Yesterday’s School Shooting Was A 12-Year-Old Girl With A Semiautomatic Weapon

by Meredith Bland
Image via Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Yesterday’s school shooting happened because a middler schooler had access to a semiautomatic

Yesterday, in what was the third shooting at a middle or high school in 2018, a middle schooler accidentally shot two of her classmates with a semiautomatic handgun. So far, this appears not to have been a targeted shooting, but it’s terrifying to all parents that we live in a country where a child not only has access to a loaded firearm but is able to bring that weapon to her middle school classroom.

Shortly before 9 am on Thursday, police responded to a shooting at Sal Castro Middle School in Los Angeles. Five people were injured, including a 15-year-old boy who was shot in the head and a 15-year-old girl who was shot in the hand. Three others, ages 11, 12, and 30 were also injured, two of whom were described as having “graze wounds.” A 12-year-old girl was taken into custody, and video of her being led out of the school by police officers was broadcast on the news.

Thankfully, all of those injured are expected to recover.

It’s a clear sign of our times that we all assumed, at first, that this was an intentional act. Police now believe, however, that the shooting was accidental. A 12-year-old student named Benjamin told The Los Angeles Times: “Someone decided to bring a gun, I guess someone was accidentally playing around with it. They thought it was a fake gun.”

The middle school does reportedly conduct “random weapons checks.”

The fact that this country has a gun problem is hardly news. Though the estimated 10% of Americans who are against any kind of gun control complain bitterly about even the most common sense gun regulation and safety measures, the majority of Americans are asking for simple things, such as laws that would prevent those with severe mental illnesses from buying a gun, something the Trump administration overturned early last year. And while we don’t yet know the details of how this particular child got access to a gun, we can bet that if there were federal common sense safe storage laws in effect, this shooting might not have happened.

It’s not asking too much to request that if you own a gun, especially if there is a child in the home, that you have it stored in such a way that your child cannot get to it. And there should never, ever be any way for a child to get a loaded gun.

There’s a federal law requiring that guns be sold with locking devices. But — and there’s always a “but” when it comes to gun laws — there’s no federal standard for these devices and there are exceptions to the rule, “including…transfers by private sellers.” Also, the law “does not require that transferees use the device,” according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

And what do you think the result is of those exceptions? According to The Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence, an estimated 1.7 million children live in a house with a loaded, unlocked gun.

The NRA, an organization that believes that the answer to how to keep our children safe from guns in schools is to have more guns in schools, doesn’t of course, believe in any kind of federal mandate regarding gun storage. Instead, they believe that every person should decide what’s best for his or her household, an approach that — based on the fact that people get shot by toddlers every week in the United States — doesn’t seem to be working out too well. They also have something called the “Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program,” (for fun!) which keeps our kids safe by telling them that if they see a gun, they shouldn’t touch it. Great. I’m sure that kid who just ate a handful of cat litter will find that reasonable.

Meanwhile, a middle school girl has been taken to the Los Angeles County Central Juvenile Hall and charged with negligent use of a firearm. And a young boy is lucky to be alive after getting a bullet to the temple.

But this will pass, and American gun owners will continue to get to decide for themselves how to keep the rest of our kids alive.