One news story about kids and guns is already too much. But last week - well, there were just too many. A 3-year-old boy is dead. A 22-year-old college student is dead because three teens were "bored." Eight hundred kids had to be evacuated from their elementary school through a hole cut in a fence by a SWAT team.
Much of last week's news focus was on the school shooting in DeKalb County, in which, thankfully, no one was injured - in large part due to the calm and resourcefulness of school administrator Antoinette Tuff. In that case, the suspect is an adult: 20-year-old Michael Brandon Hill.
But in four other news stories stories, children - aged 3 to 17 - held or fired the weapons themselves. Two guns were left loaded and unlocked in closets. It's not clear where the other weapons came from, but one 15-year-old suspect had posted a video of himself to the social media site Vine back in May, in which he points a large, scoped rifle at the camera and smiles.
I'm not entirely opposed to guns. I am, however, opposed to both crime and stupidity. If you have a gun in your house, lock it the hell up. And while I respect the rights of those who legally own guns and use them for things like hunting, we clearly have a problem in this country. We need to have a sensible discussion about gun control, because the guns in this country are obviously not being controlled well. People are leaving them unlocked for small children to find. People who can buy them legally are giving and selling them to convicted felons.
When I talk about gun control, I'm not talking about eliminating guns from our country. I don't think that's practical or reasonable. But damn, can't we at least try to keep track of them a little better? A five-year-old boy took a loaded gun from an unlocked closet, put it in his backpack, and went to school with it, and charges aren't being filed against his mother. Seriously?! Nothing? Child endangerment? Nothing?
Take a look at these sobering stories from last week's news, and tell me what you think.
Sunday: 3-year-old Damon Holbrook shot and killed himself with a gun he found in an unlocked closet.
A 3-year-old Michigan boy found a loaded gun in an unlocked closet last Sunday afternoon, and accidentally killed himself with it. According to Dundee, Mich. police, the gun was owned by family friend Joshua Michael Greenhill, who lived with the family. Police told WXYZ News that Greenhill had put the gun in its case on the floor of his bedroom closet. Police said the gun was loaded and had a bullet in its chamber, but was not locked.
Greenhill, who has a Concealed Pistol License, has so far been charged with Careless Discharge Of Firearm, a misdemeanor charge. The investigation is ongoing, and Dundee Police Chief David Uhl told CNN that he expects more serious charges to follow.
Tuesday: Man fires AK-47 in a Decatur, Georgia elementary school; no one hurt.
School bookkeeper Antoinette Tuff is being hailed as a hero for single-handedly averting a potential tragedy at a Decatur, Georgia elementary by talking an armed man into surrendering to police.
Suspect Michael Brandon Hill reportedly fired six shots inside Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy and barricaded himself in the school's front office, where Tuff works. According to police, Hill was armed with an AK-47 assault rifle and had nearly 500 rounds of ammunition with him. He told Tuff that he was mentally ill, off his medication, and not afraid to die.
Hill is facing charges of multiple charges, including aggravated assault on a police officer, terroristic threats, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The lead detective on the case told CNN that that false imprisonment and "several weapons charges" probably will be included as well.
Hill had been arrested earlier this year for threatening to kill his brother, CBS News reported. Timothy Hill, Michael Hill's brother, also told Piers Morgan that in 2009, Michael set fire to the family's house while eight people were sleeping in it.
ABC News reported that Hill had obtained the weapon from an acquaintance, whom police are still working to locate, and that the chain of custody for the weapon may include multiple people.
The photos above are Hill's arrest mug shot, and also a "selfie" released by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office that Hill took of himself, posing with the weapon.
Hero: School bookkeeper Antoinette Tuff.
In the face of immense danger, Antoinette Tuff remained calm - so calm she even calmed the 911 dispatcher down,CNN reported.
Tuff shared her own story with the armed man who held her hostage. She told him that she had attempted suicide after her recent divorce, that she had a son with multiple disabilities.
"We all go through something in life," she said, her voice being recorded all the while by 911.
Related: 10 safety tips that could save your child's life
"I thought the same thing, you know, I tried to commit suicide last year after my husband left me," Tuff said. "But look at me now. I'm still working and everything is OK."
The Washington Post described Tuff's 911 call as "a portrait of poise, compassion, and selflessness."
"It's going to be all right, sweetie," she said to Hill at one point. "I just want you to know I love you, though, OK? And I'm proud of you. That's a good thing that you're just giving up and don't worry about it ... You going to be OK."
It wasn't until Hill was in custody and the standoff was over that Tuff let go of some emotion.
"I've never been so scared in all the days of my life," she told the 911 dispatcher. "Oh, Jesus."
About 800 students at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy were guided out of the school by teachers and staff during the incident. When concerns rose that the gunman may have had explosives in his car, SWAT teams cut a hole in the school fence and evacuated students through a neighboring yard, CNN reported.
Tuesday: Gun found in purse of 16-year-old girl at Atlanta, Georgia high school.
At the same time that the story was breaking that a shooting had occurred at an elementary school in Decatur, Georgia, just six miles away another gun was located in an Atlanta high school.
A teacher at the New Schools of Carver was notified in a hand-written note from a student that a 16-year-old girl had a gun in her purse, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The girl told police that she was holding the weapon for a 16-year-old boy. Both students were taken into custody.
Police said they didn't think the gun was related to a fight that had taken place at the school a day earlier. Police had been called to the school to stop the fight, which involved about 20 people. Police deployed pepper spray, paramedics had to be called, and 13 students and one parent were arrested, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said.
Tuesday: Charges filed against three teens for allegedly shooting this college student because they were 'bored'
On Tuesday, three teens - aged 15, 16, and 17 - were charged in the shooting death of Christopher Lane, a 22-year-old student at East Central University, where he was studying on a baseball scholarship. The promising athlete from Australia was shot in the back while jogging in the town of Duncan, Georgia.
Police say the three teens chose Mr. Lane at random. One of the teens, Michael Jones, age 17, told police, "We were bored and didn't have anything to do, so we decided to kill somebody."
Friends have set up a donation account on the website GoFundMe to help pay expenses so that Lane's body can be returned to his family in Australia. East Central University has set up a memorial fund to honor Lane.
The teens allegedly shot and killed a man because they 'didn't have anything to do.'
Unsurprisingly, some are trying to turn this into a racial issue: several news sites used an incorrect photo of Michael Jones, and FOX News initially said that all three teenagers were black. However, it's clear from local reporting that Chauncey Luna is biracial, Michael Jones is white, and James Edwards is black - demonstrating that (allegedly) being a cold-blooded sociopath is an equal-opportunity gig.
That being said, if you go back far enough into Edwards' misogynistic, obscenity-laden, racial slur-filled Twitter feed, you'll find that back in April, he tweeted "90% of white ppl are nasty. #HATE THEM" On the other hand, his girlfriend appears to be white. More disturbing by far are the reports that James Edwards had tweeted in the past about guns, violence, and being a self-described thug.
Edwards also posted a Vine video to Twitter of himself pointing a large, scoped rifle at the camera and smiling. Jennifer Luna, Chauncey Luna's mother, told Oklahoma News 9 that her son was in a "wannabe gang."
This isn't a race story. It's a horror story. It's a failure of parenting story. James Edwards is 15 years old. How did he get his hands on a weapon like that? Why weren't his parents following his social media feeds? Chauncey Luna, 16, is in many of James Edwards' Vine videos. If my kid's friends were posting videos with weapons in them, I'd think maybe it was more than a "wannabe" gang.
Thursday: A gun goes off in the backpack of a five-year-old at school; no one is hurt.
An unidentified five-year-old in Tennessee took a gun to school in his backpack on Thursday, and the weapon discharged at school while still in his backpack. No one was hurt, and there was no evidence of harmful intent, a school district spokesperson told CBS News.
Both the boy and his mother were taken into custody by Memphis police, and released hours later. Investigators said that the boy took the gun from a closet in his house and put it in his backpack, AP reported. Charges will not be filed.
Questions remain about how the school chose to communicate the incident to parents. According to local news, the gun went off at 7:38 a.m. The Memphis Police Department was notified at 7:53 a.m. that a gun was found, but the school didn't tell police until 8:20 a.m. that the gun had gone off.
The school district didn't notify parents using the school-wide automated phone system because, according to a statement, "it was an isolated and controlled situation that occurred before the school day started and did not involve any individual or school-wide threat."
A letter was sent out to parents some seven hours later, but most parents had already heard about it on the news. According to local news, the letter explained what happened and also reminded parents to check their children's backpacks each day.
OH MY GAHD. Seriously? This is what I'm supposed to base my children's safety on? That other parents are checking their kids' backpacks? How about lock up your weapons? Also, I think I speak for every parent in America when I say that we want to know if there's a gun in our kids' school, when it happens. We don't want to find out on the news, and we don't want to find out from a letter in our kids' take-home folder.
Photo credit: Stephens County Sheriff's Department via CNN
-By Joslyn Gray
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