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And Another Thing

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Gone too young. As ever.

I'll begin this one with the obvious: Anyone who dies at 19 has gone too soon.

This is true of jocks, non-jocks, those who get their names in the paper and those who never have and never will. The famous and the non-famous. The gifted and celebrated, and those whose gifts have yet to emerge.

So, no, this is not about the fact Montez Brooks was a football star, an All-State linebacker last seen helping Bishop Luers win a third straight Class 2A state title in 2011. This is about the fact he was 19 years old and died in the meanest way possible, shot on the street and then dropped off at the hospital like a sack of laundry, where the docs were unable to save him.

As such his death was a tragedy, and it would not have been less of one had he never stepped foot on an athletic field. But the fact he did puts him on my radar more than he would have been otherwise -- and if that means my radar is faulty or exclusionary or not as engaged as it should be, so be it.

That's how it works, see: We respond to these deals mostly when they hit close to home. And so I'm trying now to remember if I ever talked to Montez Brooks -- I don't think I did, but I'm not sure -- and I'm also trying to imagine what circumstances could have taken him, in 17 months or so, from the turf in Lucas Oil Stadium to a slab in the morgue.

I can only conclude that however it happened, it's a damn waste of humanity. Always is. And will be again, because we live in a country that doesn't really care if it happens again.

I'm only gonna say this once, so listen: More and more I'm convinced that America, or at least a powerful segment of it, has made it perfectly clear that 19-year-old kids getting shot to death on the street is the reality it wants. If it didn't, the largely common sense measures being considered by legislators right now would already be law. But they're not, and I fear they're not likely to be, except in some profoundly watered-down form.

More guns, more shootings, more death: This is what lies ahead. And the solution, for the aforementioned powerful segment of America, is not to make it even slightly harder for those guns to get in the wrong hands, but to put even more guns in the hands of you, Mr. and Mrs. Law-Abiding Citizen.

Don't want to live that way, you say? Don't want to have to pack heat just to survive a night on the town, a trip to the grocery store, a walk to the mailbox?

Too bad. Arm because everyone else is armed: That's the madness some people want to move us toward, if we're not there already.

And so, yes, there will be more Montez Brookses, sadly, more 19-year-olds dying in the street. And people like me will wring our hands again when it happens.

And, much as I want to believe otherwise, it won't matter a whit.

Ben Smith's blog.

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