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The question Trump failed to answer

By Leonard Pitts Jr., Tribune Content Agency on

This is about a question Donald Trump failed to answer.

Granted, there are a lot of those, but this was a particularly tough one. Indeed, it was likely more difficult in its way than anything April Ryan or Lester Holt has ever asked him. But then, they're only adults. Ava Rose Olsen is 7 years old.

As anyone who has experience with human beings of that age can attest, no one asks more pointed questions. And the one she posed in a letter to Trump last August was a whopper:

"I hate guns," she explained in her little girl's scrawl. "One ruined my life and took my best friend. I don't want that to ever happen again. Are you going to keep kids safe? How can you keep us safe?"

The best friend she refers to is -- was -- 6-year-old Jacob Hall, who was shot in September 2016 on the playground of Townville Elementary School in South Carolina. Police say his assailant was a 14-year-old boy who took his father's handgun from a nightstand, shot the man in the head, then drove to the school and opened fire, screaming, "I hate my life."

Two others were also hit, but survived. Jacob suffered massive blood loss and died three days later. He was buried in a Batman costume. He loved superheroes.

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And Ava loved Jacob. In fact, she had already told her mother that, someday, she was going to marry him. She was on that playground the day he was shot. What she saw traumatized her.

In the days and weeks afterward, Ava took to pulling out her eyelashes and hitting herself. She clawed at her own skin. And she began repeating the shooter's words. "I hate my life," she said.

A doctor diagnosed Ava with post-traumatic stress disorder, and her parents took her out of Townville Elementary. She's home schooled now.

Think of that. This is now a country where even 7-year-olds have PTSD.

...continued

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