The attack was carried out by other teenagers who were gathered at a street corner, heard the laughter and decided spontaneously and with no other provocation that the laughter was aimed at them, an intolerable show of disrespect in their eyes. As the news report said, "out came the guns" and another tragedy was perpetrated in a scenario of violence that has become almost mundane and monotonous in its repetition.
Now we learn that the National Rifle Association has filed two lawsuits in federal court in Texas to overturn the longtime federal ban on handgun sales to people under 21 and to overturn a Texas law that restricts the carrying of concealed weapons to 21-year-olds.
In other words, the gun lobby has decided it is appropriate for juveniles to go armed to the teeth in public places despite overwhelming statistics that show that 18- to 20-year-olds are responsible for a disproportionate amount of the gun violence.
At the same time, the NRA, which represents gun manufacturers and sellers under the guise of defending the rights of those who buy them, is once again hamstringing the agency dedicated to helping keep the nation's streets safe for those who do not wish to own or carry guns by bringing some sanity to the enormous traffic in firearms.
The NRA has flexed its muscle in Congress to oppose once again the confirmation of a permanent director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives despite the undeniable qualifications of the nominee for the job, Andrew Traver. He had the audacity to associate with a police chief's group working toward reducing hand gun usage on city streets, a position obviously unacceptable to the NRA. Apparently, that opposition will prevail as it has in the past, revealing what has long been evident - that the gun lobby, not the American people, own the Congress lock, stock and barrel.
Perhaps at no time in the history of the Republic has one special interest had so much legislative influence. What the NRA wants it usually gets from the fear-driven toadies in the House and Senate where opposition to it is regarded as political suicide no matter how rational the proposal and the motivation for it. It is a national disgrace.
Adding weight to that complete subservience to the gun lobby's irrational demands and opposition to any regulation of its industry, of course, was the 5 to 4 decision of the U. S. Supreme Court to validate individual gun ownership as a constitutional right no matter how disruptive, and with very little apparent thought to public safety. The court did give a nod to the importance of the sick idea of safe streets by leaving the door open a crack for certain restrictions like age and mental capacity and so forth, all of which the NRA opposes.
There is every reason to believe that those who oppose the unfettered traffic in guns outnumber those who do not. But compared to the hugely financed NRA, the anti-gun lobby is a eunuch. The group founded by former White House Press Secretary James Brady, wounded in the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan, apparently exists somewhere out there but has little or no clout . And other gun control organizations are rarely heard from. Certainly, those who espouse the causes of sanity in firearm control don't seem to receive much acknowledgment from these groups.
Meanwhile, going to the store to buy a candy bar with a pal after studying is an increasingly dangerous activity. If the NRA has its way, that area of violence in our urban sprawl will get much larger with innocent children the victims of gang and individual crime.
Until communities, where funerals for teenagers and bystanders gunned down in the streets are an almost daily event, stand up and say enough, there is little or no hope things can get much better.
Dan K. Thomasson is former editor of the Scripps Howard News Service.