And send Nathan Entingh home because, like virtually every American boy who ever existed has done at one time or another, he pointed his finger and made shooting sounds. If you think that's crazy, you probably don't want to hear about the Maryland second-grader who was suspended last year for chewing a Pop Tart into the shape of a pistol.
Surely we will all sleep more peacefully tonight, knowing our schools are safe from pointing fingers and Pop Tart violence.
In the meantime, laws protecting Americans from real guns are marked by an appalling flaccidity that countenances firearms in bars, churches, schools, back yards Florida seems poised to arm teachers essentially every nook and cranny of daily life. There is not simply something wrong with that picture. There is something bizarre, something that speaks and reeks of the irresolution of unserious people, unable to grapple thoughtfully with, and devise intelligent solutions for, the problems that press us. Nathan is only the latest person to pay the price for that failure. His suspension is manifestly unfair.
Consider: The average kid spends about 30 hours a week in front of the television. By the age of 18, researchers say, he or she has seen 200,000 acts of violence and 16,000 murders. Maybe you're skeptical of those statistics. Maybe you suspect researchers of using a model that draws no distinction between Wile E. Coyote falling off a cliff and a shootout on "Breaking Bad." Fair enough. Cut the numbers in half. That's still a lot of violence, most of it gun-related. And we haven't even mentioned video games yet.
The argument here is not that video games or violent television "cause" school violence. Rather, it's that there is a stark disconnect when as a society we spend so much time making guns seem deeply cool, darkly dangerous and ever present and then punish a child for being enticed by them. Nathan is confused by what happened to him and well he should be. His confusion reflects our confusion, our inability to find consensus.
There are many things we could do if we were serious about combating school violence. We could beef up mental-health services and in-school counseling for troubled kids, we could require real gun-safety training and real background checks for gun owners, we could mandate they carry insurance on their weapons.
Instead, we crack down on boys making finger guns and shooting sounds.
A reporter from the Columbus Dispatch asked Nathan about his suspension. He said, "I was thinking it was dumb."
It says something that a 10-year-old can see what many of us obviously cannot.