Thursday, October 24, 2013

Shooting Children

A few days ago, a 12 year old boy shot and killed his teacher in Sparks, NV.

The gun-grab debate is reignited. A few facts need to be addressed.

First, it is currently illegal for a 12 year old to purchase a firearm. That means that the child did not acquire the weapon legally. He did not buy it. Legally, he did not own it.

If his parents gave it to him, they are idiots.

My parents taught me that guns are not toys. They were kept locked up much of the time. Even if they weren't, touching them was not worth the ass-beating. So, we didn't mess with them. By the time I was 12, though, I knew where they were hidden. If locked up, I knew where the spare keys were stashed. If I had wanted to, I could have gotten them. I was just raised not to mess with other people's stuff, especially my father's guns and cameras.

A caveat is that my father did teach me quite a bit about both. I learned how to clear and care for both firearms and cameras from my father. I also learned how to shoot both, from him. I also learned that shooting a picture creates a long-lasting item. Shooting a gun can destroy something forever. That is something that needs to be in your head and understood before you shoot either. (This was the days of film cameras. Once the frame was shot, there was no deleting it. So, you don't waste shots.)

However, from snippets of information released about the parents, they seem rather responsible and reasonable people. If the gun was theirs, the child stole it. Consider that. The child was so desperate to acquire a tool that could enact lethal force that he stole it. That means he would have stolen a gun from his parents, his neighbors, or anyplace he could. If he had the savings and internet access, he probably could have found somebody to sell him one on the black market. The gun control laws already in place did not deter him. It is highly unlikely increased infringements upon the Second Amendment would have either.

Even if guns didn't exist, it seems the child would have used a knife, a club, a sword, or a pair of chopsticks to attack his targets.

Meanwhile, in California, we had another case of cops behaving stupidly.

Honorable police have a difficult job. They have rather strict rules of engagement and escalation of force protocols. Soldiers with combat experience are well versed in these concepts. To civilians, this means that police are trained to respond appropriately with the least amount of force necessary to quell a situation.

So why did these cops shoot a 13 year old boy who was holding an obvious toy? The simple answer is that they panicked and ignored the ROE and EoF protocols. If the boy was not pointing the weapon at somebody in a threatening manner (he wasn't pointing it at anybody, according to witness accounts), there was no reason to shoot him. There are claims that the "replica" looked "too real". That just hammers in the fact these cops need to go back to school and learn to spot the differences.

All of this recalls several topics.

The first one is bullying. Our kids are taught, in school, by various "government approved" anti-bullying programs, that they don't have a right to defend themselves. It's another person's responsibility. Those "other people" are perceived authority figures. However, those "authority figures" are limited in what they can do. In many cases, some feel so frustrated that they don't do anything more than ineffective administrative actions such as suspensions or calling parents.

Parents are often told they cannot do anything, but have to control their children.

Kids get teased, taunted, and physically bullied to the point something needs to be done. The aggressors are taught by these "anti-bullying" programs how to successfully bully in ways that the schools have no recourse. Schools cannot (legally) control what kids do in social networks outside of school hours and off school property. They shouldn't, either. That's the job of parents. They also cannot control anything that happens off school property. So, bullies attack their targets off school grounds.

It's been that way for decades. Heck, when I was growing up, we knew better than to fight on school grounds. As far back as the '70s, we took it to the park across the street, where the school employees had no jurisdiction. That was for mutually agreed upon confrontations. "After school, 330, in the park. Be there or everybody will know you're a chicken".

Kids had somewhat of a healthy outlet. They came home with a bloody lip or a black eye. Mom and Dad fettered out what happened. Parents met. Kids got punished and learned that fighting doesn't solve most disputes. Most of the time, there are better ways. Fighting can usually escalate the conflict. But kids had that outlet and the freedom to learn those lessons through experience. Today, some schools will suspend kids for having "burn contests" (also called "cut-down contests"). Today, kids are taught "sticks and stones may break my bones, but those will heal and we have Obamacare. Words, however scar my superego for life because we are no longer taught resilience or personal accountability".

So, some kid who has no outlet and no recourse hits his limit, steals a gun, and tries to shoot his bullies, or those who taunt him. Instead, he kills a teacher. That teacher was a war veteran who probably could have taught the kid some real resilience, if allowed to do so.

The best anti-bullying program involves conflict resolution, resilience, compassion, empathy, and self-defense. Many times my brother and I "talked out" our conflicts while wrestling each other. It works. You just have to have some rules. Headgear and mats help, too.

Still, around the world, there will be kids with guns. In some cases, yes, the kid stole the gun to do an unthinkable and horrible act that could have been prevented if adults acted like adults and paid attention. In others, though, it is adults who put the weapons in the kids' hands.

Around the world, you have places like West and Central Africa. There you have kids mustered into the armed forces. You have 12 year old boys fighting wars. We've seen some of  the same in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well.

In Iraq, I saw several incidents of kids aged 10-14, doing the work of soldiers. What do US Soldiers do when a 12 year old starts throwing grenades at us? We shoot him before he kills too many other people. It's horrible. It is regretful. It is pitiful that some adult is too cowardly to face us himself, so he sends kids to do an adult job. The cost is the child's life. I'd rather have shot the terrorist who gave him the grenades.

Here in America, we have criminals in street gangs who put weapons in the hands of kids. They are programmed by a culture of violence that, to earn "cred" and respect, and their keep, they need to kill somebody. It is just stupid. Real respect comes if they save lives and help others to succeed. Adding to the horror and violence is nothing less than pure disrespect demonstrated towards their parents, their neighbors, their siblings, their country, their "culture". If they wanted true respect, they'd go to school study hard, stay away from drugs, and make something or their lives. They'd become doctors, nurses, police officers, EMTs, librarians, or ethical car dealers. But they don't. They are lied to. Somebody puts a gun in their hands and tells them to kill.

Then you have cops looking at a 13 year old with a toy. They shoot him thinking he is just another brainwashed street thug looking for "cred". They murder him for having a toy in his hands. Now, that poor cop is going to have to live with that for the rest of his life.

Some of us know what that's like. But with some of us, the kids weren't playing with toys. They were shooting real guns, blowing up real bombs, and throwing real grenades, and killing real people. The sting and scars are the same. the difference is, in this cop's case, nobody would have died if he didn't pull the trigger. No lives were saved. One was stolen, just like the gun the 12 year old in Nevada stole. But a stolen life can never be returned.