Fearing for Gen Z

I have kids. I’ve tried to raise them right, but, you know, they go their own way. I’m afraid that I did a poor job of helping them understand firearms — not love guns, necessarily, but accept them as tools.

But Gen Z, the children and grandchildren we’ve produced between the mid ‘90s and today, has anxieties like nothing we’ve ever experienced … if you are to believe the media.

“About 75 percent of Gen Z reported mass shootings as a significant source of stress,” the American Psychological Association’s annual “Stress in America” survey said. To read any pertinent story about this generation, Google something like “Gen Z anxieties” and you’ll notice two things:

  1. Writers bend over backward — way, way backward — to praise this thoughtful, mature, educated, technologically sophisticated generation. They are “culturally diverse, tolerant and accepting” says naylor.com. One is left with the impression that God himself anointed this generation with elegance and intelligence. Or you see how well publications understand that their bread is buttered by younger people and so are cleverly pandering to young people’s smug sense of self-satisfaction and self-righteousness.
  2. Writers next begin listing Gen Z’s fears and the circumstances that make them anxious or fearful. These include 9/11 and the 2008 housing and economic crisis. Apparently, Gen Z is worried about getting jobs, about collecting too much debt, about terrorism, about inequality. “They are not shielded the way that previous generations have been,” writes the Sawtooth Consultancy Group. Say what? “They view the world as a rigged system where success is based on skin color, gender and parent’s status.”

Pardon me for being crude, but what a load of crap.

Growing up in Florida in the ‘50s and ‘60s, I remember “duck and cover” drills in case of a nuclear attack on Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, barely 30 miles away. I remember my father driving to U.S. Highway 1 to watch military convoys heading to South Florida preparing for war over Cuban missiles. I remember the Vietnam Era draft and learning how to twist a television antenna until one of three available stations became clear in black and white. Dad taught me how to use a crosscut saw and drive a stick-shift car and we went shooting.

My first kids remember the economic crisis of the ‘80s, the Sony Walkman, rewinding loose cassette tapes with pencils and the emergence of cable networks like MTV. They learned what “Rust Belt” meant and how to invest in IRAs and carry a boom box. They lived through the strike by the air traffic controllers, the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. When they would listen, they helped with yard work and other chores. Although my father grabbed a leather belt when I “talked back,” the era of children suing their parents had begun, so I was cautious to swat them only on the butt once — and that, lightly — with the palm of my hand. These are the Gen X and Millennial kids.

My grandkids are plugged-in Gen Z-ers, and I hope this doesn’t mean, as it appears, Generation Zombie.

The truth is, kids born today are no more sophisticated with the technology they have inherited than were kids born in the ‘80s, ‘90s or even the 1490s.

A black compact semiautomatic pistol propped against a vintage ceramic figurine of a nurse

Today’s kids say guns make them nervous. Although the media “praise” (i.e., suck up to) Gen Z, I find them rudderless in the tide of history. We will need to carry for our own self-defense — and theirs as well — until the day we die. (Photo by Rick Sapp)

In fact, many kids born these days would not understand a crosscut saw; would think such a tool belonged in a museum along with Davy Crockett’s coon skin hat, all the while shivering in disgust at the thought of killing a raccoon. Few of them fish or hunt or shoot recreationally. In fact, one story I read about Gen Z said that “guns make them nervous.” Egad!

This means that we and our children have raised a generation that cannot take care of itself. They probably couldn’t replace a leaky toilet valve or change a car tire or load a semi-automatic magazine, either, although they can easily manipulate computers and are entirely at home on Twitter. This means we will be carrying firearms for self-defense into our 90s or longer; that we cannot depend on the kids in Gen Z to protect themselves, much less us.

I’ll carry until six guys volunteer to carry me, but I’ll be doggone if I’ll change Gen Z’s diapers forever.