COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - When we report on various local crime stories, very often those events we cover involve the use of a gun.
This is not an editorial on the Second Amendment, which gives every American the right to own a gun.
This is an editorial that asks a simple question, which has no easy answer: why do smaller level arguments so often escalate into criminal gunplay?
Take the case of the recent shooting at Peachtree Mall in Columbus.
One of the crime victims told news leader 9 that an argument with an acquaintance over gas money, and a request for him to leave her vehicle, resulted in her being pistol whipped and the girl's 16-year-old cousin being shot. Twice.
As I prepared this editorial, police were still seeking the 25-year-old man with the gun, who when captured, will deserve his day in court.
But this case brings up that nagging question: why was a gun used in the first place? This began as a quarrel between people who knew each other.
Why do shots have to be fired in altercations that should never escalate to that level? The answers are complicated of course, and we do not pretend know them all.
One answer is character and proper upbringing, so often lacking in the life of many accused shooters.
There is no quick fix for that situation.
It may take a generation or more for parents, teachers, mentors and pastors to get through to young people that guns are never necessary to settle petty disputes.
Only weak people resort to using guns to prove they're tough during a meaningless dispute.
But, of course, gunshots themselves are never meaningless. When you needlessly fire bullets in petty anger, you change lives forever.
That's what we need to teach and stress over and over, in hopes that we can lower the number of petty incidents when using a gun turns a squabble into a full blown tragedy.