Discussions of gun control always make me feel like people are missing the point. On my radio this morning, some member of Congress, probably a democrat, hinted that she believed trigger locks would have prevented the Columbine High School shooting. Um...right.

Because you can make a bomb out of fertilizer, it should be illegal to own fertilizer, right? And if we outlaw green, spiffy lawns, no one will make bombs, right? Good grief. No, you have to address the issues that make people so angry, unhappy, and frustrated that they are desperate for a change and believe the only way to be heard is to kill people.

So why are teenagers so distraught? What messages are we (media, teachers, parents, peers) spewing out that is creating sociopaths? Why aren't we noticing that someone's having a rough time of things before they get to the point where mass murder seems like an acceptable form of self-expression?

And why is it acceptable to dismiss these kids as freaks and misanthropes?

I'm not just waxing philosophical here. I used to have fantasies of killing my classmates. They were nasty, petty people. (I comforted myself with the knowledge that I would get a better job when I grew up. Reunions are grand.) While I was in high school, a kid from a nearby PA town walked into school, shot another kid in the head, and then waited calmly outside for the authorities. People exploded about what a monster this kid was. (Monster. I remember that term specifically.) Hey, what kind of a monster do you have to be to drive some kid to homocide?

And then there's Penn State, 1997. A lunatic hid on the student union lawn and killed a girl and wounded a guy with a high-powered rifle. It wasn't revenge, and she wasn't gunning for anyone specific. Lunatic, yep. ...Until I found out that a whole bunch of my friends were very close to this... Jill. Her name's Jill. And she's a person. With friends who love her very much. Friends who are my friends. But the justice system isn't even kind enough to decide she's a lunatic; they, with the rest of upright, moral, conservative State College, have gone for monster.

What Jill and that PA kid and those Columbine kids need is attention, guidance, and love, not legislated trigger locks. The scariest result of this attention to symptoms rather than causes is the McCarthy-esque witch hunt currently ravaging the schools. Put up a web site, say your teachers make you mad: get expelled. If administrators behaved like facilitators rather than disciplinarians, kids would address their concerns rather than put up websites. And maybe they'd then learn a little about petitioning for a redress of grievances.

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