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Schools should be place for innocence, not guns

In our post-Columbine world, we are saddened by the news of another school shooting, but we are far less surprised and shocked than we should be.

According to a Reuters report, the student came to Arapahoe High School in Suburban Denver, Colo. Friday armed with a pump-action shotgun and a bandolier of ammunition, a machete and three Molotov cocktails.

That scenario should be unimaginable, but sadly, it is not.

Eighty seconds of terror ended with a 17-year-old senior shot in the head and the teenage gunman, Karl Pierson, turning his weapon on himself after being cornered by an armed school officer.

What happened was horrific, but could have been even worse.

Given the way he was armed, it is obvious the 18-year-old had every intention of taking many lives that day.

All this happened a mere 8 miles from Columbine.

The event comes near the anniversary of yet another tragic school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.

The list is getting long — Sandy Hook, Columbine, Aurora, Virginia Tech, and even though it did not result in multiple shooting deaths, now Arapahoe is yet another reminder of how peaceful lives in a quiet community can be changed forever by a senseless act.

In his weekly radio address this past Sunday, President Barack Obama said, “We haven’t yet done enough to make our communities and our country safer.”

To no one’s surprise, he took it as an opportunity to call for more gun control.

The larger question, however, is what is so wrong with us that we need more control?

Why are we so out of control?

What does it say about us that a young man even has the thought that the action to take as the result of what he may have viewed as too much school discipline, is to carry a gun, ammunition and homemade bombs to school?

The debate about gun laws will likely go on and on so long as there are liberals and conservatives.

We are certainly not going to be able to settle that debate in a few words here.

What we do hope to do is to reach out to parents, guardians, siblings, friends, teachers and everyone in our community to say that all warning signs should be taken seriously and all concerns should be reported immediately.

According to another Reuters report, the White House has proposed spending $130 million to help teachers and other people who work with youth recognize the signs of mental illness and help people get treatment.

Of course, Congress would have to allocate the money.

The administration has also proposed spending millions to help community health centers hire more mental health professionals, provide more services and improve mental health facilities in rural areas, the White House said.

The most important measures, however, will not cost a dime.

Paying attention, showing concerns and reporting concerns is something we can all do.

All too often people in crisis show signs long before such a drastic and horrific thing occurs.

Too many times, friends and family say — in the aftermath — “I wish I had said something;” ” I wish I had talked to him;” “I wish I had intervened;” or “I wish I had sought help.”

In our new world, every threat and every warning sign must be taken seriously.

We encourage our entire community to be circumspect, watchful and if you have even the slightest concern about an individual that might be unstable, err on the side of caution and tell a school official, law enforcement personnel, mental health professional or at the very least a family member.

Officials said that the young victim in last week’s shooting was not targeted, but she was “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

However, it was the shooter who was in the wrong place, with the wrong thing in his hands and the wrong things on his mind at the wrong time.

The victim had simply gone to school that day.

It is the very place she should have been, a safe place, where she could learn, grow and shape her future.

It may nor may not take a village to raise a child, but it most definitely takes one to keep our children safe.

— Editor Jim Zachary