August 12, 2005

May Be Armed and Dangerous

The ex-offender community grew by one today, and yet he doesn't need any special dispensation to vote, since his record has been wiped clean:

Dressed in camouflage fatigues, the two boys waited in the woods behind the school until the lunch hour, when one of them ran into the hallway and triggered a fire alarm. As classmates and teachers filed out of the buildings Mitchell Johnson, 13, and Andrew Golden, 11, opened fire with high-powered rifles stolen from Golden's grandfather. By the time the last shot was fired four girls and an English teacher, who had attempted to shield the children from the barrage, were dead.

What happened in Jonesboro that day in 1998 awakened America to the terror of school shootings and left an indelible mark on the northeast Arkansas town that was yesterday trying to come to terms with the fact that one of the convicted murderers, Johnson, is due to walk free from prison. Golden is scheduled to be freed in 2007.

A now-closed legal loophole means the killers can only be held until their 21st birthdays, and with Johnson's birthday falling yesterday his expected release from a federal penitentiary in Memphis has re-opened old wounds in the town, with many residents questioning whether justice has been served in the case.

It has also drawn a sharp reaction from gun control campaigners, who criticised the fact that because Johnson was convicted as a minor his criminal record will be wiped clean and he will be allowed to buy a gun.

Not all injustices are caused by wrongful imprisonment. If the sonofabitch ever touches a gun he ought to be considered to be a clear and present danger to those around him. But I see that not everyone requires that much provocation:

Jonesboro's sheriff, Jack McCann, told CNN yesterday that if Johnson returned to the town "we cannot guarantee his safety".

I'm ok with that. You will not be able to convince me that anybody who does what this young man did will ever be a normal human being who can be trusted out on his own in society.

Posted by Charles Austin at August 12, 2005 06:07 PM