It is true, as I imagine the chair of the NRA would be happy to remind us, that french fries or cigarettes kill more children every year than firearms. But it's not the death that we object to. Every child is going to die eventually. It is, rather, the circumstances. Too sudden, too spectacular, always much too gory. What ordinary American parent wouldn't prefer for her teenage son or daughter the slow, dignified death of a high cholesterol diet to the unpredictable rampage of a desperate loner? In the end, I suppose, it is a matter of arbitrary social convention or a whim of personal taste -- the selfish conceit of a parent who nursed certain naive expectations that her son or daughter may not have lived up to anyhow.