Friday’s Olympian [July 20] featured a front page picture from “Kids Boot Camp.” In it, a “game face” 5 year old grasps a M-240B machine gun. “It’s really cool. I wish I could have one” said a 7 year old.
As a parent and former teacher, I found these images and words appalling. Worse yet, this image of violence would become horribly distorted within hours. How could The Olympian have known that by Friday morning the breaking news story would involve a deadly shooting at the movies in Aurora? How indeed?
In this great nation, our vocal need for citizenry to bear assault rifles and Glocks, like adult security blankets, makes gun violence numbingly predictable. Add to this grim mixture tomorrow’s shooters today given shoddy schooling, abysmal mental health care, or overwhelmed parents, and we have a bleak recipe for more deaths.
You can pick the high school, the university, the movie house, and wait. Or, we can take aim at the real problems and act. Start early: ensure quality health care and family support for crucial growing years from zero to three. Follow up with child–not test–centered education in classrooms uncrowded so teachers can attend to each individual student. Develop meaningful high school curricula so that students can feel challenged, invested and ready for the world of university or employment.
It’s only a start, but with action like this our terrifying headlines can change to stories of success, our need for assault rifles can fade to a thing of the grim past.