Thursday, January 5, 2012

Kids, Guns, Schools -- I Hate Those Words Together

If you haven't been following the news lately, you may have missed this recent story about an 8th grade student who was shot and killed at his school on Wednesday.

Evidently, the student was carrying a pellet gun that looked like a real gun, walked into classroom, punched another student in the face, and wandered the halls with his gun in hand. When the police responded, they offered the student multiple opportunities to put the gun down but he didn't comply. The rest is sketchy right now, but it resulted in the student being shot and killed by police officers.

The boy's parents are understandably upset and enraged. They are claiming the boy should have been shot only once and simply disabled or taken down. The police have issued a preliminary statement saying that they believe the shots were justified.

So, this begs the inevitable question.... Who's right?

I can't imagine being the parents of a son or daughter who has been shot and killed at school by a police officer. I'm sure I would have a million questions and I'm sure my initial response would be one of anger and denial.

Likewise, I can't imagine being the police officers who had to shoot an 8th grade boy. I am friends with several police officers and I can tell you that they never, ever want to shoot anyone. They would much rather resolve the issue peacefully. The trauma of shooting someone is profound. It's not something they want to go through. Especially when that someone is a 15 year old boy.

Let's also consider the rest of the students in the school and the teachers, custodians, cooks, secretaries, counselors, paraprofessionals, aides, visitors and everyone else there. What a traumatic event this must have been for them. Many of them will probably require psychological counseling and will live with the sounds of those guns going off and of seeing the dead body of a classmate, friend, enemy, student.

All of this because one boy, aged 15, brought a damn pellet gun to school and refused to put it down when instructed by the police. Remember, the police could not identify it as a pellet gun and had to assume that it was a real gun capable of inflicting real damage.

I'm pissed off at the boy for being so stupid as to bring the gun in the first place. I'm pissed off at the boy for thinking that doing something like this would resolve some problem. I'm pissed off at the boy for refusing to put the gun down when instructed by police officers. Mostly, I'm pissed off at the boy for not giving a damn about anyone but himself.

Bringing a gun or any weapon to school is a selfish act. It is reprehensible and inexcusable. In the world we operate in, it's well known that bringing a gun to school is tantamount to walking into a firing squad. Unless this boy is mentally ill, he had to know that he carried the very real risk of dying that day. How sad and tragic that his life and the lives of others meant so little to him.

If the story is accurate, the police officers were justified in their shooting. Police officers do not draw their weapons with the intent to maim or injure. Once the weapon is drawn, the intent is to eliminate the threat the other person presents. I'm sure there will be a lawsuit, investigations, allegations, etc. However, the facts remain the same:
1. A boy brought a pellet gun to school.
2. He was asked to put it down several times.
3. He was shot and killed because of his refusal to comply.
4. Parents have lost a son.
5. Hundreds of lives have been impacted because of this boy's selfish decision.

Some days, I hate this world we live in.

1 comment:

  1. Roy, this happened in a school that used to be one of my yearbook accounts here in Texas. The only additional fact that I have gathered is that he was not shot because of his refusal to comply - he was shot because after being told repeated to put the gun down, he raised it as though he were aiming at the police officers.

    I agree with you; this is a tragedy that will affect everyone involved for a very long time.


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