Parents to blame in shootings by kids

The rash of kid shootings recently covered by the media is not sufficient to warrant fear of an epidemic. The shootings are shocking and horrible, but not enough to indicate that kids are suddenly taking up arms and starting a revolution. The only link between Jonesboro, Ark., and Springfield, Mo., or any of the other cities across the country where shootings by kids have occurred, is that the shootings involved kids and guns.
Guns are everywhere, from city streets to hunting grounds. Kids learn about guns at home and from their friends. In America, if not the world, guns are a way of life. But not all kids solve their problems with guns, even if they have easy access to guns. In fact, very few kids do. The sheer act of watching violence on television is not turning every kid into a killer.
Guns represent power and control, especially for men. One of the first toys a young boy ever plays with is a gun, either in playing soldier or playing cowboy. Most boys get their first real gun around age 11 or 12. It is culturally acceptable for these kids to spend hours shooting up tin cans and trees and even blackbirds and squirrels. It is expected that they will grow up and serve in the military with the willingness to kill or die for their country. The reason these recent kid shooting stories have caused such shock and paranoia is because very few kids ever engage in criminal acts, especially violent ones. These few cases recently reported are not sufficient to justify labeling the shootings a trend or some new breakdown in the youth of America. Kids have been playing with guns for years.
Bill McCollum (R-Fla.), recently submitted a bill which passed the House last May but awaits further action by the full Congress. In this bill, he wants to treat 13-year-olds as adults. He also calls America’s teenagers “the most violent criminals on the face of the earth.” Texas state representative Jim Pitts wants to introduce a bill calling for the death penalty for 11-year-olds and for 10-year-olds to be tried as adults. He believes the days of “Leave It to Beaver” are over. Sentencing kids to death is a ridiculous and unnecessary response to kids with guns. Parents are the problem, not their kids.
Morality starts in the home. As long as society continues to socialize young males as future John Waynes, where being a man means being tough and not afraid to kill, then society must accept the risk that somewhere some kid is going to go too far, especially without guidance from parents or school. Kids are not born genetically programmed to kill. It’s environmental and it’s social. Guns are viewed as a symbol of pride, unity, fun and tradition. It is not uncommon to see kids wearing camouflage T-shirts given to them by happy smiling parents.
One solution is very simple: Get rid of the guns. Since this is impossible, teaching responsible use of guns is the next solution. Beyond safety, teaching kids it is wrong to solve their problems by guns or other forms of violence is what is needed. If a kid is emotionally imbalanced or mentally ill in some way, this is an isolated incident and should be recognized as such. When shootings by kids become frequent, access to guns is obviously too easy, and parents have failed to teach their kids conflict resolution by peaceful means.