Thirty-plus years ago, Donna and I decided to drive to Key West for a three-day weekend. We left our house in Tampa in charge of our 19-year-old son, who had just started his first year at USF. While we were away, he threw a party. When things got out of control and his guests began wrecking the house, it wasn’t him who got my hunting rifle from its hiding place in the rafters above the second-floor hallway and chased them away. It was my 10-year-old daughter. Naturally, we didn’t hear about all this until a few years later.
Yesterday in Los Angeles, a 12-year-old girl brought a gun to her middle school and shot two other students and a teacher with it. Police are saying the shootings were unintentional. A student who witnessed it was quoted as saying, “Someone decided to bring a gun, I guess someone was accidentally playing around with it … they thought it was a fake gun.” Yeah, witnesses are often wrong, but I think this one has it right.
In all the coverage of school shootings … by now on its way to becoming a weekly column in major newspapers … I don’t recall any speculation on how many kids might be bringing guns to school, unknown to anyone but themselves, either with the intention of shooting someone, or to protect themselves, or just as a goof. I bet it we knew the numbers, we’d turn into a nation of homeschoolers overnight.
There are as many guns in the USA as there are people. Most guns are kept at home; some under lock and key or in safes, some cleverly hidden but ready for use, some carelessly left out.
It’s nearly impossible to keep secrets from our kids. They know where the guns are, and even when they’re securely locked up probably know where we keep the keys to the padlock or where we hide the scrap of paper with the gun safe combo. The temptation to take the gun out and hold it, to invite friends over and show it off, to take it from the home to impress other kids at school, to have it as protection from bad kids, or … in the rarest cases, thank god … to use it to commit a crime or shoot someone … must be ever present in well-regulated American militia households.
It’s a testament to the goodness of most kids that they don’t sneak guns out of the house, or that if they do they resist the temptation to show it off or let anyone know they have it. I bet there are a hell of a lot of kids in the second category. There’s probably a kid packing heat in one of the middle or high schools in your town right now. And 99% of the time we’ll never know about it.
Something to think about, and who wants to bet I’m wrong?