On the morning of May 18, 1927 in Bath Township, Michigan, a 55-year old municipal worker named Andrew Kehoe used a timed detonator to set off a bomb he had planted at the local school.
Kehoe was Treasurer of the School Board, so he had unfettered access to the school.
According to friends and neighbors, he was having personal issues with his wife (who he had murdered days prior) and extreme financial difficulties. He was also severely disgruntled about having lost a local election the previous autumn.
Whatever his reasons, Kehoe took out his rage on the 38 schoolchildren he killed that day.
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It remains the deadliest attack on a school in US history.
Sadly, it wasn't the first– there were numerous reports of school shootings throughout the 1800s and before.
And as we all know too well, it wouldn't be the last.
Last week's shooting in Florida is another tragic stain in the pages of US history. And it's completely understandable that emotions are running high now.
People are demanding action. They want their government to "do something."
The problem, of course, is what we've been talking about so far this year in our daily conversations: emotional decisions tend to be bad decisions– and that includes public policy.
We keep hearing the phrase "Common Sense Gun Laws," for example.
And that certainly sounds reasonable. Who could possibly be against common sense?
[As an aside, I do wonder why "common sense" is only reserved for the gun control debate. Why doesn't anyone demand common sense airport security? Or a common sense federal budget?]
But it's never quite so simple.
Many of these "common sense" solutions are emotional reactions.