With last week’s shooting incident at a Bremerton-area elementary school fresh on everyone’s mind, today’s deadly shooting at an Ohio high school comes as one more reminder that the legislative panacea to such incidents, adopted more than a decade ago, just might be a fraud.
As this column is written, the count is one dead, four wounded and one teen in custody after having apparently given himself up sometime after having fled the school.
According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the suspected shooter has been identified. He’s a teen who attends classes at a different facility for “at risk” students. Charges are pending. The dead youth is identified as 16-year-old Daniel Parmentor.
A teenager described as a bullied outcast at his suburban Cleveland high school opened fire in the cafeteria Monday morning, killing one student and wounding four others before being caught a short distance away, authorities said.
A student who witnessed the attack from just a few feet away said it appeared the gunman was targeting a group of students sitting at a cafeteria table and that the one who was killed was trying to duck under the table.—Cincinnatti Enquirer
The nation adopted a Gun-Free School Zones Act originally in 1990, but when the Supreme Court struck down the law, it was re-written and re-adopted as the law in 1995.
That was months before the shooting in February 1996 at Frontier Middle School in Moses Lake, three years before the Springfield, OR shooting at Thurston High School, four years before the Columbine High School massacre in April 1999 in Colorado, more than a decade before Tacoma’s Foss High School shooting and nearly 15 years before the slaying of Birney Elementary School teacher Jennifer Paulson in Tacoma.
If this law was supposed to prevent school shootings, should it not be repealed because of its many failures? If a person had been hired with the specific task of preventing school shootings, that individual would have long ago been fired, based solely on the body count.
The Gun Free School Zones Act provided the launch pad for so-called “Zero Tolerance Policies” under which students have been suspended or expelled from school for drawing pictures of guns, for having tiny rubber guns from GI Joe action figures in their pockets, from talking about firearms, for wearing T-shirts that may depict someone in a hunting or target shooting situation, and so on. As this column noted in December 2010:
The law prohibiting guns in school buildings didn’t even stop Seattle Urban League President James Kelly from packing a pistol into Seattle’s Rainier Beach High School in May 2002 and flashing it during an argument with a community activist.
And this column told about the dilemma faced by a Northern California student named Gary Tudesko whose crime was to park his truck off-campus from Willows High School one morning after he and a pal had gone bird hunting prior to going to school.
Then there was this column, about the troubles encountered by then-16-year-old Demari DeReu at Columbia Falls High School near Kalispell for having left her deer hunting rifle in her car following a hunting excursion over the Thanksgiving weekend in 2010. It was in writing about Miss DeReu’s case, which was handled with the good sense that seems all-too-lacking among school officials the farther one gets away from rural America.
This column has said before and will repeat it now, this is still the United States, not a police state. Whatever else school authorities may be doing, one must seriously question whether these exercises aren’t subconsciously conditioning a generation of American youth to the notion that gulag law enforcement is acceptable. Of course, all of this is done with good intentions, but we are reminded that the road to Hell is paved with the same stuff.
Just like mandatory safe storage laws cannot guarantee that adults will lock up their guns and that youngsters will never get their hands on guns, the Gun Free School Zones Act was, and remains, a piece of feel-good legislation passed by gun prohibitionists not as a means of preventing horrible crimes, but to make it appear to the rubes back home that they were doing so.
This column has long advocated making firearms safety courses part of the public school curriculum. That’s no guarantee that school shootings will stop, either, but after having tried a gun ban approach, perhaps it is time to take a different tack, and being honest about expectations.
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