Farm Progress

In Parkland's wake, we must work together to find a solution

Reaction to the Parkland shooting demands we take positive steps to find a policy resolution.

Paul Penner

April 6, 2018

3 Min Read
FINDING ANSWERS: Parkland shooting hits the nerve of a tipping point. Can we find a way to work together to find answers to stop the carnage while maintaining 2nd amendment rights?wildpixel/iStock/Thinkstock

"...We’ve reached a new high in lows!” — Hawkeye Pierce, M.A.S.H.

The very moment the world became aware of the tragic events in yet another school shooting, this time in in Parkland, Florida, my reaction to the news was different than before. Previously, compassion and concern for the victims and their families was paramount in my thoughts and prayers.

This time, anger moved into the forefront of my thoughts while reading stories of heroism in the midst of the carnage. Although I was encouraged by the sacrificial acts of school officials, teachers and students, saving lives and rescuing students from the line of fire, it could no longer confine the rising swell within. Enough already!

It became an inflection point, harnessing energy which up until then was latent. The time for passive response is over. The time to act is now. As a grandfather of three school-age granddaughters, I am serious when I say, enough of this carnage!

Like yours truly, readers of this publication likely fall into one primary category. They are mostly rural, either working in agriculture or working in a related industry.

They are politically conservative, and are supportive of second amendment rights. They or members of their family own firearms and love to hunt. They are individualistic by nature, and teach their children the value of hard work and being self-sufficient.

Where do we go from here? Too much effort has been wasted on social media and elsewhere, debating the pros and cons of every proposal, each side demanding solutions which are unacceptable to their counterparts.

Not long ago, as an officer at NAWG, one responsibility included participating in the leadership training program Wheat Industry Leaders of Tomorrow. During the program, I received a copy of the book "Agricultural and Food Policy." One of its four notable authors is Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh, K-State professor emeritus.

In it, the authors suggest there are four essential questions to be addressed in analyzing any policy issue:

• What is?

• What can be?

• What will be?

• What should be?

Within that discussion, there are seven steps in the policy process from the initial perception of a problem through reaching a political solution:

• Public concern is voiced.

• The concern develops into a controversial issue.

• The problem is defined.

• Facts, myths and values are interwoven into the process. Surrounding the interaction of these three are three basic disciplines: economics, politics and ethics. In economics, price does the allocating of resources. In politics, it establishes rules to maintain a civil society by translating values into policy. Votes do the allocating. Ethics, based on a set of principles, guide the decision-making process to a solution. Conscience does the allocating.

• Alternative solutions emerge.

• Analysis occurs; consequences are theorized, estimated, documented and debated.

• Finally, a solution emerges through the political process.

As I write this, hearings are ongoing in the Kansas legislature relating to emerging solutions. I am hopeful these solutions address the concerns for safety of our children.

Penner is a Marion County farmer and past president of the National Association of Wheat Growers. His email is [email protected].

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