I have been so busy recounting the Twitter feed of our nation's chief executive that I have not been keeping up with one of the regular features of this blog: School Shootings. January 23 was a bad day in Benton, Kentucky. Two fifteen year old high school students were killed and eighteen more were injured. This was the eleventh shooting on school property since the beginning of the calendar year, and the fiftieth for the academic year. Some quick math suggests that we are currently logging such incidents at a rate of more than two a week.
Let me say that I have not been reading all the comments on these deadly moments in otherwise normal school days. I can imagine that a quick dip of my metaphorical toe into the rhetoric being tossed around would include the suggestion that if only there had been someone there to shoot back, things would have been different.
Things might have been different in Italy, Texas the day before if someone had shot the boy who ended up shooting the girl who ended up being airlifted to the hospital with a gunshot wound. School cafeterias tend to be pretty chaotic scenes on the best days, so I wonder what sort of marksman it would take to get off a shot without hurting any innocent bystanders. It would seem just as likely that armed bystanders would end up being part of the problem.
Which is why having gun-free zones seems like such a simple suggestion. Try to keep the flying bullets away from the place where the children are. Not a lot to ask of a civilized society. A civilized society with more than one gun for every person in the country? Maybe those terms are mutually exclusive. Expecting there to be a place where children would be free to concentrate on education and not finding cover doesn't seem like a lofty goal, but it's one that continues to plague us.
In elementary school, I have discussions with kids that go something like this:
"Why did you hit him?"
"'Cause he hit me."
"Why didn't you tell the teacher?"
"My mom told me that if anyone hit me that I should hit back."
If you exchange the verb "hit" to "shoot," you get the message being set over and over again to our kids. To adults. To America. Stop hitting.
Thus endeth the lesson.