Keep firearms out of kids’ reach

News announcer: “There’s been another school shooting. This time at the Troutdale High School in Oregon, about 16 miles east of Portland.”

I don’t want to write about this. It feels like screaming into the wilderness with no one listening. And I feel silly admitting that I really thought things would change after the December 2012 mass school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

I honestly believed the senseless deaths of 26 little children and teachers (as well as one horribly misguided mother) was going to be a watershed event that would spur a host of new ideas to curb violence.

I was wrong. Since the Newtown tragedy there have been 74 more shootings at American schools. That’s about one per week.

What’s wrong with us that we can’t stop this awful trend?

Roswell, N.M.; St. Louis, Mo.; Orlando, Fla.; Atlanta and Savannah, Ga.; Gray, Maine

A gun safety group named Everytown for Gun Safety has been tracking each time a gun is discharged on school property from K-12 to trade schools and universities. It is happening in every region of the country.

Phoenix, Ariz.; Houston and Austin, Texas; Arapahoe County, Colo.; Isla Vista, Santa Monica and Fresno, Calif.

Assaults, accidental shootings, homicides and suicides witnessed by our kids. Imagine how your children would have reacted if they had been in the boy’s bathroom at the Davidson Middle School in Southgate, Mich., last March to witness 13-year-old Tyler Nichols shoot himself in the head.

Hazard, Ky.; Elizabeth City, N.C.; Grambling, La.; Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Memphis and Clarksville, Tenn.

Of the 74 school shootings since Newtown, 35 took place at institutions of higher learning. The other 39 occurred in lower grade schools.

How would your child have reacted if she or she had been in the Sparks, Nev., classroom where 12-year-old Jose Reyes suddenly began to shout, “Why are you laughing at me” and pulled out a 9 mm Ruger? He shot his teacher to death and wounded two classmates. What could you possibly say or do to make it all better for your child after they had witnessed that?

Chicago, Ill.; Cincinnati, Kent and Lyndhurst, Ohio; Des Moines and Algona, Iowa; Milwaukee and Oshkosh, Wis.; Rapid City, S.D.

The youngest shooter was a 5-year-old who brought a gun in a backpack to Westside Elementary School in Frayser, Tenn., last August. The gun discharged in the cafeteria as students waited for the first bell. Thankfully, no one was hurt. The oldest gunman was a 53-year-old custodian who killed two fellow janitors on the Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts campus in West Palm Beach, Fla., last June.

Episode 74 occurred at a high school in Troutdale, Ore. A teenager with a rifle shot and killed a 14-year-old freshman and wounded a gym teacher before killing himself.

This is the shocking reality of what we have allowed to become an almost regular occurrence.

Yet communities seem stunned when it happens close to home.

Christiansburg, Va.; Raytown, Mo.; Decatur, Ga.; Sardis, Miss.; Winston-Salem, N.C.

The most discouraging section of the Everytown for Gun Safety summary concludes that, just like the latest 15-year-old shooter in Oregon, many of the underage gunmen, “Had easy access to guns at home” or from other adults in their life.

Common sense tells us kids don’t get guns by walking into a sporting goods store and buying one. Officials estimate there are more than 300 million privately owned firearms in the U.S. There are plenty of opportunities for a minor to get their hands on one.

If you are one of the millions of Americans who own a gun, secure it. Buy a gun cabinet, a trigger lock or a simple lock box – and do it today. Regularly check to make sure your weapon is where you think it is. Routinely talk to your family about gun safety.

To anti-gun citizens, stop with the parrot-like calls for more gun and ammunition laws. We have plenty of laws that are ignored. Those who would use a gun in the commission of a crime are not deterred by words on paper.

Guns are a part of American life – love it or hate it – and we need to learn to come up with new solutions to the very real problem they can pose.

To members of the National Rifle Association: This is not an attack on your right to own firearms. This is not a call for a national registry of gun owners.

This is a call to responsible gun owners everywhere to act responsibly. We’re a nation of smart, determined people. Let’s fix this.