Opinion | School shootings cannot be the price of 'freedom' – The Washington Post

Science & Technology

Tate Myre, 16, was a star athlete who had been good enough to play on Oxford High’s varsity football team as a freshman. Madisyn Baldwin, 17, was a senior who loved art and literature and already had been accepted by several colleges. Hana St. Juliana, 14, was a budding basketball player who was just starting her high school career. Justin Shilling, 17, was a senior who captained the bowling team and worked at a popular local Lebanese restaurant called Anita’s Kitchen.
They are all dead, killed this week in the latest of the school shootings our society accepts as routine. To four families suffering unimaginable grief, to the hundreds of other students who are traumatized for life, to a community that will never be the same, we say: Tough.
We say: Unlucky you.
We say: Too bad about your loss, but that’s the price of freedom.
I wonder if the people of Oxford, Mich., feel they have more freedom today than they did before Tuesday, when a 15-year-old sophomore allegedly brought a 9mm SIG Sauer pistol to the Oxford High School campus and fired more than 30 rounds at students and teachers — killing Myre, Baldwin, St. Juliana and Shilling, and wounding seven others.
Where have we heard this before? According to various published reports, the alleged killer, Ethan Crumbley, once was a happy kid who seemed to have undergone a change. He was troubled. Seemed alienated. Didn’t quite fit in. Kept to himself. Dressed all in black.
There are kids like that in high schools around the world. But only in the United States do we enable them to express their teenage angst by bringing guns to school and opening fire on the students, teachers and administrators they see as their tormentors. Only in this country do we make it easier for youths to get their hands on a handgun or an assault rifle than to work up the courage to ask a classmate out on a date.
The Post’s View: Four more dead children. How has this bloodshed become routine?
“If the incident yesterday with four children being murdered and multiple kids being injured is not enough to revisit our gun laws, I don’t know what is,” Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said Wednesday. She has charged Crumbley as an adult with murder, terrorism and other crimes.
But McDonald must know in her heart that no, it’s not enough. It’s never enough. The 2018 high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that killed 14 students and three adults was not enough. The 1999 Columbine shooting, with its 13 innocent victims, was not enough. Even the 2012 massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 first- and second-graders were killed, was not enough.
At this point, it looks safe to assume that no atrocity will ever be enough for our elected officials — in Congress, state legislatures, city councils — to pass laws tough enough to actually keep guns and ammunition out of the hands of would-be school shooters. And if, by some miracle, meaningful gun-control legislation ever did get enacted, such laws might well be struck down by the activist, arch-conservative six-justice majority on the Supreme Court. I’ll believe their purported “textualism” and “originalism” are sincere when they acknowledge that the Second Amendment was written for muskets and flintlocks, not AR-15s and SIG Sauers.
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McDonald did say that she is also considering filing charges against Crumbley’s parents. The boy’s father reportedly bought the pistol just days earlier. “We know that owning a gun means securing it properly and locking it and keeping the ammunition separate and not allowing access to other individuals, particularly minors,” McDonald told the Detroit Free Press.
Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Prevention and Policy, told The Post that “if you look at school shootings, the overwhelming majority are committed by students, and the overwhelming majority of those students have guns that they brought from their homes or a relative’s home.”
But it is unclear whether there is any Michigan statute under which Crumbley’s father and mother could be prosecuted. Even in states that have laws requiring gun owners to store their weapons safely and prevent children from accessing them, penalties are generally toothless. The National Rifle Association sees even common-sense safety legislation as a threat to freedom.
Meaning freedom to kill. And freedom to die.
We cannot be so callous that we see four promising young lives snuffed out and simply shrug in mute acceptance. If all we can do is scream, we must scream at the top of our lungs: Guns are not making us safe. They are killing us, and they are killing our children.