Shot in the back.

That's how Tyrone Moore Jr. died in the wee hours of Saturday morning (see Page 3A).

Kicked in the gut.

That's how Sunday's front-page news of Moore's murder figuratively felt to this long-time newspaper person.

More than 35 years in this business can significantly numb a person to the cutting pain of such tragic stories.

Even non-newspaper people can develop a hard case of cynicism on grim topics.

But this particular case of yet another grotesquely premature demise of yet another young local man hit my soft spot.

Why?

A couple of my good pals are good friends of that victim's family, which includes Roddy White, Moore's big - and big-name - brother. They've always spoken highly of Roddy and his mom. They've told me that Roddy has given generously of his time and good will to folks in need.

Now Roddy's celebrity status makes Ty's sudden death outside a Mosquito Beach nightclub national news.

Roddy, formerly a James Island High School Trojan and Alabama-Birmingham Blazer, is currently a four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons.

So what about murder victims who aren't famous or don't have a famous relative?

How many of them have we - and will we - ignore?

What about the horrible hurting going on not just in Tyrone Moore Jr.'s family but in the thousands of other American families who lose loved ones to murders every year?

What about the more than 110 million privately owned handguns in the U.S. (according to most estimates, out of roughly 300 million firearms overall) and the bloody results they produce, both with and without evil intent by the trigger squeezers?

For instance, from an April 29 Associated Press dispatch:

"A 4-year-old Kansas boy reportedly squeezed the trigger of a handgun found in his father's nightstand, firing a single fatal bullet into his 19-month-old brother's chest."

Much closer to home, from an article by Post and Courier colleague Glenn Smith on Page 5A of today's Post and Courier:

"A 4-year-old boy who accidentally shot himself after he found a .25-caliber pistol last week has died, according to the Dorchester County Coroner's Office."

From bullets to ballots

Also here in our pistol-packing Palmetto State:

State Sen. Lee Bright of Spartanburg, one of the challengers to U.S. Senate incumbent Lindsey Graham in the June 10 Republican primary, gave away a Ruger 9 mm handgun Monday evening at a campaign rally in Greenville.

Yes, even if we outlaw guns, there are so many already in circulation there would still be plenty out there for the getting.

Yes, if we outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.

Yes, guns don't kill people, people kill people.

Yes, people with knives kill people, too - and a local man faces an attempted murder charge after a stabbing on Coming Street early Sunday.

Yes, some cops will tell you, though not always on the record, that responsible gun ownership can be a lifesaver against the deadly menaces in our midst.

And yes, as National Review points out in its current (May 19) edition:

"Since the late 1980s, Americans' right to keep and bear arms has undergone a veritable revolution, with advocates racking up legal, political, and cultural victories as if they were going out of style. Each and every time a loosening of the laws has been proposed, critics have suggested that it will yield a return to the lawlessness of the 'Wild West.' This hasn't happened. Instead, Americans have seen a dramatic drop in gun crime and cutting of the murder rate in half."

Yet even with those encouraging declines, by the FBI's count, 14,827 people were murdered in the U.S. in 2012, the latest year for which full stats are available.

Loaded questions

Sure, the Second Amendment guarantees that we can defend ourselves, families, homes and businesses with firearms.

But you don't have to be a gun-control enthusiast to suspect that it was way too easy for Tyrone Moore Jr.'s killer to get that murder weapon.

Grizzled Post and Courier colleague and tag-team partner Mike Mooneyham coached Roddy in youth baseball. As "Mr. Mike" recalled in Sunday's story:

"I still remember Ty as a toddler when he used to come out to Roddy's games. His mom was always running after him, and I told her then that Ty was going to be faster than Roddy one day. His passing breaks my heart."

And the horrendously high frequency of such brutal passings - and their awful waste of human potential - should break all of our hearts.

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is wooten@postandcourier.com.