Have you heard of a 17 year-old boy named Jake Ryker? He should be a household name. Indeed, he should be hailed as a national hero. He was at Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon, on May 21st when 15 year-old Kip Kinkel killed two of his schoolmates and wounded 19 others. Jake was wounded in that event, but he nevertheless had the courage and state of mind to wrestle Kinkel to the floor and subdue him before he killed or wounded more students.
You may have heard of Jake Ryker, but the odds are that you haven’t heard of his appearance before the recent national convention of the National Rifle Association, the NRA. It turns out that Ryker had taken an NRA marksmanship and safety training program, where he learned about the use of guns but also their dangers. Most of the media don’t want to acknowledge this because they don’t want to say anything nice about the NRA.
That NRA convention did get a lot of media coverage, but it was mostly negative. On two of the morning news broadcasts, ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC”s Today Show, Charlton Heston was interviewed as he was on the verge of being elected as the NRA president. The tension was so thick that you could cut it with a knife. Heston is one of the most friendly and personable individuals on the scene. But the tone of the interview was so hostile that he had to refer to NBC’s Katie Couric as “Miss Couric” and ABC’s Lisa McCree as “Miss McCree.” Both of them wanted to know how Heston could defend the use of firearms in the wake of tragedies involving kids and guns. He was portrayed as an apologist for extremism.
Heston mentioned the NRA’s training and safety program, but Couric and McCree didn’t want to talk about it. Yet this program was a factor in Jake Ryker’s overpowering of the child killer, Kip Kinkel. Ryker’s father Rob said that both of their sons, Jake and his 14 year-old brother Josh, had taken the NRA classes and “The knew from [this training] that there was only a second to grab him [Kinkel] as he reloaded. That’s when Jake tackled him.”
At the NRA convention, Charlton Heston made a basic point – that existing gun laws are not enforced properly. Ollie North, another NRA member, points out that federal law prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from possessing a handgun, and it’s against federal and state law to bring a firearm within 1,000 feet of school property. Yet Kip Kinkel, who was 15, had been apprehended the day before the shootings for illegally carrying a firearm into the school. What was done to him? Police took him into custody, he was brought before a magistrate, and he was released.
Rather than highlight this problem, many journalists would rather beat up on the NRA. In picking Charlton Heston as president, the NRA has someone who can fight back. It will be extremely entertaining to watch him exercise his rights under the first amendment as he protects the second.