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The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

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School shootings will not be stopped by legislation

On Wednesday, John Jason McLaughlin, a high school freshman, reportedly brought a handgun into Rocori High School in Cold Spring, Minn., and shot two students, killing Aaron Rollins and critically wounding Seth Bartell. The small community is shocked, and everyone is wondering how he obtained his handgun and why he chose to use it.

Clearly the person responsible for McLaughlin’s actions is McLaughlin. Still, something in society is out of whack. Kids killing kids is not natural, especially at the disturbing rate we see today. The culture that helps make the John Jason McLaughlins of our day possible must be addressed.

As we write this editorial, we still do not know how McLaughlin obtained his weapon. Many suggest that since his father is a deputy sheriff and McLaughlin learned to shoot with his dad, he must have obtained the gun from home. Obviously McLaughlin should not have had unsupervised access to a handgun, and that issue needs addressing, but pointing fingers right now is not constructive. While McLaughlin shouldn’t have had the weapon in the first place, he also should not have felt he needed to resort to using a gun to solve his problems.

How do youth become so upset that killing becomes an option for them to vent their emotions? In the aftermath, some will try to blame television violence, Marilyn Manson, gun laws or social exclusion. No one factor can be singled out as the essential cause of this shooting. However, children are dealing with a media-driven culture filled with violence and a lack of respect for human life.

From preliminary reports, it appears McLaughlin was sometimes teased at school. Teens can become trapped in a vicious cycle of personal insecurity and cruelty projected onto others. This is not new to youth, but it seems kids today do not have the same level of support previous generations enjoyed.

This all makes the role adults play in children’s lives increasingly important. Whoever raises children, the requisite care and empathy are too often lacking today. Young people need role models who show them how to be considerate human beings and deal with others who still resort to cruelty. Kids will become the examples we show them.

Teen anger, depression and desensitization to violence are pervasive problems legislators cannot fix. Neither is this just a matter of “family values.” These are issues society must solve. Young people need common human care, whatever situations they grow up in. It will not be a quick and easy process of groundbreaking legislation with a press conference to follow. It will be harder and take longer but we need to start now. Unfortunately for Cold Spring’s young men, we are too late.

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