Life

Another Mass Shooting, Another Round of ‘Thoughts and Prayers’

America’s latest mass shooting happened at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas where a gunman killed 19 students and two adults.

As I write this, the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas stands as the deadliest mass shooting at a school since 2012’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

The latest information released from authorities who are investigating what happened indicates the incident began when an 18-year-old man had some kind of domestic issue with his grandmother. Authorities say he wounded her, then took off in his car armed with a handgun, an AR-15 and high-capacity magazines; crashed his vehicle near the school, got into some sort of gunfight with troopers who responded to the crash; ran inside the school and barricaded himself in a classroom where he opened fire.

As I write this, the death toll stands at 19 students and two adults. The gunman was fatally shot by police as well, apparently.

The numbers could change. They changed drastically since the initial reports of a shooter at a school, which turned into two dead (based on a statement from a hospital) to 14 dead (based on a statement from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott) to more than 20.

On Wednesday’s edition of CBS Mornings, Gayle King interviewed a lawmaker from somewhere. I don’t remember who he was or where he was from. I don’t think it really matters. He said what many will say.

Now is not the time to talk about the gun debate. We need to focus on the victims right now.

I would respectfully suggest that if we had been talking about the gun debate more earnestly, we might not have so many victims of mass shootings.

But folks like this go on sending their “thoughts and prayers” after a mass killing. Where were their “thoughts and prayers” that might have prevented the killing from happening at all?

Could this particular mass shooting have been prevented with gun laws?

I don’t know. From what I’ve read so far, the guns were legally purchased. But should this particular 18-year-old have been able to purchase guns?

Someone who will shoot his own grandmother then open fire on law enforcement officers and top off all of that by killing a bunch of children at an elementary school likely should not have been able to.

I don’t see how anyone can think someone who might be capable of doing all of that should be able to legally purchase any kind of weapon. Not even a pocket knife.

But what have our lawmakers done about that? What have they done to make sure people who purchase handguns go through some sort of psychological testing to make sure they’re responsible enough to own a gun? How do we know that every person who pays money for a gun is mentally stable enough to be a responsible gun owner?

That little R-word is important.

Let me be clear: There are plenty of responsible gun owners. I know several personally. We need them.

I believe the original intent of the Constitution was to allow for responsible gun owners to help defend the nation from tyrants. I do not believe the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the second amendment happens to line up with that original intent. But theirs is the interpretation we’re stuck with.

Still, no reasonable, realistic responsible gun owner should in any way object to measures taken to ensure people who wish to buy a gun are mentally fit to do so.

I can’t imagine one of the responsible gun owners I know would have any problem passing such scrutiny.

I also can’t imagine the responsible gun owners I know would want people who are not mentally fit to have easy access to handguns. It’s those people who put negative attention on responsible gun owners. It’s the irresponsible who vilify the responsible.

That’s not fair. But that’s often reality. Like it or not.

If you are the responsible owner of a gun, it’s in your best interest to do something as well. You should want to make sure fewer irresponsible people get their hands on guns.

We hear all of the “good guy with a gun” foolishness. All of you “good guys with guns” shouldn’t have to defend yourselves from “bad guys with guns.” Unless you consider yourself to be Wyatt Earp, your goal should always be preventing bad guys from getting them to begin with.

While we debate about guns, let’s stop trying to compare guns with other weapons.

There are myriad ways human beings have conceived to kill one another. We all know this.

If you were to eliminate guns completely — which no one is trying to do — people would still kill others. Murders occurred long before anyone picked up the first firearm.

But it’s May. We’ve had 27 mass shootings so far this year.

So far.

How many mass killings have we had from any other method of killing can you cite since Jan. 1?

Think about that number. That’s more than five mass shootings per month.

Some want to arm teachers.

I heard this ridiculous idea a few times since Tuesday’s shooting. If the teachers were armed, this kind of thing wouldn’t happen.

Oh really?

What would happen if the teachers had to exchange gunfire with a gunman? Now you want children caught in the middle of a shootout in their classroom?

It’s hard enough to find good teachers. Districts around the country are facing the challenge of recruiting and retaining teachers. Are we really going to put on their shoulders the responsibility of carrying a sidearm?

Are we willing to dismiss good, effective teachers who don’t wish to be armed?

Oh, and by the way, who’s going to pay for all those guns, all that firearms training, the ammunition? Where’s the money for all of that?

Lawmakers won’t even pay for metal detectors and staffing to keep people with guns out of our schools to begin with! Where are they suddenly going to dig up the cash for militarizing every classroom in every school in every town or city in the country?

Where’s that cash sitting right now?

Is it a mental health problem or a gun problem?

This is the question that people keep asking. Year after year. Mass shooting after mass shooting.

The answer is, it’s both. We all know deep down, no matter how little we want to admit it. We all know.

But no one wants to do anything about either.

If “thoughts and prayers” were enough to solve either problem, they’d be solved by now. Clearly, they aren’t.

Thoughts and prayers are nice. But they accomplish nothing because there are too many who won’t ever do more than that.

That’s what needs to change in this country. Until it does, we’ll just have to sit back and wait for the next mass shooting to happen. We all know there’ll be another one.

As a nation, we can do better. We simply have to want to do better.

We have to want to do better more than we want to sit around and wait to hear of the next mass shooting. Too many of our fellow citizens and leaders don’t care enough to get there.

So we press on and wait for word on the next mass shootings. There will be more.

Sooner or later, we’ll get tired enough of it.

In the meantime, maybe we can take some of those “thoughts and prayers” and focus them on ourselves. It seems like our hearts need to undergo some major changes.

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.

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