Yesterday, the local headline on yahoo was “Two Freshmen Found with Guns at East Bay High.” Thanks to a tip that a gun might be at school, the school’s resource officer locked down the school and discovered the guns before anyone was harmed. Within a few hours, the headline had disappeared from yahoo and the attention of America turned to other crises, or at least to cute videos of pets. But as a parent of a student at that school and a former teacher of East Bay High, I can’t turn away so easily.
Why would a student bring a gun to school? According to the article, the two 15-year-old boys brought a .25 caliber semi-automatic and a .38 revolver, both unloaded but with separate ammunition, to school. One gun was confiscated from the pants pocket of one of the boys. “School officials don’t believe the students planned violence. It appears they brought the guns for protection from unnamed others,” said the article.
Perhaps. Perhaps the boys were being threatened or bullied, and decided they would do some threatening of their own. If that was the case (and depending upon the severity of their intimidation), we might understand it, if not approve of it. “Never pick up a gun unless you intend to fire it.” I’m sure I’ve heard that somewhere.
On the other hand, my daughter (who is also a 15-year-old at East Bay High) tells me that the buzz around school and within her facebook circle is that they intended to sell the guns to other boys. Surely, this is worse. Were the buyers intent on violence? What would the headline read if the school’s resource officer had confiscated the guns after the arms deal? Who knows.
I, for one, am not surprised that several of the headlined stories from yahoo have already been deleted from the internet, as in “The page you have requested cannot be found.” East Bay High School is located in a rural community. A hotbed of social rest, you could say. How many times have I heard our principal declare that East Bay was an “undiscovered gem – our students are wonderful” or words to that effect.
Yet East Bay and its teachers and administrators are not at fault here. They did nothing wrong. They kept the school in lockdown while a sweep of the school was conducted. All according to procedure. With the exception of the two 15-year-olds, who “will remain in juvenile detention until November 29” (which, by the way, is 14 days from today), it appears that no one is at fault. One of the boys’ fathers said that he “knew his son had a gun but that it wasn’t loaded.” Clearly, it wasn’t his fault that his son brought a gun to school. Right?
What is my point?
My point is that this issue is very, very important. It is too important to sideline it to cute videos of kittens frolicking on bedspreads. It is too important to shuffle away like used clothing.
We will probably hear little to no more about these two students, though they will probably go to an “alternative school” for at least the remainder of this school year. The school district, already overwhelmed with expenses, is unlikely to install metal detectors. The sheriff’s department, already overworked, is unlikely to conduct additional random searches of lockers and backpacks for weapons.
And students? They will continue to get on the bus every day and do their homework. They seem to get used to swimming with sharks.
Parents? I don’t know about the rest of you, but I will have a hard time with this. I cannot control the society around my children. Frankly, I don’t know what to do. But I can at least see that we must not hide from the problem.