Two days after a nationwide “Gun Appreciation Day” saw thousands of conservatives rallying in support of gun rights, Tennessee Democratic lawmakers introduced a bill this morning which could potentially restrict public school teachers from discussing guns with their students. The so-called “Don’t Say Gun” bill has already stirred a flurry of debate between conservatives, who say this is an attack on their basic rights, and liberals, who claim this is a simple effort to protect our children and streamline education guidelines in the state.
“This isn’t an attack on gun rights at all, but it will help us to stop teachers who might otherwise take it upon themselves to break from the state-approved syllabuses and push their own personal ‘gun agenda’ on our children” explained State Senator Willard James, author and sponsor of the proposed bill. “I personally hate people calling it the ‘Don’t Say Gun’ bill; that’s an exaggeration. Teachers can still say the word ‘gun’, we aren’t censoring speech or banning a word. But at the same time, we need to make sure that educators entrusted with the mental and moral development of our children aren’t going off on a tangent to promote the ‘gun lifestyle’ in a positive way. There are very clear guidelines on what can be taught in schools, and this bill will give the government a mechanism to effectively halt any extraneous glorification of guns in our classrooms.”
Senator James’ proposal comes two days after a nationwide “Gun Appreciation Day”; in Tennessee, conservatives rallied Saturday in Nashville as a sign of solidarity against what they see as a growing trend to oppress guns. “This is about basic human rights” noted State Senator Colby Mathers of West Tennessee; Sen. Mathers addressed reporters at Nashville’s Legislative Plaza this morning, just moments after the “Don’t Say Gun” bill was given a first reading and referred to committee. “I’m coming out in total opposition of this bill. [Sen. James] may claim that it’s a simple measure for enforcing educational guidelines, but consider the precedent it sets! What’s to say, should this become a law, that the next step wouldn’t be to redraft the state-approved guidelines and completely obliterate any mention of guns whatsoever? This is an effort to, over time, marginalize the significant contributions that guns have made throughout history, and to stigmatize the important place they occupy in society today. This bill is nothing more than a blatant, out-and-out attack on gun rights, guns, and gun supporters!”
Conservatives also noted that, under a loose interpretation of the measure, a teacher could be punished for answering a student’s question about guns if the question weren’t directly linked to state-approved topics. Sen. James dodged such accusations, explaining that he feels it is his moral calling to present such a measure now. “Personally, I don’t have any hatred in my heart against guns; I have friends who have guns, and I don’t care if people choose to have guns in their own homes, but I don’t approve of the mainstreaming of the gun lifestyle into everyday culture. That’s what bothers me so much. I just don’t want gun-owners and their ways being shoved in my face, is all, and I certainly don’t want my child being exposed to them. It seems like guns are everywhere today. You see guns on TV and in the movies, always being presented as cool and hip, and that makes an impression on a young mind. A child might be confused about guns, and having an authority figure telling them that guns are okay might sway them to aberrant behavior, might encourage them to experiment with guns. I’m doing my part to take a stand for the moral fortitude of the next generation, because enforcing one particular viewpoint upon the whole of a society which consists of countless people from varied backgrounds is what government was created to do!”
Republican State Senator Stacey Campfield of Knoxville, whose previous “Don’t Say Gay” bill failed to become a law in 2012, could not be reached for comment at press time.
Rally photo found at http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151350903362290&set=a.10150258659942290.343029.73949382289&type=1&theater.