When it comes to our second amendment rights, what we’ve seen unfolding over the last week has been good for ratings but bad for logic. There are lots of suggestions for making our kids safer – arming teachers, disarming everyone, armed guards, locked campuses, better emergency training for the students – all of them theoretical and costly and unlikely to happen any time soon.

However, there is another solution few people are talking about. This solution has been employed in the past in our nation – a past that boasts almost no mass school shootings, a lower crime rate in general and very little rage surrounding our constitutional rights. It has been tried and tested over and over again. The data is irrefutable, verifiable and repeatedly shows the same information.

Bring back our fathers.

Nearly every societal ill America is currently experiencing can be directly correlated to fatherlessness. This is not the hopeful opinion of a right wing nutjob. This is a statistical fact backed up by the CDC and generations of easily accessible census data.

Simply being born into a home with no father or father-like figure increases a child’s chance of poverty and criminal activity astronomically. Here are some of the bullet point stats. All groups mentioned pertain to fatherlessness per The National Center for Fathering (all sources are cited and linked in the original chart): 

90% of homeless and runaway teens

71% of adolescent substance abusers

80% of adolescents in mental health facilities 

70% of children in juvenile detention

60% of rapists

70% of teenage mothers

Kids born to fatherless families are 44% more likely to raise children in poverty, twice as likely to commit suicide and nine times more likely to drop out of school than their peers from nuclear families. 

I only bring up the sad state of our statistics to make a larger point: fathers matter.

Does this mean single mothers or two mothers can’t raise a decent human being? Obviously (statistically) not. Nearly 100% of the children raised by a single mother do NOT go on to mass murder. What these statistics do tell us is that there is something vitally important about the male presence in a home. That is not even up for debate. The numbers don’t lie.

Clearly there are some caveats…not just any old man will do. An abusive father nets the same (and worse) results as none at all.

On a less tangible level, there is something unquantifiable about the presence of a father. We’ve seen concerned citizens and pundit after pundit asking “What has changed in America? Why are mass killings becoming so common?”. The second amendment hasn’t changed. In fact, the laws that are guided by the second amendment have only become stricter over the years, not more lax. The sophistication of the weaponry really hasn’t changed all that much in recent decades. The mechanics of firing haven’t changed all that much from WWII to now.

In 1950 Americans access to the same kind of deadly firepower that could kill dozens at a time that they do now. So why so many shootings now and not then? What’s changed?

Fathers.

In 1950 it was a rarity to know children from fatherless homes, particularly in minority communities. Most people assume that the black family was ruined by slavery, but black families were the bedrock of civilized society for many, many decades. As late as 1965 76% of black children were born to two parent homes. When we began to lose our fathers is when our decline into statistical ruin began.

Perhaps nothing could have changed the mind of the Parkland killer once he decided to become a murderer. Given the numbers, it isn’t hard to imagine that his life might have been drastically different if he’d had a father in his home. But it is the rare case that a child from a loving, stable home with two non-addicted, present parents turns to such depravity. Of course it happens, but the stats don’t lie. Missing fathers can lead to missing pieces of one’s heart.

We can argue all day long about gun control, but the only thing that’s changed about guns in our country since the days before “mass school shootings” is they’ve become harder to obtain. Clearly we’re focusing on the wrong culprits. You can take the gun out of a man’s hand, but you cannot take the hate from his heart. However, we soften those prone to hateful activity by advocating for more fathers in their lives.

We need to take a good hard look at how we’ve denigrated the role of fathers in our culture. At every turn it seems we relish in the chance to elevate women while silencing men. They are not welcome in our discussions about reproduction (even though there is no such thing without men), in economic or societal values in general.

Mansplaining, toxic masculinity, manspreading…maleness is ridiculed every single day. School has become all about making sure little girls are told they can be whatever they want. In the meantime, boys are being medicated for not being more like girls in the classroom. We celebrate those who raise children without fathers while those who choose the traditional route are labeled “basic, boring, heteronormative”.  Hollywood takes every opportunity to do so. There’s certainly no parade for the married couple who sacrifices to raise a family.

We are devaluing fatherhood without any workable alternative for our children. In the past disturbed children like the Parkland shooter may have had a father at home or in the church to turn to for guidance, stability and discipline.

As a parent, I’m all too aware of how much of my son’s character as a man is shaped by his father and not myself. Sure, I know how to put the fear of God in him, but there’s always a sense that I’m the nurturer for him and it creates a different dynamic between us. His father – the most loving, kind, sensitive man I’ve ever known – is the red line. There are just some lines my son will not cross if for no other reason than he knows he’ll have to deal with his father’s anger and disappointment.

There is an unquantifiable value and necessity to that relationship and when we’ve allowed that traditional understanding of family to flourish, we’ve been the safest.

I’m sorry if those who don’t reside within the traditional family structure are offended or hurt by these statistics. Numbers are numbers and they can’t lie. We must deal with the world the way it is, not the way we wish it would be.

And the way the world works is that young men and women who are guided by a stable, loving parental team of a mother and father are far less likely to carry the type of hate and mental illness that might lead to a Parkland situation.

Surely we can all get behind such a simple theme.

Make fatherhood great again.