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Commentary: When It Comes to Gun Law, It’s Time to Grow Up

John Hogeland
courtesy photo
John Hogeland

As a response to the shootings in Perry, Iowa, a Republican bill in the Iowa House to allow teachers to carry guns into classrooms is currently on the calendar as unfinished business. Adding guns to the classroom is not the answer.

I grew up on a farm outside of Lovilia, helping my family raise crops and livestock. I hunted and fished in the surrounding country. My father taught me early about gun safety and how to be responsible with a gun, lessons that I have tried to instill in my own sons. I owned guns then, and I own guns now. I am a patriot. I love my country and my fellow Americans. I don't believe our country is always the best, but I do believe that at times we can be.

On Tuesday, May 24th, 2022 a young man walked into a school in Uvalde, Texas and shot 19 children and two teachers, killing them all. We have all heard this story, unfortunately, over and over for years and now it has come to Iowa.

The recent mass shooting in Perry, along with every other like it, has ignited a firestorm of dissenting opinions about how to deal with these tragedies. I have some thoughts that I would like you to consider.

The concept of "I want" is one that children are born with before they learn to consider the needs of others. “I want” epitomizes selfishness; as adults we understand it is not an emotion that should ever override the needs of another human. As many of us learned in Sunday school, when becoming an adult "(we) put away childish things," because we learned that our actions impact others. We are taught to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

So now, we are at a point where - here in Iowa - anyone over 21 can openly carry a gun without a permit and anyone over 18 can buy a rifle or shotgun.

But “wanting” any gun—even the handgun the Perry shooter used—should not entitle everyone to have one. What we want, we learn as adults, is not always what we get. Nor is it what is often best for communities.

The assertion that owning a gun, any gun for any reason, is a constitutional right that makes them available to everyone, including the child-murdering sociopath who potentially lives down the street.

The children in the school in Uvalde, Texas had a right to life that was stolen from them. The people killed in Perry also had that right. Most adults would agree that these children had MORE of a right to live because there was so much in front of them. Most adults would give their lives to save a child.

And yet, we haven’t been able to place the right to life of these children before the desire for a gun. Instead, we are considering a law that will put more guns in schools.

Americans have rightly been proud that we value each individual’s rights, it is one of the things that has set our country apart. However, in recent decades, our views of our individual rights have become monstrously warped. We have slowly forgotten that rights come with a responsibility. A responsibility to consider what is best for our families, our communities, and our nation over our own desires.

At this point many only want to see their right to own a gun, regardless of the consequences for children. The consequences that guns are now the number one killer of children under 18 in the United States.

Children continue to die because their fellow citizens “want” to own guns, to carry them freely and have loudly proclaimed that it is their “right.” They are unwilling to consider the effects their insistence on this right has on others.

And so I ask you to think, at what point does a gun owner's “I want” become more important than the rights of an American child to live a full life?

To refuse to change our laws and our behavior around guns makes every one of us culpable in the mass murders so regularly visited upon our nation since Columbine in 1999.

Granted, responsible gun laws might not have stopped the Perry shooting. It will also require responsible adult decision-making, controls on who can acquire a gun, how it will be stored, and whether a child should be allowed to handle it.

But to react by putting more guns into the situation - into schools to make kids safer is ridiculous.

Heed the verse: We must put away the childish things. We must begin to act as adults when it comes to guns.

John Hogeland raises grass finished beef and teaches cooking classes at his farm in south central Iowa with his wife Beth Hoffman. You can find them at

The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Western Illinois University or Tri States Public Radio.

Diverse viewpoints are welcomed and encouraged.