eternal moral laws, or it cannot be made to obey temporal, man-made laws. No law can be enforced, from speed limits to murder, unless substantial numbers of citizens are willing to obey.

One solution of immediate benefit is school choice. Already passed in Florida and working in several cities, Gov. Jim Gilmore of Virginia says school vouchers are "something we ought to consider.'' It's fine to install metal detectors, but the last two school shootings began outside the buildings. Giving parents a choice of where to educate their children would improve their peace of mind and their children's safety.

Guns were available when I was in school, but no one ever brought one into the classrooms. We were taught virtues, not "values.'' If rules worked then, and for most of our nation's history, who decided they were no longer valid? They'll work again if Congress will listen to what our children are telling us -- because it's identical to what our grandparents told us.


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04/22/99: Those wild and crazy (Democrat) tax-cutters
04/16/99: Bubba’s contemptible behavior
04/14/99:Elizabeth Dole's choice
04/09/99: The taxman cometh
03/30/99: Human-rights terror in China
03/25/99: Yasser Arafat:
bad cop, worse cop
03/23/99: Bubba’s multiplied lies
03/18/99: Reinventing AlGore
03/16/99:Americans get bull while China shops
03/12/99: Bill Lan Lee: Flouting the law
03/09/99: Don't worry about your child, be happy
03/08/99:The ‘lady' is a tramp
03/04/99: Proving myself to President Clinton
02/24/99: New slaves to a new slavery
02/22/99: Character-plus
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02/17/99: The Clinton legacy
02/10/99: More a man, less a president

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