There he was Thursday morning, in full camouflage glory, toting his trophy — his first-ever turkey kill — through woods of Moncks Corner, S.C. Grace killed the bird with a .20-gauge shotgun on the second day of that state’s turkey season.
Grace, who hunts with his father, could just as easily have been one of the countless Alabama boys of varying ages who spend fall and winter mornings in blinds and deer stands while taking part in one of the South’s eternal rituals.
Grace made The Times’ front page because of that newspaper’s ongoing coverage of the anniversary of the 2012 Newtown, Conn., school shooting, which takes place Saturday. The man who killed 20 children and six teachers and administrators at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December also reignited our national discussion about guns, safe ownership and gun-related legislation.
Eight-year-old Keith Grace is the other side of the story.
America is a nation beset with gun violence; its streets are awash in unregistered guns and stolen guns. At the very least, there is no doubt that stronger requirements for background checks are a must. Lessening the weapons available to criminals and the mentally ill is a step Washington should take.
Little Keith Grace’s story doesn’t involved illegal guns or background checks. He’s an example of the American story that is legalized hunting, either for sport or for food. According to The Times, Keith’s father is an information technology analyst who owns several guns: shotguns, rifles and pistols. Keith’s father does not support a ban on firearms that currently are legal; he does support universal background checks.
The Grace family in South Carolina seems a fine example of smart gun ownership that neither Washington lawmakers or state-level legislators should be concerned about. When this nation discusses strengthening of gun laws — which it should — there should be no efforts to make it harder for the Graces to legally own guns and use them as they do.
The flip side to the Graces, however, is ugly.
According to The Times, nearly 1,500 state gun bills have been introduced since the Sandy Hook shootings. More than 100 have become law. Seventy of them have loosened gun restrictions, including one passed last spring by the Alabama Legislature that stops employers from prohibiting workers from having guns in their cars while on the job. Of those 70 laws, 49 have been passed by Republican state Legislatures such as Alabama’s.
On and on this discussion could, and should go. The Grace family in South Carolina has a story worth telling — of law-abiding people owning guns in a responsible manner. But that doesn’t overshadow the mass killings of Newtown, Aurora, Columbine, Blacksburg and Fort Hood, or the never-ending stream of gun-crimes on American streets.