Wednesday, September 27

Recent Scares at Fletcher High School Sober Reminder of Gun Culture

With two kids in high school, I'm concerned about a lot of issues. Kids might dabble in sex, drugs, and country music. They might get injured playing sports or doing a social media challenge. They have to get into college. The usual concerns. Oh, and they could get shot in a mass shooting. Recent events at Fletcher High School are a reminder of the ever-present threat of mass shootings in America, even if the actual events were fairly harmless.

It began with a Code Yellow and a gun. Well, not a gun. A suspected gun that turned out to be a toy gun. As parents, we were assured the guilty party who accused someone of having a gun that was just a toy would receive severe punishment. I don't know the whole story: maybe there was a threat, maybe there was a joke, maybe the snitch knew the SWAT team would would do a takedown or his nemesis. In some ways, it doesn't matter, as teens have made false accusations and threats since teens have existed. In a gun culture, however, it's more real, even if it's fake. It could happen, and it has happened. Lots of kids have died, so any accusation is taken seriously, and the resulting fear is real.

The next even was a typical Fletcher v Sandalwood sporting event. Trash talk, rivalry, etc. It led to a fight and an overturned table (a la Jesus in the temple). Some say a gun fell to the ground in the melee, but most accounts focus on the loud noise of the table that caused people to scatter. Everyone at the game knew the stories of other mass shootings, so everyone ran. Luckily, no one was trampled to death. And there was no gun fired. But there certainly could have been a gun, with or without security, as items can be tossed over fences and players who arrive early likely aren't fully checked (I could be mistaken on that one). Besides, the parking lot is right next to the stadium, and probably half the parent cars are carrying. 

In a kind of crazy twist, we received a message that two vehicles that were somehow (maybe) associated with people involved in the fight were later pulled legally? over by police and found to be "legally" carrying assault rifles. I realize I might be alone in thinking the ownership of AR-15s should be illegal, but can't we all agree that no one has the need to be transporting assault rifles after 9pm on a Friday night? My assumption was that friends were called to pick up friends who were at the game, and automatic weapons came along for the ride. Like when I was in high school and ventured out with a friend to find the Werewolf of Walworth County and I brought my Daisy BB gun, just in case. Sure, an AR-15 with silver bullets might have made more sense, but I'm pretty sure assault rifles were illegal when I was in high school (which makes even more sense).

So we're gun crazy. Parents are afraid of losing their kids and kids are afraid of other kids. The best answer from politicians and police is to arm more people and arrest more people. Schools secure more buildings, limit more exits, extend reach to parking lots, etc. My kids decided they wanted to have the typical high school experience, and, unfortunately, that's what they're getting. For every mass shooting in our country (and there are a lot), I bet we have dozens of threats, hit lists, manifestos and all kinds of crazy-ass BS, all rooted in the gun culture. As it somewhat extends to college, the workplace, and the roads, I assume my kids will get the true American experience of paranoia throughout their entire lives. Maybe it will get so bad that retirement communities will eventually experience 2nd Amendment rights first-hand.

Or we could start fixing it now. Take guns away from anyone who is crazy, stop allowing assault rifles, and prosecute parents whose kids commit these crimes with family weapons, just as a start. In general, handguns and assault rifles are manufactured to kill people. Hunting rifles and shotguns are for killing animals, and I am fine with people killing animals.

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