The events of last Friday, the school shooting in Marysville, just add to the confusion regarding what’s happening in our country. Why did this young boy have access to a legal firearm and what sent him over the edge? It’s just conjecture on my part, but passing a measure like I-594, closing the “Gun Show Loophole” in this state, probably wouldn’t have made a difference. That’s not to say that the polls don’t show most gun owners in the state favor the measure, it just wouldn’t have kept the gun out of the kid’s hand.
The shooting struck pretty close to home for my family as my nephew lives in Marysville and like the shooter and many of his victims, is a freshman in high school. No, he didn’t go to Marysville-Pilchuck High School, although at the time the television news started covering the shooting I wasn’t sure of that. I had to call my mom and she said he went to Lakewood, which is actually in Arlington, Wash. Still the relief I felt was soon replaced by despair as the news that several of the shooter’s friends were targeted and at least one, at the time had died. The shooter also took his own life.
We are still learning things – some of the victims were not only his friends, but were related to the him. The crime was premeditated– he had sent a text asking them to meet him in the cafeteria. He was a popular kid and not bullied and seemed to have a lot going for him. How do we comprehend his actions? It just doesn’t make sense. Could it really be as simple as a reaction to being rejected by a girl like some are saying now? Would that really send him over the edge like that? What’s changed in America?
Growing up in rural America, it wasn’t unusual for kids to come to school with rifles in gun racks mounted in their pickup trucks. They were just taking advantage of hunting opportunities before and after school. At Oroville it would have been unimaginable for one of our fellow students to go, get his rifle and threaten someone with it. Get into a fist fight maybe, but not try to really kill someone or multiple someones.
While school shootings certainly didn’t begin at Columbine, they must have been pretty rare back in the 1960s and 1970s (at least I don’t remember hearing of any back then). We had the worry about nuclear war ever present in the backs of our heads, but I doubt there is a kid in high school now who doesn’t think “what if” – what if one of his or her fellow students were to go over the edge.
Reaction to bullying seems to be used as the excuse, however after these types of rampages, as they are coming to be defined, we often find out there was no bullying involved.
As long as there is easy access to guns there will be the potential for some broken kid to think shooting someone is the way to take out his or her frustrations. I’m not sure all the mental health care in the world will catch all the potential Eric David Harris, Dylan Bennet Klebold or Jaylen Frybergs out there.
I don’t have the answers and with each school shooting it seems to get harder to even venture a guess. While the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings of kindergarteners in Connecticut started the debate again in earnest, like all the shootings before it was starting to just fade away, only to be taken up again like it did last Friday when Fryberg shot five of his friends and then himself.