Saturday, February 2, 2013

Gun Safety, Play Safety, cont'd

Not only squirt guns . . . Marash Girl used to love to play with cap guns.  Caps . . . do they still have those toy metal guns with long red strips of caps that go off with a loud crack when the trigger is pulled?  Or lacking a gun, Marash Girl would delight in using a rock to set off the caps on the cement patio beyond the back door of her home.  
When Marash Girl arrived at Day Junior High School, guns were no longer a toy, but a reality.  There were junior high school gangs in Newtonville and West Newton, gangs that would meet at night and threaten each other, the gang members wearing black leather jackets, sporting slick hair styles known as DA's ("duck's asses"), and carrying hidden guns, guns that had been brought back from the war by their fathers, uncles, and older brothers.  Members of the gang shared a home room with Marash Girl, and one of them, Mugsy M., would bring items he had stolen from the 5&10 and distribute the "loot" to his classmates in an effort, perhaps, to win their favor.  As it turned out that, unbeknownst to the school administration, the gang members, and some non-gang members, "carried" in school as well as out.  One morning in 8th grade, during first period, a shot rang out that was NOT heard round the world.  The shot rang out in a social studies classroom when Jerry V.'s hidden gun accidentally went off ("he didn't know the gun was loaded") while he was inspecting its intricacies, shooting off his own finger, and instantly killing the boy sitting in the seat in front of him.  The gun had been sitting behind Marash Girl in home room just  10 minutes earlier.

This deadly accident occurred, not last week or last year, but many years ago, at Day Junior High School in Newton, Massachusetts.  Wikipedia records the event as follows: March 31, 1954: Newton, Massachusetts John Frankenberger, 14, was accidentally shot to death in a classroom at Day Junior High School when a pistol being held by a classmate discharged.
There were no parent meetings, no counselors, no outrage, no effort at gathering the guns.  Only sorrow and  funeral services for the innocent dead boy (who was indeed an innocent "by sitter" and NOT a member of the gang), sorrow for the boy (also NOT a member of the gang) who, bored in class, happened to be inspecting his gun.  And life went on.  We all went to school the next day and the next and the next.  

How would a change in the gun laws have saved the innocent victim at Day Jr. High School?  How would a change in the gun laws prevent the young people today from carrying guns into the classroom?


  1. It is not only the guns and the knives in the wrong hands that can kill, but hammers, bats, golf balls, baseballs, automobiles, etc . . . .the list goes on. Boy gangs, Girl gangs, and individuals can use any of these weapons irresponsibly and with deadly results (whether intentional or accidental).
    Rather than entering into discussions and debates about banning weapons, perhaps education and mental health need to be the priorities: SOCIAL RESPONSIBILIITY is the issue that needs to be addressed . . . not GUN CONTROL.

  2. Does anyone know jerry v. Full name I just came across this. We're charges ever find against him. I had no idea there were so many guns in Newton schools.

  3. Don't know about charges, because he was transferred to Our Lady's at that point in time. Believe it was considered an accident as he shot his own finger off with the same bullet that killed John Frankenberger. Haven't seen him since then, though.

  4. Sorry for the spelling typing on a phone. Were charges ever filed?

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. That's crazy I was unaware that even took place at day. I am a life long newton resident and haven't heard the name Frankenberger. I wonder if that's the correct spelling. What a tragedy. Poor kid hadn't even started his life yet. I tried to find an old news paper article about it but had no luck.

    1. Actually there is a write up about this event on Wikipedia. Here's a quote: March 31, 1954: Newton, Massachusetts, John Frankenberger, 14, was accidentally shot to death in a classroom at Day Junior High School when a pistol being held by a classmate discharged.

  7. That's crazy. If you happen to find more on it let me know. There was a bank robbery in the mid 70s where a police officer was almost shot and killed by the suspect before his backup arrived. Newton was a different place in days past. Do you remember that incident