Jumping on the gun bandwagon

So Doc, Chris and Daryl have already weighed in on this one; even the NYT’s The Lede has chimed in.

From AP:

A troubled teenager accused of plotting a school attack built up a
stash of weapons with the help of his mother, authorities said Friday.
Michele Cossey, 46, was arrested Friday on charges of illegally buying
her home-schooled son, Dillon, a .22-caliber handgun, a .22-caliber
rifle and a 9 mm semiautomatic rifle with a laser scope. …[T]he teen, who also had a brief court appearance Friday, was ordered
held at a juvenile facility while he undergoes a psychiatric
evaluation. He was charged with solicitation to commit terror and other
counts, but his lawyer, J. David Farrell, stressed that all but one of
the weapons prosecutors put on display were pellet guns and air rifles.

Guns–in the hands of a kid. Scary stuff, right? Especially the 9mm–you could hurt somebody with that.

Except:

The teenager said the two .22-caliber weapons were stored at a friend’s house. …[T]he search did not turn up any ammunition for the semiautomatic rifle.

Oh.

Then we read on:

Authorities have said they do not believe an attack was imminent and are not even certain one would have occurred.

”This
was a smart kid that clearly believes he was picked on and was a
victim,” Castor said. ”He had psychological issues and began to act
out on those feelings.”

[…]Acting on a tip from a high school student and his father, police
searched the boy’s bedroom and found the 9 mm rifle, about 30
air-powered guns modeled to look like higher-powered weapons, swords,
knives, a bomb-making book, videos of the 1999 Columbine attack in
Colorado and violence-filled notebooks, Castor said.

Now, I know almost nothing about guns, .22, 9mm, air-powered or otherwise. We’re not a gun-owning family, and I’ve never been interested enough in weaponry to educate myself in the field (except for a fascinating conversation with Zara in which I discovered that the Desert Eagle would be the perfect weapon for the bad guy in my as-yet-to-be-written-or-even-outlined murder mystery to use to kill someone from a block and a half away). And I don’t know a lot about "bomb-making books" except that (a) the book in question, the Anarchist’s Cookbook, was owned by at least six of my high school buddies, and (b) the only person you’re going to blow up by following the directions in the Anarchist’s Cookbook is yourself… and that’s if you screw something up somewhere.

But I do know something about the subtext of this story: a boy who was poisoned by fear.

This kid was bullied at school–bullied to the point that his parents pulled him out to homeschool him. Every day that he walked down the hallways of his middle school, his heart would pound and his hands go clammy with sweat. There was no way to know where his tormentors would pop up today, what they would say, what they would do. He might have asked for help from a teacher or a counselor, or he might have felt so bound by the peer-pressure code of silence that he was unable to speak up to defend himself. He might even have spoken up and found that the school administration was so helpless, or so unwilling, to protect him that he never went to them again.

And even when he was removed from that environment, the bullying continued. Maybe anonymous taunts were left on his MySpace page. Maybe he had to walk quickly, head down, past the bullies’ houses on his way to the library or the store. Maybe he answered the phone several times a day to hear nothing but rough breathing, and then laughter. Maybe the taste of blood and grit in his mouth never seemed to go away, was always as fresh as a wound reminding him of who he hated and why.

I didn’t have access to a gun in high school; not even to a decent knife. But I carried a wrench tucked inside my jacket, figuring anything hard and metal would be better than nothing if it came down to a fight. And I filled up notebook after notebook with outpourings of hate (and some pretty damn bad goth poetry). If the Authorities had gotten their hands on what I had written, in this era of zero-tolerance and punish first, ask questions later, who knows where I would have ended up? Maybe in a "boot camp" like this kid.

Should what Dillon Cossey was doing have been ignored? Obviously not–it was a clear plea for help. But should the response have been to throw him–and his mom, who I honestly can’t perceive as having done anything illegal–in jail, where he’ll be bullied and terrorized in ways your average middle-school thug could only imagine? Yeah… that’ll turn him out just fine.

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About Molly Newman

Writer, cook and trivia/spelling bee hostess, living it up in North Portland.
This entry was posted in Current Affairs, Homeschool. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Jumping on the gun bandwagon

  1. Zara says:

    Wow…oh, wow….
    So here we go arresting the mom and the boy, yet we fail to look at the real issue here and do something about it.
    Why should any person, at any age, have to deal with the environment around them being so hateful and negative? Why should people be in such fear and insecurity, that they go around intimidating others?
    Where are the parents of the bullies? Shouldn’t they have been teaching those kids to RESPECT and not fear the world and others? Almost every negative action and reaction is based on fear – anger is fear, only on a much higher level.
    When you can respect someone for their pure existence, even if their own strange ways of living do not mesh with your life choices, you take the fear out the situation. You can’t fear someone you respect and they can’t fear someone who respects them.
    Doesn’t mean you have to like them, or talk to them, or even share their options, but if they aren’t killing people, lying, stealing or intentionally hurting others in any manner, then at the very least….we shoudn’t fear them.

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