How many deaths will it take til we know
That too many people have died?
—Blowin’ in the Wind, by Bob Dylan
A Fatal In-Home Shooting
On Saturday, March 17, 2018, in Monroe County, Mississippi, a 9-year-old boy fatally shot his 13-year-old sister, Dijonae White, in the back of the head after she refused to give him a video game controller at their home. The gun belonged to their mother—and the mother was as at home in another room at the time! But the mother did not realize her gun was accessible to the boy, or that he even knew where she kept it. An aunt of the children reported that the boy thought the gun was a toy.
No charges have been filed in this “tragic case.”
A Fatal School Shooting
Early this morning, at 7:55 a.m., Great Mills High School in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, was the scene of another fatal shooting; this time, a school shooting. A 17-year-old opened fire with a Glock semiautomatic handgun in the first-floor hallway of the school, striking and severely wounding a 17-year-old female student and hitting a 14-year-old male student in the leg. According to mid-day reports, the gunman was shot by a school resource officer with whom he’d exchanged gunfire and was pronounced dead at the hospital. Early-evening reports backtracked this statement, saying instead that it is not known whether the gunman committed suicide or was indeed struck by the school resource officer. Nor is a motive known for this shooting, although it has been reported by national news outlets that the shooter had been involved with the girl. The St. Mary’s County Sheriff has maintained as recently as 11:08 tonight that the motive is not known and may never be known. The County Sheriff has also reported that two security cameras inside the school apparently captured the entire event, which lasted no more than a minute.
It wasn’t until after 2:00 p.m. yesterday that I learned about the morning’s shooting, when I opened a Facebook live feed from WJZ-TV, my local news station. The County Sheriff was delivering a briefing. I made the following comment on this feed:
“We don’t need armed people in the schools. We need to keep kids from getting their hands on guns in the first place.”
By 5:00 p.m., 29 people had reacted to my comment with emojis:
In addition, there has been an ongoing flood of replies to my comment, spewing the gun-rights spin on the story, and running the gamut from “God-given 2nd Amendment rights” to “it takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun” to “we need metal detectors and armed police and cameras in every school.” Many commenters invoked the fact that a good guy did stop the gunman, thereby keeping the number of dead and injured down.
One person even reminded me that just one month ago, the Parkland, FL police stopped the shooter. I made the “mistake” of replying to this person, with my own reminder that a Parkland school resource officer who was already on scene could have stopped that shooter sooner, if he had just entered the building instead of staying outside. Then, another commenter tried to tell me that “Parkland has a student body of 3000, and….”
The point this “genius” missed (and that I’m telling you, instead of him) is this: The Parkland school resource officer who failed to “go in” was located precisely outside the exact building where the shooter was. He didn’t have to go searching all 3000 students in multiple buildings; he was right there!
I do understand that the officer might not have been able to stop that shooter sooner—none of us knows what he might have faced if he had gone in. But because he didn’t go in, we’ll never know, will we?
The Facts That Nobody Is Talking About
I have purposely described both a home shooting by a child and a school shooting by a child, for a couple of reasons.
- Both shootings were committed by children. But instead of asking how these children got hold of a gun in the first place, my gun-rights “experts” stick to their lines (especially about the school shooter): they assume that the shooter is a bad guy who got his gun illegally. Never mind that in the home shooting case, the gun belonged to the mother; and that in Parkland, the shooter bought his gun legally. And, as heinous as these shootings were, the gunmen—technically still children—died too.
- My critics are quick on the draw when it comes to defending their right to bear arms. But they conveniently forget that rights come with responsibilities: keeping their guns locked up in a safe place, whether they’re at home, at a store (I still cry over one toddler who shot his mother in a store after taking the gun out of her purse), or at an airport (Baltimore—Thurgood Marshall Airport has had too many cases of passengers trying to put their often-loaded guns through carry-on X-ray machines).
The following questions keep swirling around in my head: Why should the schools/churches/malls have to arm themselves and build barricades and metal detectors? Why should the law-abiding majority have to kowtow to the gun-slinging minority? Why don’t parents know what their children are doing? What happened to personal responsibility?
I’m afraid the answers to these questions have disappeared along with, in my opinion, one of the most important human traits: Common Sense.