A fifth-grader fatally shot himself in the head Wednesday at the front door of his Los Angeles elementary school with a semiautomatic pistol his father had kept under the mattress at home. Parents rushed to the school to check on their children, police officers and detectives filed the necessary reports and teachers struggled to continue with lesson plans. All were at a loss for words.
Another day, another senseless tragedy.
We wring our hands, we avoid a growing list of potentially dangerous places, we install metal detectors, alarm systems, more lights, more fences. We take a deep breath each morning as our children leave for school, praying they will be safe. We sprint to our parked automobiles. We cower in our homes. We shake our heads at the growing audacity of armed criminals, at the apparent valuelessness they place on life, at the ease with which everyone, including a 10-year-old, can lay hands on a gun. We cannot easily comprehend the frightful potential of the millions of guns stashed in our closets, in bedside drawers, behind store counters and in school bags. We feel impotent and terrified. Even worse, some of us are numb to the senselessness. Anger--and determination to stop the madness--is a healthier response.