Two promising young lives have been lost in Montana: that of the recipient of the bullet and that of the sender of the bullet. This is where our gun-fetish death culture has led us.

A boy in Billings awoke to the sound of pebbles hitting his window at 2:30 Sunday morning. Rather than pausing a second to shake off the adrenaline and look out the window, the boy grabbed a revolver from his bedroom and shot, hitting his fifteen-year-old classmate and friend in the head.

One shot, two lives destroyed.

The family of the victim, Mackeon Schulte, will not see him complete his sophomore year at Billings Senior High, nor any year after.

The boy will have to live with this accident the rest of his life.

One bullet, two lives destroyed. Is it worth it?

Mackeon Schulte and his friend were throwing pebbles at their friend’s window in order to wake him up at 2:30 Sunday morning. The friend grabbed a revolver that happened to be kicking around the room (unlocked? unholstered?) and shot.

“When their friend awoke, he was startled by the noise and saw faces outside the window,” Billings Police Chief Rich St. John said in a statement Monday. “He didn’t know who they were and was scared.”

Sure, being roused from sleep by strange noises is frightening. But this is where we’re at as a society: shoot first, ask questions later. Presume the worst: that somebody is breaking in, that the government is coming to take your guns in the middle of the night. Shoot the problem away an’ let God sort it all out.

It was the wrong message for society to send, and it was received by a young mind. This is how fifteen-year-old boys can die in America. This is also how young lives full of promise can veer into ruin, in America.

There is no reason to believe that this is anything but a tragic accident. But the shooter can never walk this accident back. This boy will live every day of the rest of his life knowing he killed his friend. Because he was, understandably, scared in the middle of the night. Because he had a gun close at hand, at such a young age, ready to fire before a few seconds could pass, along with the moment of fear, before he could return to rational thought.

One bullet, two lives ruined.

Shoot first, we’re all asking questions later.

Questions like… Is it worth it? Is this the price of defending our “liberties”? And if so, can we afford it?

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