It's been a while since I felt compelled to sit down and write about yet another mass shooting. Not that they haven't been occurring straight along. But with trucks ramming into crowds and "President" Trump's spokesdolt insisting that Hitler never used chemical weapons, I regret that these incidents have been pushed off my front page.
Which is unfortunate. Not because those acts of rage and terror are indistinguishable. It simply becomes difficult if not impossible to find a way to comment on all the rage and terror that exists in our world currently. Which is sad, since every innocent victim deserves to be mourned. Every bizarre miscarriage of our justice system deserves to be pointed out and corrected. “We can no longer call events like this ‘unimaginable,’ because they happen with alarming frequency.” Those are the words of Gabby Giffords, describing the shooting of a teacher and two students in a San Bernadino, California classroom. “Elementary school classrooms should be safe places, full of kindness — never horror,” Giffords said.
Horror is the best way to describe guns and school. As we creep ever closer to the anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School, we look back at eighteen years of angry debate over how to keep kids from getting killed at school. There are still plenty of folks who would like us to arm the adults in every school to turn back any attack. These are the ones who roll their eyes at the very notion of a "gun free zone."
In America, I can understand the cynical viewpoint that insists that there is and should not be a gun free zone. Guns are everywhere, and bad guys use them. The steady diet of good guys taking care of bad guys with mutually applied gunfire on TV and movies make it easy to imagine how such a heroic stand might be made. If only Karen Elaine Smith had been able to produce her concealed handgun when her estranged husband entered her classroom and popped a cap in him before he was able to carry out the murder part of his murder-suicide plan. Feel free at this moment to come up with a tough, tossed off line for Ms. Smith to muter as she blows the smoke from her barrel.
I'm too busy imagining what eight year old Jonathan Martinez was thinking just before he was shot. Then I try to imagine how the three people who died and the other little boy who was critically wounded wouldn't have been many more if there had been some sort of pistol-packing crossfire. And sadly, it isn't "unimaginable."