Sunday, November 21, 2021

A little boy and a gun that owned him

            In the book "Rampage Nation," author Louis Klarevas, who narrowly averted death at the barrel of a long arm, employs the standard term "mass killing" for four or more victims.

            Had one of Kyle Rittenhouse's rapid rounds not torn through the arm of one of the three people he shot but instead hit his heart, head or torso, the junior vigilante would have been three quarters of the way there.

            Arm, not head or heart. Just "winged," not dead, like Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26.

            Is the placement of that bullet the slender thread by which Rittenhouse today is a free man and not a convicted mass murderer?

            Whew. Lucky for you, kid.

            Regardless, the new mascot of MAGA valor – Rep. Matt Gaetz says he'd offer him an internship -- has been reunited with his family and his firearms, where he can dream of whom to plug next.

            Call it a travesty. Call it a vindication. But acknowledge that had an urge not possessed this child to arm himself, cross state lines and insert himself into a scene of chaos, much would have been avoided.

            Two dead. One maimed. A trial as costly as it was ghastly. One perpetually traumatized community.

            Imagine what would be if Rittenhouse had stayed home and lived his teen fantasies through Fox News.

            More pertinently, imagine if he had exercised his driving privileges and delved into Kenosha's chaos with a smartphone, not an AR-15.

            So much tragedy in this world because someone was owned by a firearm:

            George Zimmerman would not have indulged in raw stupidity, ultimately killing a dark-skinned teen, had he not possessed his gun, or had it not possessed him.

            Without his piece, Zimmerman would have summoned police – you know, professionals trained to enforce the law.

            While we're at it, the victim of Rittenhouse who was wounded but survived, Gaige Grosskreutz, was possessed of stupidity himself, and suitably armed.

            Grosskreutz said he fired his Glock in the air before Rittenhouse shot him in the arm.

            I'm thinking Grosskreutz wishes he had packed a second sandwich for the Kenosha protests instead of the Glock. Unlike the sandwich, the gun made him do something dumb – confront a loose cannon in little Kyle Rittenhouse.

            In Colorado, a "good guy with a gun" is dead. John Hurley, 40, shot dead a gunman who had killed an Arvada police officer. It was heroic. It also was ill-advised. When another officer arrived, that officer assumed Hurley was the bad guy. He killed Hurley.

            These are scenarios to be acted out over and over in states where being openly armed is sanctioned, even encouraged.

            It's the kind of mortal threat that's courted with calls to arm teachers.

            One would think the gun sanity organization Everytown for Gun Safety, which formed after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, might be open to this idea to keep schools safe. Hardly.

            "The notion of a highly trained teacher armed with a gun is a myth," it states. Teachers could never attain gun training anywhere comparable to what police departments require.

            With other factors involved – confusion at an active shooter scene, the potential of accidental discharge or theft – it's no surprise that the nation's largest teacher's organizations, as well as major police groups, roundly oppose this horrible idea.

            Says C. Thomas Manger, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, "The more guns that are coming into the equation, the more volatility and the more risk there is of somebody getting hurt."

            Kyle Rittenhouse might agree with this were he not living a MAGA/NRA/Fox News fantasy.

            Tragedies like this are what you get when people elevate implements of death to mythical status. Two dead, one maimed because a gun made a boy think he could be of service at a disturbance a state away.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

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