Nevada school shooting

After a shooting at Sparks Middle School, a student is comforted at an evacuation center at nearby Agnes Risley Elementary School in Sparks, Nev. (Kevin Clifford / Associated Press / October 21, 2013)

We know, more or less, what happened at a Sparks, Nev., school Monday: A 12-year-old boy opened fire, killing a teacher and wounding two students before killing himself. But we don’t know why it happened. We may learn the answer; we may never be sure.

But there’s something else we do know, and it’s something familiar: He used a gun. Ironically, he used that gun to kill a man -- math teacher Michael Landsberry -- who, as a Marine and a Nevada National Guardsman, fought to protect this nation and the freedom to own that gun.

We also know that the boy got that gun from his parents’ home, and now there is the possibility that they will face charges because of it.

And that, I contend, would be a senseless and useless exercise. And I say that as someone who’s sick and tired of gun violence and has advocated for more gun control in this country.

Should the parents have locked the gun away so the boy didn’t have access to it? Absolutely. That’s an action any sensible gun owner should take. And I’m sure the parents are tortured by that very thought right now, as they deal with their grief at losing a child and their undoubted horror at the destruction he caused.

But singling them out for punishment is pointless. It’s taking the easy way out.

In a nation awash in guns, a nation that has seen multiple mass shootings in the last few years -- often with guns legally obtained -- does anyone really think that making an example out of these parents will make a difference?

No. Either we as a nation deal with gun violence in a comprehensive way -- such as the expanded background checks and limits on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that Congress rejected in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., massacre -- or we move on.

Scapegoating a couple of grieving parents does nothing to prevent the next mass shooting. Leave them alone. They’re suffering enough.

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