The Journal Gazette
Friday, October 22, 2021 1:00 am


Trigger warnings

News shows guns doing little to enhance safety

EDITORIAL BOARD | The Journal Gazette

After a gun was recovered last week at Snider High School, Principal Chad Hissong urged students to report things that make them feel uncomfortable and unsafe.

He thanked students, parents and staff for their “quick reaction ... in resolving this situation” after the weapon was taken from a student at the school.

“The student was immediately isolated,” Hissong wrote in a four-paragraph email to parents Oct. 14, “and the gun was confiscated.”

Wayne High School officials the same day investigated reports of a gun there. They later announced one was found Tuesday.

Fort Wayne police on Tuesday searched an area near Jefferson Pointe for hours for someone “with what was believed to be an assault style rifle” who fired shots and damaged a car. The person wasn't found.

Krista Stockman, spokeswoman for Fort Wayne Community Schools, offered an apt assessment when asked to provide more details on the situations at Snider and Wayne.

She wouldn't offer specifics but said in an email to The Journal Gazette, “... when a student brings a weapon to school it is rarely because of an issue at school and most likely an issue in the community. Children having access to weapons is a community-wide issue that everyone needs to address.”

That message, obviously, is tailored to schools, but it's a salient point and can be extended. Guns and violence affect us all – from students, staff and parents wondering what might have happened at local schools if the weapons hadn't been found to homeowners and pedestrians worried about a possible shooter in their neighborhood.

Lax laws and the reluctance of state lawmakers to make changes ensure the effects stretch even further, beyond Indiana's borders.

Everytown for Gun Safety launched its Crime Gun Dashboard this year, finding that states with loose rules on background checks are often the source for guns used in crimes – many times in other states. The dashboard is an interactive database created with government data to track the movement of firearms used in crimes from state to state.

From 2015 to 2019, according to the dashboard, more than 17,000 guns “originating in Indiana” were used in crimes within three years of purchase. Among neighboring states, only Ohio's 20,000 outpaced the Hoosier State.

Killings – most of them involving guns – rose 43% from 2019 to last year in Allen County. FBI figures released in September show the number of homicides nationwide rose nearly 30% from 2019 to 2020.

A report on child deaths compiled by the Indiana Department of Health reveals an accidental gunshot that took the life of a child in Kosciusko County in 2019, the most recent year for which numbers are available. A self-inflicted gunshot killed a child in LaGrange County.

“Reviews (of child deaths) are intended to be a catalyst for community action,” the report says.

Guns at school, a possible shooter on the city's southwest side, weapons crossing state lines, violent deaths among children. They're disparate scenarios with common elements.

One thing is clear: Guns are not making us safer.

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