Our opinion: Kids with guns

April 22, 2011 2:27:00 PM



The latest Justice Department report on safety in our schools contains quite an understatement: "The presence of weapons at school may interfere with teaching and learning by creating an intimidating and threatening atmosphere." 


Some parents, and a few students, at New Hope are feeling a little threatened and intimidated. Last week, a 10-year-old was caught with a gun at school. To threatened and intimidated, we add shocked -- how does a 10-year-old get his hands on a gun, and how does he get it to school without a parent knowing? 


Thankfully, no one was hurt -- the gun wasn''t loaded, at least not when it was discovered. Things were more tragic in Houston, Texas, just this week. In that case, a 6-year-old brought a gun to his elementary school. The gun went off when he was playing with it, injuring four other students. The father claimed ignorance, saying he had no idea how his child got the gun. 


No matter where you stand on Second Amendment rights, we all can surely agree that guns need to be kept out of the hands of children. 


In the New Hope case, a 10-year-old now faces felony charges in Lowndes County Youth Court. We hope the adult responsible for leaving a gun where a young child can get at it, faces charges too. 


Folks, keep your guns unloaded and locked up, with a trigger lock. More importantly, have the presence of mind each morning to know what your child is bringing to school. Most parents check their elementary children''s backpacks for their homework and other school work. Seems we also need to be checking them for weapons. 


To those parents worried about a scourge of weapons on school campuses, know that these are rare incidents. In fact, they''re declining, both nationwide and in Mississippi, according to the Justice Department report. Less than 6 percent of high school students surveyed in the 2010 study said they took a weapon of any kind to school. In Mississippi, the number is lower, around 4 percent. (The number of students who carried a weapon anywhere also declined.) 


That number should be zero, especially among elementary students. Our children deserve a safe, worry-free learning environment. Parents, get involved with your children, and know what they''re bringing to school.