Tuesday, February 26, 2008

L.A. Nightmare: Kids With Guns

In my morning scan of the major U.S. newspapers, I found a paranoid rant in the L.A. Times reacting to the possibility of concealed-carry laws on college campuses:

Iam having a recurring nightmare.

It takes place in a lecture hall at Anywhere State College during a tedious presentation on the history of video games. The only alert person in the class, a straight-A student majoring in Wi-Fi, suddenly notices an unfamiliar male entering the room.

He is wearing a hooded sweat shirt because it is cold outside and the wind is blowing, but it makes him look like a convenience store crook. He is also carrying a backpack and begins to reach into it.

I know, because I am an observer in the nightmare, that the stranger is only going for his NRA Play Station "Blood in Space" to occupy his mind during the lecture by a professor whose topic that day is "Pacman, the Godfather." The subject is, like, yesterday, and hardly anyone is listening or even paying attention to the presence in the doorway.

But the alert Wi-Fi major in the sixth row, whom everyone knows by the nickname "Guns," is sure that the doorway figure fits the profile of a campus killer and isn't about to sit there and be murdered without a fight. Guns instantly draws his legal 9-millimeter Beretta and begins blasting away.

The gunfire arouses the instincts of others in the class, and they, similarly, draw their permit-allowed weapons ranging from handguns to shoulder-mounted rocket launchers and join the fun. One student throws a flash/stun grenade.

Obviously, the Al Martinez doesn't really think that kids will start toting grenade launchers to class -- but his point is no less ridiculous. Only a fool could honestly believe that legalizing concealed-carry at colleges and universities will turn 9 A.M. lectures into the OK Corral.

The idea of a room full of 19-year-olds packing 9's to Psych 101 just because the government says its legal is absurd on its face. Certainly, some will. But on the list of things college kids spend their loan money on, guns fall far behind illegal purchases of beer, drugs, liquor, and more beer.

A legitimate point could have been made -- allowing guns on a campus where frat parties happen could lead to all kinds of trouble. The combination of drunk people and firearms is my greatest concern with allowing guns on campus, and it is an issue that deserves serious attention.

However, Mr. Martinez decides to skip all legitimate concerns and just appeals to emotion:

This time I am taking my grandson to his kindergarten class at the behest of his mother, who has a doctor's appointment. As I am watching him run off happily into the play yard on School Street, I notice that another little boy has dropped his Roy Rogers lunch box.

It is red and yellow and has a picture of Rogers on the front mounted on Trigger, who is rearing. Rogers is waving his cowboy hat in the air the way he used to in all of those exciting 1950s westerns. I am intrigued by the lunch box because most kids today don't even know who Roy Rogers is, or was, much less Trigger, who is stuffed and mounted in a museum in Branson, Mo.

Then something equally significant catches my eye. In addition to the apple, carrot sticks and tofu sandwich that fall from the boy's lunch box, there is a snub-nosed .38-caliber revolver of the type I once carried as a backup weapon while a Marine fighting in the Korean War.


The gun in the lunch box? That doesn't surprise me because it is within the guidelines of a new state law that mandates the right of students from grades K-12 to carry firearms to school to protect themselves against kids with guns. (This is a nightmare, after all.) It is basically the same right that had been granted earlier to college students.


I awoke from the nightmare both pondering the possibilities and writhing from the very notion of kids with guns. But then I finally calmed down, comforted by the fact that it was only a bad dream and not a reality.

At least not yet.

Yes. That's right. Coming to a playground near you-- 5-year-olds packing heat, with government sanction, no less.

Give me a break.

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