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Posted at 04:02 PM ET, 01/05/2012

The Brownsville police shooting and peer pressure

DALLAS - Just one day after police fatally shot a Brownsville 8th-grader who brandished a pellet gun that looked like a pistol, the story is already sliding down the “most-read” list on a local news website.

It was the third item of interest on Valleycentral.com by mid-morning Thursday. The parents of the dead 15-year-old, Jaime Gonzalez, are devastated, of course, and the community is divided over whether police overreacted or the boy himself was to blame for bringing the weapon to school.

No matter now, apparently; the story has been overtaken by “Brownsville’s Plastic Bag Ban: One Year Later.’’

Here in Texas, we don’t spend much time questioning the gun culture itself. You can’t blame the stereotypical redneck cowboy mentality, either. As anyone who remembers Sandra Bullock’s character in “The Blind Side”” can attest, plenty of nice suburban moms


Nancy Blanco and her husband Arturo Carreon comforted their two children, Ashley Carreon,12, and Josey Lynn Carreon,13, after being reunited with them at Dean Porter Park in Brownsville,Texas Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012. The park is across the street from Cummings Middle School. A 15 year-old student was shot and killed by Brownsville police at the school after he was seen brandishing a weapon inside the school. (AP Photo/The Brownsville Herald, Brad Doherty) (BRAD DOHERTY - AP)
in the South are packing heat.

I’m gun-shy myself, but admit I succumbed to the dominant culture just last week. I was scrambling to buy a gift for a close family friend who is 16. Unlike the Sandra Bullock character, I don’t oversee a well-run household, so when I say “scrambling,” I mean last-minute.

In a picked-over bookstore with only minutes to shop, I remembered the boy is dyslexic. My bad, but a turgid novel wasn’t an option and I was out of time. I remembered that the boy’s Christmas request last year was a chance to shoot at a gun range (yes, really.) And this year, at his request, his Mom gave him a fancy knife.

I rationalized that his interests were akin to my daughter’s Zen-like obsession with tea, which I considered a hobby. I’d bought her a tea book; why not buy him a weapon book?

I’ll admit that the boy loves those violent video games which are in such disrepute among social scientists. Personally, I’m persuaded that the games glorify violence.

Yet I bought the book, knowing on some level that I was sanctioning his interest in weaponry.

And perhaps worse, I realized that I’d made one of those uncomfortable compromises that pushed aside my own judgment for the most influential of all things, the dominant culture.

By  |  04:02 PM ET, 01/05/2012

 
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