THE NATIONAL cable-news shows didn’t air Friday’s media briefings about the latest school shooting. The attack in Noblesville, Ind., was the third in just the span of a week, after all. And only two people were shot. Good news, right?
Wrong. Wrong on so many levels. Wrong that we are becoming accustomed to a world in which our children are potential targets. Wrong that we should have to feel grateful only two people were shot. And wrong to believe those two people were the only victims Friday when a student at Noblesville West Middle School opened fire.
Asking for the public’s prayers, the Noblesville police public information officer powerfully made the point that collateral damage extended beyond the student and teacher who were wounded. The children who cowered in closets, tearfully texted their parents, raced down hallways — none of them should have to experience such a calamity. “A lot of kids . . . ” said Lt. Bruce Barnes, “are trying to make sense of this situation.”
The latest school shooting took place seven days after 10 people were killed in a shooting at a Santa Fe, Tex., high school and a 14-year-old boy was wounded by a classmate in Los Angeles. Details provided by authorities in Indiana were sketchy. A report of an active shooter at the middle school about 25 miles northeast of Indianapolis was received shortly after 9 a.m. A male student in a 7th-grade science class asked for permission to leave the room and returned armed with two handguns. A student and teacher were shot and taken to hospitals. The teacher, Jason Seaman, was credited by students with confronting and disarming the shooter, who was taken into custody. It’s unclear where the boy obtained the weapons.
“It’s another sad day, and this day it just happens to be in Noblesville,” said Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter. Noblesville joins Santa Fe and Parkland and Great Mills and Sandy Hook and Littleton and so many other places that thought “it can’t happen here.” More than 215,000 children at 217 schools have been exposed to gun violence during school hours since the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, according to a Post analysis that detailed the long-lasting trauma and emotional damage that often result.
Even students who haven’t had firsthand experience with a school shooting are impacted. Children as young as age 4 are learning in “active-shooter drills” to hide from imaginary murderers. Their notion of school as safe place is being shattered.
Something positive, though, may be emerging: a powerful, youth-led grass-roots movement for gun control that already has brought about some needed changes and is hopefully poised to bring about more. While adults accept each descent as a new normal, and make excuses, and — in the case of Republican members of Congress — answer to the National Rifle Association, these young people say no, wrong. It does not have to be this way.