I had planned on writing something about my current work in progress (and also my lack of progress), and comment on how sometimes a writer's worst enemy is him-or-herself. But while I was in Marysville with my husband this morning, a very nervous and excited radio newscaster blurted something about a shooting in progress at Marysville Pilchuck High School. Which is not far from where we were at the time.
Later that afternoon, the full story came out. A very popular young man, a member of the Tulalip tribe, shot a girl who'd evidently refused him a date, and some of her friends, then himself. It fills my mind and imagination, and I'm having trouble thinking of anything else.
Right now, two proposed gun laws are coming up to the ballot, and everyone is screaming about gun safety, stopping gun violence, etc.
No one seems to be asking how to just stop the violence, period.
When I was a kid, everyone had guns. Yes, okay, I grew up in Alaska, and the majority of the population still hunted for food and no sane individual went on camping trips, fishing, etc., without something capable of stopping a bear. But Dameon grew up in the lower 48, in a couple of different states and multiple schools, and has some of the same memories about guns from back then. Things like trucks with rifle racks, which likely as not had rifles and shotguns ready to go in them, being no big deal. Like a shooting club at school, with competitions and so forth. Like people going out target shooting with their kids for fun on the weekends.
I don't remember it being a big deal when a kid brought guns to school. Usually, it was because he or she was in the gun club. Any kid carrying a handgun to school as an attempt to be intimidating was treated with more contempt than fear. It was, at the very least, considered to be in appalling bad taste. It also was a badge of cowardice.
My point is: We were as violent as any other bunch of teens in that era, toward the end of the Vietnam conflict, with our share of gang wars, protests, riots, rebellions, drugs, and so forth, but I don't remember anyone ever shooting anyone else in school. I remember casual shootings as being pretty rare, period. Okay, there was the occasional "Spenard divorce", where one spouse shot the other, but even they were not common.
Guns were not a joke or a toy. They didn't give you bigger testicles, earn you automatic "respect", and no one cowered in fear from you if you carried one. If you shot yourself by accident, you deserved it for being stupid. If you shot someone else by accident, that was a tragedy, but people blamed you, not the gun. If you didn't know how to handle a gun, you learned how or you didn't mess with them.
That's what we were taught.
What changed? Where did the basic respect for life go? The understanding of action vs. consequence? Is it a lack of parenting? The popularity of 1st person shooter games? The level of violence in movies and on TV? Guns being demonized by society so that they seem glamorous toys, not tools that need to be treated with respect? Toxins in our food, water, air? Over-medication? Combinations of these things?
I don't know. I do know that the problem isn't guns, it's our society and, especially, how we're raising our younger generations. We're somehow destroying them, or allowing them to be destroyed. And no one is asking the right questions.
Or maybe it's just that we're afraid of the answers.