Wow. In the most horrible news you'll hear today, a man named Wellington Menezes de Oliveira, 23, walked into a school in Rio de Janeiro, opened fire, and killed 11 children before he was shot and killed by police.
Awful. Terrible. There are no words. I can't imagine what it would be like to be the parent of any of those poor children right now. We, in the United States, have seen our fair share of school shootings in recent years -- oft followed by debates about gun laws. I, myself, a hater of guns, have said things like, "Gun laws should be stricter." "Why is it so easy for kids to get guns?" "Guns should be illegal."
I'm now wondering if that's the problem, though, since Brazil has some of the toughest gun laws in the world.
First of all, the minimum age to carry a gun in Brazil is 25, so clearly getting around the system isn't too much of a problem. And even though it's technically legal to carry a gun outside your house, really severe restrictions were made in 2002 that make it virtually impossible to obtain a carry permit. These laws are way more strict than in peaceful places, like Australia.
So, I'm sad to part with my many-year beliefs, but, clearly, gun laws don't matter in these circumstances. Why? Is it a case of going crazy over something you can't have? Like how Americans love to drink themselves into an oblivion the minute they are allowed to (and usually before then)? It's something that's been "off-limits," so they feel that they need to make up for lost time?
I actually do think that's the case with some people. I'm sure there are kids in Brazil -- and certainly in the U.S. -- who can't wait for the minute they can get their hands on a gun because it's been taboo for so long. And, maybe, on occasion, these people actually do kill people inadvertently. We've all heard stories of young children getting their hands on someone's gun, and, well, it's never a good ending.
However, I don't think that's the case with Wellington -- or anybody else who's gone on a shooting spree. Maybe he couldn't wait to hold a gun, but that is the work of someone who is not well, someone who is unstable. And, although I'd love to see all the gun laws in the world get even stricter, I don't think it would really matter in situations like this.
What do you think about gun laws?
Image via mikejmartelli/Flickr