KILLING IN JONESBORO
FROM THE MAY/JUNE 1998 ISSUE OF
The March 1998 report of still another killing spree by school children, this time
in Jonesboro, Arkansas, brought to the fore the same charges and counter-charges that are
always advanced by various pressure groups when children use guns to kill innocent
The pro-gun forces go on the defensive claiming that guns don't kill, people do.
And the anti-gun forces repeat the obvious: without guns, no individual has the ability to
murder a group of people. But neither faction touches the heart of the matter. The problem
is not the number of guns that are owned by Americans--it is what they do with these guns.
In Jonesboro, as in many other parts of the country, guns are the means by which
children learn to kill. And because the beings they kill are not human, our school
systems, state legislatures, and churches give their endorsement to this training in
violence. They support the in-school programs and extra-curricula activities designed to
teach children how to hunt: how to maim and murder small and vulnerable woodland
creatures. And they tell these impressionable children that this killing is a recreational
activity. A sport. Fun.
Hunting is also acclaimed as a unique opportunity for inter-generational bonding:
parent and child can spend a day in the woods together, enjoying the beauty of nature
while looking for small creatures to shoot. And when squirrels, possums, and various birds
are crippled or killed, the children are praised for their skill. And, frequently, God is
thanked for blessing their accomplishments. In fact, many churches sponsor hunting
programs. Pigeon shoots, 'coon hunts, and other murderous events are planned by these
churches as part of their family values programs.
School boards also give their benediction to these activities. Children are given
days off during hunting season so they can join their elders for a day of recreational
killing. But when they turn their guns on human targets, the same groups who helped
desensitize these youngsters are appalled at what has taken place. And in the midst of the
agony, the hand-wringing and the search for answers, no one discusses the fact that the
children who committed the crime are the product of a culture in which recreational
killing is as much of a favored pastime as baseball, football and cheerleading.
REFUSE TO CALL HUNTING A SPORT. ALWAYS REFER TO IT BY ITS
PROPER NAME: RECREATIONAL KILLING.