Newmann: When enough is enough
“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” – Amendment 2 of the United States Constitution.
“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” — slogan of the National Rifle Association
We’ve come a long way since the framers of the Constitution entered the Second Amendment into the mix. Back then, according to some experts, a musket issued to militia members might have taken about 20-30 seconds to load and fire one shot. (Some soldiers may have been a bit faster, others slower.)
Fast forward to the present, and using a modern AR-15-type rifle without modifications, one might be able fire 45 rounds per second. Imagine if the colonists of the 18th century had that kind of firepower. The Revolutionary War would have been over in a couple of weeks.
With the above lead in, you might be expecting a diatribe for or against gun control. If so, no. That ship has sailed and is now constantly on stormy seas. We have more guns than people in this country. (Most estimates are around 400 million guns — and climbing; the latest census figures show almost 334 million folks in the U.S.) So, good luck trying to contain that cargo.
Rather, let’s take a look at some recent events involving the use of firearms — by kids.
So far this year, there have been 28 school shootings, including the latest (at least the latest prior to the publication of this column) where a 15-year-old boy in Michigan went on a rampage that left four of his schoolmates dead and seven injured. Closer to home, in Aurora, nine high-school kids have been shot in the past couple of weeks — ostensibly by other kids.
Where, in the not-too-distant past, youths might have settled a score by going behind the building and duking it out — there’s now a much more frightening alternative. And, while it’s certainly not the norm, it’s become more and more prevalent.
After each of these tragedies, the media asks why it continues to happen, folks in the communities say they can’t believe it happened in their backyards and politicians offer thoughts and prayers.
Then nothing happens.
And a similar event occurs. And we go through all the same machinations again.
Somewhere along the line we have to say, “Enough!” These are kids. They’re our future. And their educations shouldn’t be predicated on surviving the classroom. Or even having to go through metal detectors to get into a school building.
Where are the early warning signs? If they’re there, are they being followed up? Or is our system so stressed and stretched that troubled adolescents just slip through the cracks?
As far as the firearms: How are the kids getting them? It seems like (as in the cases in Michigan and in Sandy Hook) some come from the home. And others — well, who knows where they come from? Are there so many guns out there that it’s impossible to keep them out of kids’ hands? And are we even trying?
The “sanctity” of firearms in America is seemingly guaranteed by the Second Amendment. And they’re here in abundance. So it’s not about slick defensive slogans like “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
It’s about the reality of kids with guns killing other kids.
And, ultimately, about what — if anything — can be done to try to quell this sad situation.
Tom Newmann splits his time between Edwards and Queenstown, New Zealand. He has been going winter-to-winter since 1986. He was also a journalist in Missoula, Montana, at the Missoulian for quite a few years. Email him at email@example.com.