Sandy Hook as Teachable Moment

We talked about the Second Amendment this week in my Civics classes. In a normal term we spend very little time on it, as there aren't many interesting legal questions involved - nothing like free speech or The Church of Lakumi Babalu Aye vs. City of Hialeah, that most euphoniously named of Supreme Court cases.

I teach on a rural Apache reservation in eastern Arizona, so we're pretty immersed in a gun culture here, with students routinely absent to hunt. Most of my kids live in households with guns, and it's the classic line that gun control means hitting what you aim at.

But the appalling and unfathomable slaughter of little children provided the perfect space to talk about the Second Amendment, limits on rights and possible changes in gun laws. No self-respecting hunter or target shooter, after all, needs a Bushmaster rifle that fires six rounds per second, nor a 30-round clip. Heck, I grew up hunting with a .410 and a .22, both with open sights.

The students came in asking about the shooting, so I knew it had been a good idea to revamp my lesson plans. We looked at the history of the right to bear arms, and the handful of cases, including recent ones involving DC and Chicago.

We all know guns aren't going away, but the students were equally quick to reject the idea of doing nothing, and settled on several proposals that would be both feasible and potentially helpful - limiting large-capacity clips, banning online sales, requiring a waiting period at gun shows.

No breakthrough proposal to report here, but if rural kids who hunt regularly reflexively understand the need for changes, then maybe the country is about to move....