Thursday morning, Starkville police arrested a student at Starkville High School for carrying a gun onto campus. The school was locked down for about 15 minutes while police located and secured the weapon. No one was injured.
It is an incident that will likely be quickly forgotten.
If the outcome had been tragic, it would not have been quickly forgotten, but it may have been quickly ignored, as more than 20 years of school shootings have sadly demonstrated.
Mississippi hasn’t had a school shooting since 1997, when a student at Pearl High School shot and killed his mother before going to the school and shooting nine people, killing two students.
Two years later, the nation was traumatized when two students shot and killed 13 people, including 12 students, at Columbine High School in Colorado.
In 2012, the unthinkable happened. At Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, a gunman killed 26 people, 20 of them between the ages of 6 and 7.
A healthy society would have responsibly responded to this sort of carnage.
But over the past two decades, virtually all gun legislation passed has made these types of tragedies more likely to happen, not less — from concealed carry to open carry to permitless carry. Gun “rights” have been expanded. None of them have been restricted.
If the murder of 20 children aged 6 and 7 didn’t prompt meaningful legislation or societal change, likely nothing will.
Today, a 17-year-old can carry a military-style weapon to a protest, engage in an armed confrontation, kill two people, walk away scot-free and be hailed as a hero among many Americans.
As of now, schools are one of the few places where guns are not permitted. But it’s fair to wonder how long even those restrictions will remain in place. Even now, there may be some legislator — perhaps a Mississippi legislator — who is preparing to secure “the 2nd Amendment rights” of children.
This is who we are, what we have become.
If we are to protect our children, it will fall to us individually.
Thursday’s incident at Starkville High School did not result in a tragedy, but given the circumstances it is less than reassuring.
The student created a post on Instagram, with a photo of himself holding a small handgun along with the text, “Where you play you gone lay,” followed by blood drop and gun emojis.
A tragic event was most likely averted because the student tagged Starkville High School, but we wonder if he hadn’t tagged the school what the outcome might have been.
A screenshot showed that 15 people “liked” the post. How many of those who liked the post, if any of them, had the presence of mind to alert school officials or police to the post?
For years now, we have cautioned parents to monitor their children’s social media or, short of that, at least talk to their children regularly about what they post on social media. We believe that’s still sound advice.
But Thursday’s incident suggests it may need to go further than that. We urge parents to talk to their children about recognizing the signs of danger among those they interact with on social media. Did any of those 15 people who liked that Instagram post understand the tragic potential it posed and know what to do or who to contact?
Remember, social media posts are often a cry for help. Do our children recognize those signs? Is distinguishing between idle bravado posted on social media and a credible threat something our children are prepared to grasp?
Our society may have turned its back on the idea that we are our brother’s keeper. But as parents, the safety of our children may well rely on the belief that your child’s safety rests in part on his or her ability to recognize the danger signs among their social media peers.
It’s a sad thing to have to put that kind of adult responsibility on our children.
But, as a society, it’s a choice we have made.
We have chosen to worship at the altar of the Gun.
These are the natural consequences.