2.19.2009

Reading Life

Just finished Give a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser. The story is compelling. It's a challenge to write about violence in the schools, especially gun violence, especially after so many instances of school shootings. Even the way it's told (short snippets of either written or oral interviews from various perspectives) wasn't a distraction. As a matter of fact, I think this sort of distancing from the main characters (in this case, the "shooters") helps tell the hard story. My concern is that the story is weakened by the obvious anti-gun sentiment as expressed in the footnotes. Sure, the studies have shown all this stuff that is quoted in articles and books, but it seems skewed to me. That a shooter trained for a summer with the Boy Scouts how to shoot targets then ends up pointing that weapon at humans later is factual, but where are the countless other stories untold of the many more thousands of Boy Scouts who go through the same training, have access to guns, and don't kill with them? It is not in the access and ownership where the problem lies, nor in the production and importing of said weapons, but in the person. True, no amount of training will help a kid not point it at another human with ill will when he's aiming to anyway. Same as with sex ed: no matter how much we tell kids about unwanted pregnancies and STDs, and how to prevent them, girls still get pregnant, boys get girls pregnant, and STDs are passed from one to another. I'm not saying there aren't things we can do to keep school shootings from happening, but there has to be more than saying guns are bad.

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