You might think the attack on students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., happened on Valentine's Day, but it was really Groundhog Day.
Sure, the odd observance of a furry critter and the mythology surrounding the effects of his shadow's presence happened on Feb. 2. I'm referring, instead, to the 1993 Bill Murray movie in which the main character becomes trapped in a sort of time loop, reliving one day over and over in Punxsutawney, Pa., with comedic and dramatic outcomes.
Our nation is stuck in its own time loop when it comes to violence involving guns, namely the kind angry, crazy or vengeful men tend to use to inflict as much carnage as possible on defenseless crowds. This involves no humor, as one Fayetteville High School student found out after he remarked on social media about shooting up the school "like they did in Florida." He was arrested.
Our nation is stuck where it was after Las Vegas, Dallas, Orlando, San Bernardino, Colorado Springs, Roseburg, Charleston, Marysville, Killeen, Newtown, Aurora, and on and on. The awful images of people running for their lives, or innocents covered in their own blood, keeps repeating.
There's a solution out there. But our political leaders and all the rest of us run as quickly as we can to whatever stance we find comfortable, whether it's a world without guns or one in which freedom can only exist if every kind of firepower imaginable by gun manufacturers is made readily available.
I'm a gun owner and I enjoy shooting. I appreciate the Second Amendment's protection of my right to self-defense. There is value in concealed carry. I do not believe a commitment to the Second Amendment requires NRA membership nor do I believe that organization should be the nation's bell cow on how to respond to violence involving guns. That's like a football game in which the opposing team's coaches serve in the capacity of referees.
It's also just as ludicrous to believe people who know nothing about guns, who fear their very existence or presence, can develop effective gun legislation. Go shoot some guns and learn about their differences before you try to regulate them.
The goal should never be a complete eradication of guns from law-abiding people. That's like advocating a policy that all the people who are in this country illegally should be gathered up and sent back to where they came from. It cannot be done and it would cost a fortune. I know we believe in deficit spending in this country, but no.
Murderous violence in our schools or elsewhere cannot be reduced without talking about the weapons that permit a high volume of injuries in a short period. The sheriff in Florida said the teenager's attack in Parkland lasted three minutes. That's about one child or adult slain every 10 seconds. What if this shooter hadn't run away? Let's say he got another 10 minutes in the high school. That's potentially another 56 dead people.
The weapon he used was a Smith & Wesson M-15 firing .223 ammunition. I don't blame the weapon. It is, after all, an inanimate object. But let's pretend in some dystopian future, your child was going to be brought into an arena to fight a one-on-one battle and you get to choose the opponent's weapon -- a machete or a pocket knife. From a defensive perspective, wouldn't it be easier to stave off an attack involving the smaller weapon?
The killing of children, again, is enough to suggest that the gun manufacturers should not be in charge of U.S. gun policy, just as cigarette makers aren't in charge of health policy. The Second Amendment does not require us to behave like idiots.
Gun advocates need to decide that they love their children, or the children of their friends and relatives, more than they adore their relationship with weaponry. Every American has a right to bear arms, but that right should not doom every conversation about gun violence to an impasse.
Our federal and state governments need to be eager to invest in readily available mental health professionals in schools, at least as eager as they are to spend billions on a wall. Is it more important to keep Hispanic people out or to keep children alive?
School security has to be at least as important as academic courses and athletic pursuits. Dead kids can't learn. Keeping them safe is job one.
And more than anything, we have to be able to talk to each other, to respect differences, to not become so entrenched in our politics that a conversation is impossible. And to find solutions in spite of our differences.
Right now, our American response to violence involving guns is really beneficial to one small group: the killers.
Commentary on 02/19/2018
Print Headline: Triggering solutions