This time it was in Parkland, Florida.
Kid brings a gun to school and kills 17.
Let that sink in. Seventeen dead. In a school. Again.
As of this writing, no one’s put forth a “reason” for this killing, but one may eventually come. And, guaranteed, it’ll make no sense whatsoever.
“He was depressed (upset, confused, bored, angry, bullied, high, irritated…whatever), so others have to die.”
Right. Got it. “I’m upset. Others need to die.”
Maybe I missed it while growing up, but I don’t remember this as the way it’s always been.
I do, however, remember a time when problems at school might’ve led to some shouting and, maybe, even a shoving match. If things went much beyond that, the adults (remember them?) stepped in and a stomach-churning trip to the principal’s office followed quickly.
In that office, before second-guessing discipline became a national obsession, we had the riot act read to us by a very unsympathetic individual who rightly believed that his or her words were law.
Worse, if what we’d done was bad enough, a call home ensured that there’d be a second, and even more unpleasant, reading of that same act when we got there.
What this taught us was that we were still snot-nosed kids with boundaries to our behavior and woe-betide us if we ventured beyond those boundaries.
We still had bullies and cliques. Feelings still got hurt and there were always those who seemed to be on the outside looking in. But the thought of bringing guns to school to settle a score never even entered our minds.
But that was a different time. That was when drugs were what you took when you were sick and the worst thing that generally happened at school was someone might sneak a cigarette behind the gym. Today, there’s too much junk that’s too easy to get and the ones (parents) who should be coming down the hardest on the kids doing drugs are sometimes hooked themselves.
Back then we had heroes and heroines who did things that made us want to reach for the stars. Today, we have stars who are stars simply because they happen to have a pulse, consume oxygen, and are in the news.
Does anyone think that all of the sex we’re pushing on kids — earlier and earlier — doesn’t have an effect on them? Does anyone think that the current notion of sex without responsibility or commitment doesn’t hurt them?
Still, it’s preached to them daily. Do it. Do it now. Any time. Any place. Any age. With anyone. Then, let others get a peek via social media. “Something must be wrong with you” if you don’t.
Maybe the idea that there are no longer any absolutes — that morals, ethics, and principles are out of date — hasn’t helped. Maybe some of the problems are due to the fact that we’re so busy working to give our kids everything, we’ve forgotten to set aside enough time to give them ourselves.
What about a daily diet of television that treats our worst behavior as freak-show entertainment? Your alcoholic, incestuous, thrice-divorced, deadbeat dad’s sleeping with a drug-addled, bulimic fiance? Come on down, and let’s talk about it.
How about the hours spent playing electronic games that glorify violence or the hours spent listening to “songs” about killing cops and degrading women? Think they have no effect?
Right. That’s why ad agencies spend money by the bucket load to get their products in front of those same kids for a mere 30 seconds.
Let’s not forget the ever growing segment of society that refuses to admit that the individual most responsible for any action and its consequences can usually be found in a mirror. Many kids sure seem to have picked up on that one and have taken it to heart.
Maybe, just maybe, if we allow too many wrong things to happen, if we give baseness too free a hand, if we forget that good needs to be taught on a daily basis, then we’re going to lose a lot of kids. Unfortunately, looking at what’s happening all too often these days, I’d say we’re already well on our way.
And, no, I haven’t forgotten about the guns. They’re definitely part of an equation that needs to be solved, not ignored. No more “thoughts and prayers.” No more “Our hearts go out… .” A stop needs to be put to all of this. And this is a gun owner saying this. Life member of the NRA. Safety instructor. Hunter for 40 years. Want to talk? Want to explore solutions? I’m more than ready.
Do consider, though, that there’s not going to be any simple solution to this. Firearms were much more accessible when I was growing up. You could, as an older teenager, buy one at the local Western Auto. Neither was some kid (including yours truly at age 14) buying a box (or boxes) of ammunition considered strange.
But something’s changed.
And it damned sure hasn’t been for the better.
Larry Simoneaux lives in Edmonds. Send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.