by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

Take a kid. A skinny, mixed-up kid. A kid who feels picked on, persecuted, bullied — a kid who vows revenge.

Now add a gun. A gun kept in his house, by his father, in a glass case. One morning, when whatever crazy, unloved portion of that kid’s brain fires the wrong synapse, he takes that gun to school and opens fire, killing two classmates.

Now take that same kid. But subtract the gun. He gets up that same morning and something snaps. But there is no firearm at hand. What does he do? Maybe he takes a knife? Or a brick? Or a can of spray paint?

The kid is the same. The anger is the same. But in the first equation, two kids are dead, and in the second, they most likely are not.

The only difference is the gun.

Don’t even bother to pick up that pen to write me, Charlton Heston. It is that simple.

Eliminate the source

Now gun lovers don’t want to hear this because anything you say critical of guns somehow is interpreted as “HE WANTS TO TAKE OUR GUNS AWAY FROM US.”

No, I don’t. I want to take your guns away from ME.

I want to take your guns away from my children, my neighbor’s children and our schools.

I want to make sure that when the next angry, unloved, video game-influenced, Internet-addicted, violent, music-loving kid decides today is the day he steps over the edge, he doesn’t have a gun at hand.

You’ll notice I pointed out all the things gun defenders claim are the cause of these murders rather than a weapon. Lack of love. Media influence. Bad parenting.

Agreed. No argument. It all needs to be fixed. And the parental guidance is the most important thing.

But the most doable thing at this moment, the fastest way to keep our children alive — while we attempt to fix the other things — is to decrease the guns.

Which brings us to the state of Michigan, where a law was passed in the final frantic months of the last state Legislature that would sadly take us in the opposite direction, allowing virtually anyone — except felons and the mentally ill — to carry a concealed weapon, no reason needed.

This way, the guy sitting next to you at the deli or attending your child’s birthday party could very well be packing a pistol. The new law will, by many estimates, increase gun ownership in the state 10 times over, from 20,000 to 200,000.

That’s 10 times more opportunities for the next angry kid to reach for a deadly weapon and find one.

Sign a petition

That worries me. It ought to worry you. It ought to worry you enough to sign the petitions going around that would repeal this law and put it on the ballot in 2002, when at least the populace of this state — the people who could get shot — actually would get a chance to vote on the thing.

You can do this by calling 313-224-5437 or logging on to www.peoplewhocareaboutkids.com.

Didn’t you get chills watching that home video made by 15-year-old Charles
(Andy) Williams not long before he allegedly opened fire in the school bathroom in Santee, Calif.? He films himself walking around his house and the camera catches a glass gun case, smack in the middle of the hallway. Of course, we were told the father was a responsible gun owner.

Impossible. Because having guns in a home with children is, I believe, innately irresponsible. However, unlike gun lobbyists, I am flexible. I am willing to define a responsible gun owner with children.

Here is my definition: If your child commits a crime with your gun, you are responsible.

If he commits murder, you go to prison for life.

That’s responsibility.

Naturally, many will disagree with me. I will get mail, much of it angry and vicious, attacking me, my brains, my writing, even my looks.

It will bother me, no doubt. Might make me mad. It might make me so angry I want to race into the street in one crazy moment and vent my rage.

Fortunately, all I have within reach is a cup of coffee. No one will die because of that.

Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or albom@freepress.com. Catch “Albom in the Afternoon” 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760) and simulcast on MSNBC 3-5 p.m.


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New book, The Little Liar, arrives November 14. Get the details »

Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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