Of course, when it comes to tragic and preventable gun deaths, mass shootings are only the tip of the iceberg. We could fill our column every day with the names of people who shoot themselves in moments of depression, or shoot their loved ones in anger, or shoot their friends by accident. All of these are tragedies that would not take place, or would take place far less often, if there were not so many guns circulating so freely.
Then there is the particular horror of children who shoot children. On Saturday – two days after the horrific massacre at a community college in rural Oregon – an 11-year-old boy in a mobile home park in Tennessee allegedly shot his 8-year-old neighbor to death. He wanted her to show him her puppy, the local sheriff said. She said no. He fetched his father’s shotgun, which was kept, without trigger locks, in an unlocked closet, Jefferson County Sheriff Bud McCoig told The Washington Post’s Elahe Izadi.
Now the 11-year-old has been charged with first-degree murder and may be tried as an adult, officials say – as if that will make anything better.
The gun lobby has been successful in stunting the collection of statistics relating to gun use and the study of patterns of abuse, so we don’t know how many children shoot other children, even accidentally.
Guns don’t kill people, the gun lobby tells us; people kill people. But in countries without so many guns, arguments between children over who can pat whose puppy don’t result in gaping chest wounds. Only reform of our gun laws can begin to reduce the number of children whose lives are lost or ruined because of guns.
This was excerpted from The Washington Post.