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SPOTLIGHT
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School safety

Published on -6/13/2014, 9:56 AM

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More than likely, most of us already are numb to news of school shootings. How else to explain the intense outrage expressed immediately after massacres such as Sandy Hook Elementary, where 26 people were gunned down including 20 first-graders, that dissipates rather quickly without anything meaningful altered at the state or national level?

Where gun control legislation has changed, including in Kansas, it has been in favor of less control -- not more.

We understand the influence of the National Rifle Association and its affiliates. We recognize the very real fear instilled in law-abiding citizens regarding what for them is the most important of the constitutional amendments. We realize the wide acceptance this simplistic statement enjoys: Guns don't kill people; people kill people.

But we also keep an eye on the frequency of young people killing other young people with easily obtainable firearms. That number is on the rise.

Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Times reported on a fatal shooting at a Troutdale, Ore., high school. There, a 15-year-old freshman brought an assault rifle, a handgun and nine ammunition magazines into the school Tuesday. He shot and killed a fellow freshman, whom authorities have yet to uncover any link between the two. He wounded a teacher before retreating to a bathroom and killing himself. While investigating the tragedy, police officers uncovered yet another student with a gun in school who was not connected with the incident.

The Oregon shooting was the 31st firearms attack at a school in the United States this year alone. Since the massacre at Sandy Hook 18 months ago, there have been 62 documented gun-related incidents at U.S. schools that have left 41 people dead. That compares to 17 deaths in 17 incidents during the 18 months prior to Sandy Hook.

Happening at the same time are the suicides at home committed by teens and young children with guns. The annual average for these type of deaths is 2,000.

"School shootings are part of a much bigger problem," said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "There are 86 people who die from bullets on an average day."

The Brady Campaign, of course, lobbies tirelessly in the halls of Congress on a daily basis. But they apparently are no match for the NRA. Why? For one thing, look at the scorecards of politicians. Many voters pay close attention to whether the candidate has a 100-percent rating from the NRA. Do they pay attention to that same candidate's child-safety or child-protection score? No such category even exists.

It strikes us that conversations should be taking place on some level. Thirty-one firearms attacks at schools this year means there is more than one per week. Surely that should justify at least a dialogue.

But the conversation is being controlled by the pro-gun lobby, so we don't have one. Elected leaders don't want to be targeted for appearing soft on the Second Amendment.

It should be OK for candidates to demand something be done to protect children at least while at school. That could be done without fear of the federal government attempting to pry the weapons loose of cold, dead fingers. The automatic extreme degree the gun lobby takes any reasonable discussion toward ends up shutting down the dialogue.

Will we the people, armed or otherwise, continue ignoring the frequent and tragic ends schoolchildren encounter by no fault other than being in school? Are we that numb already?

For the sake of our own children, we hope not.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

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