Well...the word "sad" has been brought up several times in this thread. I can think of another word that is just as appropriate..."MADDENING".
I was a police officer for 23 years. I was hired, and sent to the academy at 20, and celebrated my 21st birthday during my 12th week at the academy.
When I went through the hiring process, there was no equivocation in the testing. No prior drug use. No prior misdemeanor or even petty offenses were allowed. You were expected to have lived your first 20-21 years the right way.
One the four hiring boards I was a part of...it was an exception to find applicants who didn't have a record of some sort. Minor In Possession, etc...etc...etc...
During those 23 years on the force, I nearly shot a couple of teens with "what based upon my training and experience appeared to be firearms". The first was a 16 year-old moron with a pellet pistol that looked nearly identical to a Walther PPK or a Bersa .380. The ONLY thing that kept him from a chest full of 230 gr Hydra Shoks was that I SAW the CO2 "screw" at the bottom of the grip frame before the shot broke. It was that close. In fact under Arizona law...he WAS pointing a firearm at me as it "fired a projectile via explosive means or chemical reaction or compressed chemical reacant".
The second was a known prohibited possessor carrying a plastic lever action rifle that similarly resembled a Henry .22lr. The orange endcap had been painted black, as was discovered incidental and pursuant to arrest. A person from the neighborhood had called in about him carrying and pointing the "rifle" at several youths. As second responding officer, I found him at the park with the "rifle" in his possession. I approached him WITH my Glock drawn, and ordered him to drop it and step away. He complied immediately...if he hadn't...statistic. His PO violated him and he was sent BACK to state prison to serve the remainder of his 3 year sentence on orginal charges of B&E. Better that than dead I suppose. I have a strong feeling he will be no smarter when he gets out next time.
So, the point is all...I agree with you. "Too soon old, too late smart".