Here’s a hot topic: your kid shouldn’t get shot while shopping at Hot Topic.

Your son shouldn’t become a target while shopping at Target.

A teenage party shouldn’t turn into two funerals.

A trip to the grocery store shouldn’t end in a trip to the E.R.

What do these shootings have in common? Well, they weren’t “random acts of violence” according to the police…

South Carolina: “We believe the individuals that were armed knew each other, and there was some type of conflict that occurred which resulted in gunfire,” Holbrook said in a Saturday afternoon news conference. “This was not a situation where we had some random person show up at a mall to discharge a firearm and injure people.”

Target store in Cincinnati: “The early stages of the investigation reveal the victim was targeted outside the store by the suspect,” a police spokesperson said. “This was not a random act of violence.”

Kroger store in Cincinnati: The March 25 shooting in the parking lot of the Hyde Park Kroger began as a “physical altercation” between a Kroger employee and another man inside the store, prosecutors said Wednesday. After the altercation, the man left the store. Prosecutors said the employee, 23-year-old Kevion Howze – who had a 9mm handgun – chased the man and shot at him four times in the parking lot.

Pittsburgh party: “Unfortunately, guns came into play, and we had shootings that occurred inside and outside the structure,” Schubert told CNN’s Kate Bolduan Monday. “We’re trying to piece everything together.”

So they weren’t random… that should put everyone’s minds at ease. Oh, other than the folks — many of them innocent bystanders — who were shot, or shot at, or had to jump out of windows to avoid getting shot. Oh, and their friends and relatives too, many of whom are attending funerals.

One other similarity among these “non-random” shootings? The people pulling the triggers were all under the age of 25.

Although brain development is subject to significant individual variation, most experts suggest that the brain is fully developed by age 25…. This means that some people may have major struggles with impulsive decisions

Wait, there’s one other thing these incidents — and hundreds more across the country — have in common: unfettered access to guns. There’s a huge difference between a fight among teens and a gunfight among them. When “beef” meets bullets, when testosterone combines with Glocks, when bullets are flying instead of just fists, we all lose.

I’m not naïve enough to think that every argument among teens or young adults will end with some sort of West Side Story finger-snapping dance. But I sure wish that were the case. Kids and young adults make bad decisions – that’s part of the growing up process. But when their brains are clouded and their hands are on a gun, it turns deadly.

“People should be outraged at what is currently going on. No one should fear getting shot while they are simply trying to shop at their local Kroger.”

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, in the article cited above

Yes, we should be outraged. More than half of us are… and favor common sense restrictions.


But… and there’s always a but… special interests have used political donations and fear-mongering to their advantage. In Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine just signed a new law that allows adults (21 or older) to carry a concealed weapon without a permit or training. And they don’t even have to tell a police officer that they have a gun unless specifically asked.

“Passing Senate Bill 215 and repealing Ohio’s concealed carry permitting law is another dangerous step in the wrong direction and it is a serious threat to public safety in our communities,” the Ohio Mayors Alliance Board of Directors wrote in a statement this month. “Our bipartisan coalition of mayors has stood with law enforcement groups in opposition to this bill because we know it will make our police officers less safe, it will increase gun violence in our communities, and it recklessly blurs the line between criminals with guns and properly licensed gun owners.”

DeWine is 75, so we can’t blame it on an underdeveloped brain.

Kevin Necessary editorial cartoon in the Cincinnati Enquirer

“By signing this bill into law, Mike DeWine has sold out Ohioans and law enforcement officers to special interest groups and extremists in the legislature. This bill will make all Ohioans less safe. Time and again, DeWine has promised to support law enforcement officers and ‘do something’ to combat gun violence in our state. Once again, he’s failed on both fronts, putting his own political interests over the safety and well-being of his constituents.” 

Ohio Democratic Party Chair Elizabeth Walters 

So, my rootin’ tootin’ gun-totin’ friends… how does this — the “constitutional carry” and the “stand your ground” and the fact that it’s easier for a teen to get a gun than to see an R-rated movie… make us all safer? Please let me know soon – I need to go grocery shopping.