Before I piss everybody off, let me state unequivocally that kids are kids and cannot be held fully responsible for their actions if the dividing line between childhood and adulthood is to mean anything. Kids are victims even when they’re the perpetrators. We should not charge kids as adults because…well, because they’re kids. Kids don’t fail, we fail kids.
In short, the things I’m about to say about a kid (whose name I will not use) are intended solely to point to the failures of the adults around him and society at large.
Have I made myself clear? Good. Proceed.
I’ve been keeping an eye on the horrific mass killing in Ohio. Details have been scarce, so I did a little light digging out of curiosity and what I found was not at all surprising. Here’s the youngest victim’s Facebook banner photo.
This was a 16-year old kid who, judging from his Facebook page and reports from school officials, was a real gentleman—a real gentleman immersed in the gun culture of the adults around him. (Okay, not only gun culture; there also appears to be some devotion to the Confederate flag which, to me anyway, carries with it a subtextual threat of violence, but let’s leave that alone for now.)
He had over 1,500 Facebook friends. I did some random clicking through on comments, posts, likes, shares, etc. and while there were many, many lovely photos depicting family and friendship and other hobbies (like demolition derby), it was never long before I found a photo that included a gun—guns for sale/trade, guns for hunting, guns just for show, guns for standing one’s ground.
I am emphatically not saying that these people deserved what they got. I’m not saying they weren’t decent people. I didn’t know them. I am saying that gun culture begets violence. I am saying that a 16-year old kid shouldn’t be thinking, let alone posting on social media about standing his ground with a gun.
I am saying that the fact that he was thinking about this was almost certainly a symptom and/or an instigator of the dynamic that led to this tragedy. Given that this has been his cover photo since January 9th, I have to wonder if the adults around him did anything to discourage his brashness on the subject. Or did they think they were protecting him by allowing or encouraging it?
I’ll leave you with two pieces on the correlation between gun ownership and gun-related deaths. The first does not differentiate between suicide and homicide. The second is for those who think that we should discount suicides when talking about this subject. Either way, guns beget gun deaths.