Opinion: Columnists

Gregory Kane: Hysteria over guns

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Opinion,Gregory Kane,Columnists,Gun Control

Did you ever play cops and robbers when you were a kid? Be grateful you weren't born circa 2006.

I did indeed plays cops and robbers as a kid. And, as politically incorrect as it sounds these days, cowboys and Indians. And good cowboys vs. bad cowboys. And yes, my playmates and I did indeed use our fingers as imaginary gun barrels, firing at each other. And yes, we even did this during recess at school.

Such conduct might have gotten us suspended in the year 2013. It happened to 6-year-old Rodney Lynch in early January, when he was suspended from a Montgomery County school for using his hand as an imaginary gun and "firing" it.

I'd expect such to happen in Montgomery County -- uber-wealthy, liberal and incurably blue. But later in the month, school officials in relatively more conservative Talbot County got in on the act of suspending menacing 6-year-olds.

According to the website for Baltimore television station WJZ, "there's controversy at a Talbot County school after two 6-year-old boys were suspended while playing cops and robbers during recess and using their fingers to make an imaginary gun."

The proper name for such a reaction would be this: hysteria. I'm sorry, but there simply is no other term that applies. The Newtown tragedy has made far too many Americans hysterical when it comes to the matter of guns, gun control and now, it seems, children playing with imaginary guns.

Here's the thinking -- if indeed it can be called such -- that led to the suspensions of three 6-year-old boys in two Maryland counties: If we let them play with imaginary guns in school, they'll grow up to be homicidal, mass-shooting nut jobs like Adam Lanza, perpetrator of the Newtown massacre.

And here's where that logic fails completely: Generation after generation of 6-year-old boys did exactly what these three did, and we DIDN'T grow up to be homicidal, mass-shooting nut jobs like Adam Lanza.

That's because we grew up in a society that didn't devalue life. Today's American culture DOES devalue life, and it has nothing to do with the National Rifle Association, guns or the much-maligned "gun culture."

Guns are inanimate objects, harmless in the hands of those who value life. Only in the hands of those who do not value life do guns become weapons of mass murder.

What led Lanza to think life so cheap that he would extinguish so many lives? We'd be on solid ground if we assumed that it wasn't because he played cops and robbers using imaginary guns on some school playground when he was 6 years old.

But that's not what we want to hear in America's current climate of hysteria regarding guns. Many of us want to hear that the NRA is the problem, that guns are the problem, and that NRA members and gun owners are all a bunch of raving lunatics.

CNN television personality Piers Morgan -- who's fast becoming the Harry Hysteria of America's gun-banning contingent -- has already dismissed NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre as "a dangerous, dimwitted, deluded menace to American safety."

Not to be outdone, even by himself, Harry -- oops, I mean Morgan -- trotted out radio television talk show host and out-there conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, a gun rights advocate, to be on Morgan's show. Morgan let him talk on and on. When Jones was done, there was Morgan, talking about what a nut Jones is.

Morgan chose to have Jones on his show, then concluded from Jones' performance that all those that disagree with him about gun control are evidently either stupid or insane. That's a symptom of hysteria.

Here's the problem with hysteria: No good, sound, reasonable policy about guns can come from it.

Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.

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Gregory Kane

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The Washington Examiner