School shootings: heartbreak and no answers

Along with millions of us, I was in shock and heartbreak over the Newtown shootings.

Then I read about the 16-year old who committed suicide by gun in the parking lot of Skyline High School. This student has not been identified by the local press out of respect for the family, and properly so.

[See this story for a link to Help centers.]

I know nothing of this student and I don’t suggest or imply anything at all about this statement: I could not help but think, There but for the grace of God…some other student, with sinister motives, could easily have gone from the parking lot into the school at a time when classes were in session and shot students before taking his own life.

It wasn’t too long along that there was a sick hoax in which a former student threatened a gun shooting at Skyline.

I can only imagine the heartbreak of those families and friends in Newtown, and of the family of friends of this student at Skyline–and I can’t imagine this heartbreak very well. How can you, unless you have gone through this set of circumstances? Losing a child, which no parent is supposed to do–your kids are supposed to survive your death–happens through auto accidents, sickness and other circumstances. This is part of life. But to lose a child to this? Something so senseless?

How do you cope? There are few answers.

After a few days, the inevitable debate over gun control emerged.

I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and even in the 1960s and 1970s read the news coverage of gun deaths in Chicago. I concluded then that gun control made sense. My suburban schools were places I felt safe and there was no security. The drills we had were fire drills and the “duck and cover” for nuclear attacks (talk about a false sense of security). I simply didn’t understand why uncontrolled access to guns was permitted.

Yes, there is the Second Amendment. But the First Amendment includes the right to free speech, and we have laws concerning libel and slander. There is no reason why there can’t be laws to control aspects of guns.

When I moved to Texas, I learned a different perspective. I moved to Dallas, another urban environment. But drive west of Ft. Worth and now you’re in John Wayne country. It can take a couple of hours for the State Trooper or Sheriff to respond to a call for police. Guns are the only self-protection there, and elsewhere in the vast open spaces of the West.

But we don’t need to allow assault rifles in the hands of anyone other than the National Guard, and military and law enforcement. We need to allow cop-killer bullets.

We need homes that keep tighter control of their guns within the homes. This is a fine balance between accessibility for protection and security to keep these guns from a family member who takes the guns and commits mass murder or the unfortunate, troubled kid who takes a gun and commits suicide.

Only last week–before Newtown–I spoke with a friend who was awakened at 2am by intruders. He grabbed his handgun and chased them out of the house. The intruders do not know how close one of them came to being shot; the laser beam found its target only a moment before the intruder turned the corner of the hallway.

What are the answers for gun control? What are the answers for the mentally ill who think that mass murder is their way out of the world? What is the answer to help the terribly troubled teen, and there all too many, who feels there is no other way out?

My heart aches.

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