Beginning before the United States were the united states, schools have been an arena for violence. In 1764, four Delaware Indians killed 10 people in a Pennsylvania school. From 1840 until 1966, personal retribution shootings took place in schools throughout the country. In 1966, however, the complexion and complexity of shootings underwent a drastic, impersonal leap. After murdering his wife and mother, a University of Texas student barricaded himself on the observation deck of the U of T-Austin bell tower and killed 17 people, wounding another 31.
Killings continued in schools over the next three decades, mostly between jealous lovers, or over personal slights or student suspensions.
On April 20, 1999, the issue of school violence changed forever. At Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, two students began a murderous mission, killing 15 people and wounding 21. Then the semi-automatic era began. Eight years later, on April 16, 2007, a gunman on the Virginia Tech campus went on a rampage with two semi-automatic weapons, killing 33 and injuring 23 others. On December 14, 2012, another murderer entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. In his wake were 28 killed and two wounded. He was armed with three semi-automatic weapons.
Since that awful and terrifying December day, there have been an astounding 239 school shootings, resulting in over 400 shot and 138 dead. One of the latest is the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. There, an automatic weapon, an AR 15, was used to kill 17 students and teachers and wound 14.
While modern-era school shootings are not exclusively executed with automatic weapons, those implements’ ready availability has made it easier to be more deadly in a shorter time frame.
Children (mostly) killing (mostly) children is a truly disturbing phenomenon. That is what makes the goings-on of the Ansonia Youth Football League so baffling at best and so horrifying at worst. As a way to raise funds for a private sports group (which uses pubic school facilities), the Ansonia Youth held a “Guns and Roses Bingo.” Following is a list of the prizes: An HM Defense AR 15 (the same weapon used in Florida), a Charter Arms .38 special (in pink or green), a Mossberg 500 Combo 12-gauge shotgun, a Savage 320 12-gauge shotgun, a Heizer Defense LLCPS1 .45 Colt/410-gauge, an American Tactical 1911 .45, a Smith and Wesson Shield, a Savage 93R17 F 17 hmr, a Henry H001 22ls Blue, a Ruger LCP, and a door prize of a Cricket Youth .22 Rifle (in pink, tan, or black). The event was held at American Legion Post 353 in Ansonia, which itself confers a certain approval of it all.
The argument between pro-gun control and anti-gun control isn’t going to be won or lost in 900 words. It probably isn’t going to be won or lost at all. The NRA is the 10th largest lobby in existence, continually throwing money at legislators. And it throws a lot. In two years, the NRA spent over $900,000 in campaign contributions. It donated over $3 million on lobbying. And it laid down over $28 million on outside political contributions. The NRA has convinced susceptible voters that the government is out to get our guns and to leave us defenseless against tyranny.
I would venture to say no one thinks less of the current government than I do. But not even in my most paranoia-wracked moments do I think DJT is going to send his dwindling army of loyal minions to seize my beloved 20-gauge Winchester. That’s right. I own guns. Have for years. I used to hunt rabbits and for that a 20-gauge is an excellent choice of fire power. But there are exactly two reasons to own an automatic weapon. 1.) To turn money into noise, and 2.) To kill a lot of things in a very short time.
“Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” This is true, especially if those people are really angry and toting a weapon that holds 100 rounds of ammo.
The Florida legislature, a body which passeth all understanding, refused two weeks ago to ban AR 15s. It rejected an amendment to allow police to seize weapons from someone under a domestic violence injunction. Here’s what it did do. It called for a moment of silence in memory of those slain. Falling back to simply observing a moment of silence takes two things: gutlessness and a moment. Instead, it proposes that teachers carry concealed guns just like the air marshals do. In the height of the skyjacking era, it was suggested that airline pilots carry guns. Having many friends who are airline captains, I was eager to hear their opinion of this. “Well,” one guy said drolly, “It solves the terrorists’ problem of how to get the gun on the airplane.”
A person does not have to be politically correct or particularly sensitive or even much above totally oblivious to realize parents raffling off a cache of guns completely missed the target. It’s a huge insult to those who care about the increasing environment of violence among children. It is an immense, deeply felt hurt to the survivors of those whose only fault consisted of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And it’s enormously short-sighted if not down-right naïve to think guns distributed through a youth football raffle are somehow safe from youth.
Kids deserve better. But they don’t have the vote or the voice to affect a change. That is what adults do.
Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for the Troy Daily News and Piqua Daily Call.