UPDATE—another student wounded in the Ohio school shooting has died, bringing to three the number of fatalities in the attack by a teen who opened fire in the cafeteria of a suburban Cleveland high school yesterday. The suspect has been identified as T.J. Lane; he is expected to appear in juvenile court today. Changes have been made throughout this story.
By NICK CHILES
An Ohio high school student packing heat gunned down five classmates yesterday. Yet another day in America when a child woke up, crawled out of bed, slipped on his backpack to make his way to school—and never came home, gunned down in the corridors of another school building by a crazed adolescent.
In Chardon, Ohio, so far three students have died and three others remain in the hospital. The shooter, T.J. Lane, is in custody. Officials have yet to discern a point to the shooting. But does it even matter? Is there any point that will make sense? I just can’t stop shaking my head at the tragic ridiculousness of America and our passionate love of guns. And as with all of our passions, of course we pass it along to our kids.
As I was reading coverage of the shooting in the New York Times yesterday, I stumbled upon a fascinating Times graphic listing every major school-related shooting to occur in the United States. A few points jumped out at me: In the 65 years from 1927 to 1992, there were just three major shootings. But in the 15 years from 1997 to 2012, there were 13 major shootings, including yesterday’s in Ohio. That comes out to almost one per year. There is a deep problem here.
Of course the gun advocates will come out in force to attack anyone who suggests that America’s love of guns is anything but wholesome and healthy—you know, the quintessence of America. After all, guns don’t kill, people do.
But I have a hard time buying the gun lobby’s bull when I have witnessed yet another chaotic scene at an American school, in a sleepy little town of 5,000 people in Ohio, where another unhinged young man got his hands on a weapon of mass destruction and turned some school slight or insult into an theater of death and tragedy. If this kid lived in a house or neighborhood or town where guns weren’t plentiful, where background checks and major forms of ID and waiting periods were required before you could possess a gun, I’m guessing that three kids would not be dead, nor his classmates lying in an Ohio hospital. Maybe he’d have said something mean about them on Facebook or took a can of spray paint and scrawled a few choice curse words outside the gym.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that pretty much ALL of these shootings have occured in middle and southern America, where gun ownership is a right as sacred as Sunday morning church services. These are the places where children from an early age know how to easily get their hands on a gun—because often the guns are stashed in their own homes. Of the 16 school shootings listed in the Times, the closest thing to urban America was Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Feb. 2008: A student walks into a classroom at Louisiana Technical College and opens fire, shooting two fellow students to death, and then commits suicide.)
Three more homes are shattered today in Ohio. Three more children never returned from school. With an average of nearly one major school shooting in America per year, one thing we can say with certainty is that sometime over the next 12 to 18 months, there will be another tragedy at a school somewhere in America. Probably in a place where people fight real hard for the right to own and carry their guns. Does this sound like where you live? Maybe it will be in your town.
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Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.