School shooting massacre can happen ‘here’

On Valentine’s Day in 1929, seven people were brutally murdered by gangsters with automatic weapons. Eighty-nine years later last Wednesday, a second St. Valentine’s Day Massacre occurred when a shooter with a semiautomatic assault rifle killed 17 people and wounded scores more on a school campus.

It was the 18th school shooting incident in the first six weeks of 2018. All but a couple of them resulted in injury and death.

There is one common aspect to every one of these incidents: Nobody thought something like that could happen “here,” at their local school in their local community.

The fact is that “here,” is everywhere — from every urban center to rural outpost, regardless of how “nice” or “good” the community is.

They did not know someone was so troubled, or so bullied, or felt so threatened, or was so ignored, or was so afraid, or so isolated, or so unloved, so… — fill in the blank — was living among them.

Whatever compels or motivates someone to bring a loaded firearm into a school, all of us need to drop the dangerous instinct of denial and realize that it can happen here. Then we need to actively search and seek out those in our community who need help, reaching out to them not with the handcuffs of law enforcement but with open hands of caring and love.

On the same day but before the Florida school massacre happened, a Hancock High School student made a threat to commit a mass shooting there.

Was that reported by the police or school? No. A caller to the newspaper reported it the next day, and by going back and finding an innocuous entry in the Hancock police log we confirmed the story — a story police officials did not want to be printed, which we did on Saturday, and one which Hancock Schools administrators still are refusing to comment on.

And, yes, we did have the name of the individual but will not release it, because the individual is a juvenile, and it would serve no public purpose to do so.

But people need to know news like this so it can be addressed. Keeping such things secret only leads to a false sense of security that such incidents “cannot happen here.”

This issue is yet another example where a local community of neighbors is much more effective in taking care of its own rather than relying on politicians to take measures that will make little, if any, difference, if they manage to take any measures at all. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.