Simon, Rutten Articles On Tragic School Shootings
Stephanie Simon is without question one of the great treasures at the L.A. Times, a profoundly humanistic reporter who regularly touches our heartstrings. But seldom has Simon written more poignantly than she did yesterday -- about the terrible string of school shootings that have, with increasing frequency, been plaguing the nation.
Simon has covered many of them, from St. Louis and Denver, traveling widely, interviewing countless people, including some of the shooters themselves. Yesterday's article asked whether there was an answer, something that could stop the murders.
No, there doesn't seem to be, she found.
Simon, like all parents and grandparents, has a personal stake in this -- three children of her own who go to school.
At the end of yesterday's article, which started on Page 1, Simon told of the advice she gave Hannah, her 10-year-old daughter, and her two younger siblings, after the latest shooting, at Northern Illinois University, killed five innocents and wounded 20 more.
"On Friday morning, my husband and I sat down with Hannah and her younger brother and sister for a talk before school," she wrote. "We told them what do if they ever spotted anyone with a gun in school: Forget calling 911. Don't worry about finding a teacher. Hit the floor. Crawl away and hide.
"I hated to scare them," Simon wrote. "But my search for answers had led to only one truth: It will happen again."
If Simon found no answer, however, columnist Tim Rutten argued in his column that one partial answer does exist: gun control. It couldn't stop every violent act, but it would reduce them.
In his column, Rutten talked not only about school shootings, but about other shootings as well, including the heroic Los Angeles police officer, Randall Simmons, shot and killed last week when his SWAT team responded to a call about a disturbed young man who had shot and killed three relatives. Ten thousand people, including police officers from all over the country, attended his funeral.
Rutten also wrote about the 14-year-old boy in Oxnard, who shot and killed another student because he didn't like his being gay, and the crank who showed up at a Missoui city council meeting and killed several people before killing himself.
And he got into the presidential campaign -- where no candidate has been much willing to even discuss the shootings, much less advocate controls on guns.
"How many times can we really stomach another politician telling us -- as Obama did Friday and President Bush did after Virginia Tech -- that their "prayers" are with the victims of that day's gun-inflicted atrocity," Rutten asked. "Prayers won't bring the dead back or make the living safer. Our children don't need prayers they need leaders with a modicum of moral courage."
As is so often the case with Rutten's columns, this was a public service. We can only hope that it won't go ignored.
Last night, I was talking with a teacher whose fellow teachers and junior high students worry about something terrible some day happening at their school.
One small change, she suggested, would help, and that would be the ability of teachers to lock classrooms from the inside in case of an emergency, a killer in the halls.
But funds have not been made available for such inside locking. Perhaps, she suggested, newspaper editorials should encourage state officials to provide them.
Labels: Justice system