Jewish World ReviewMarch 10, 2000/ 3 Adar 2, 5760
I don't know how to explain my recent lapse in common sense. Was my body snatched by an idiot pod?
I'm talking about my previous column where, in response to the first-grader school shooting in Michigan, I urged tough consequences for adults whose carelessness results in a child shooting someone. So far, so good.
Then I apparently lost consciousness and urged trigger locks for all weapons. Who said that? Surely not I, daughter of a responsible gun collector who taught me to safely handle and shoot guns as soon as I could hold a rifle. My father must be banging his head against heaven's gate. He taught me better.
Among his more valuable lessons was the lawyerly advice that an unenforceable law is a bad law. A law that makes trigger locks mandatory is about as useful as a law that requires daily showering. You can force gun dealers to sell locks, but you can't force gun owners to use them.
Thanks to readers who managed to remain rational in the wake of the terrible Michigan incident that claimed the life of 6-year-old Kayla Rolland, I've been born again. To the one Colorado reader who agreed with my first knee-jerk response, sorry. The Sahara Bridge Builders Association wants you, too.
The better solution to this and other gun tragedies is to make the consequences for irresponsible gun ownership so severe that such accidents become rarer than sensible government. Responsible gun ownership might include the use of trigger locks - I'd like to think so - but a law mandating them is little more than a political pacifier.
Irresponsible gun owners aren't going to use trigger locks. And responsible gun owners aren't going to leave handguns lying on the floor, as was the case in the Michigan shooting.
The child who police say took a stolen .32 semiautomatic to school and killed Kayla was living in a crack house where trigger locks were as unlikely as a well-balanced meal. Or even a bed.
The boy slept on a couch in the living room of a run-down house inhabited by his uncle, Sir Marcus Winfrey, 21, and another 19-year-old man, Jamelle James. The boy's mother had left the child and his 8-year-old brother with the uncle about two weeks ago when she was evicted from her nearby home. The boy's father is in prison.
It is ridiculous to suppose that someone who traffics in drugs and steals guns, or accepts stolen ones, will take the extra step of attaching trigger locks. You can picture the thought process: "Boy, this crack sure smacks good. But, whoa, I forgot to lock the trigger on that piece I stole yesterday. What am I thinking?"
"Thinking" is the operative word here, and I've got a turtle's lead on the low-life who left a child to play with a lethal weapon. There is only one reasonable conclusion: Make adults pay for crimes committed by children.
Prosecutors are heading in that direction. In Michigan, police arrested James and charged him with involuntary manslaughter for allegedly allowing the boy access to the gun. The boy's mother has been accused of neglect.
Trigger locks are a good idea. They're also readily available and cost as little as $10. I can't imagine why anyone with young children in the house wouldn't use them. But a law insisting on their use would be as effective as laws insisting that people not steal or use drugs, or a law requiring them to be good
03/08/00: After this school shooting, no easy target for our contempt