Once again the news saddens and angers us with reports of another school shooting. This time the school is in Florida where 17 are dead and countless more are physically injured and, or, emotionally scarred.
The first documented school shooting occurred on July 26, 1764 near what is now Greencastle, Pa. during Pontiac’s War. Four Lenape entered the log schoolhouse, then shot and killed the schoolmaster Enoch Brown before killing nine school children with melee weapons. The number of children varies in reports.
Yes, I know this was 23 years before Delaware became the first state. However, there were 28 school shootings in the 19th century and 226 in the 20th century. This still fairly young 21st century is outpacing every other century with 221 already. Of those 221, 8 of them occurred in 2018 as of this writing on February 15, 2018. Two of those eight where indiscriminate targeting of students and teachers on school grounds: 17 killed in Florida on February 14, 16 shot in Kentucky on January 23. Five of them targeted individual people on school grounds, and one accidental .
My point is we’ve had a very long time to talk about gun violence directed at schools. A very long time. Yet, the number of schools coming under attack is increasing because this nation refuses to have a discussion that creates any meaningful results because neither side is willing to give an inch. Oh, we pick at the issue. We create the illusion of doing something. Many schools have police in them. Many schools have safety plan. Many schools have bullet proof glass, cameras, visiting policies, and other administrative guidance. Many schools lock their students in for the duration of the class. Beginning to sound like a sort of prison isn’t it? Turning our schools into fortress’ does nothing to resolve the underlying issues of gun violence and mental health. The sharks are still circling, waiting for their moment.
School shootings is becoming the new norm. Every time it happens we lose a little bit of our repugnance and anger. I fully expect to someday hear someone claim the school shooting wasn’t that bad because only one student died. We will lose our commitment to one being too many. We can’t let that happen. We can’t.
Sure on the day the news is reported we collectively condemn it. We beat our chest against such senseless violence and flex our abhorrence calling the perpetrator a coward, or evil, or whatever. Sure, we have memorials and grief counselors. Sure, every politician posts they are praying for the victims and grieving with the families and many Americans do the same. Sure, the next day we feel good about feeling bad as the media releases personal stories about each individual victim. We promise to do something so this will never happen again, then we demand to know how this could happen yet again.
We demand to know how this could happen again. That one is easy to answer. We pray, we yell, we demand, we grieve, we promise, then we move on.
I understand that the majority of gun owners are not fanatics looking to overthrow the government, or kill people on a mass scale, or murder people, or ever use their gun in an act with criminal intent. I know it. You know it.
I also understand that school massacres are but one of the many, many incidents of gun violence. I know there are men out there being killed because of the color or their skin. I know there are women with guns pointed to their head being forced into vile acts. I know there are people being murdered for the twenty dollars in their pocket. I know there are guns being used to rob merchants. I know there are people out there planning terrorist attacks. I know guns are used in domestic violence. I know there are too many people in possessions of firearms for nefarious purposes. I know it. You know it.
I know there are too many people dying. You know that too.
We pray for the victims and their families, but we have to start praying as well for the children who may be the next victim before they become a statistic. We bark bravado in the heat of the moment, but we have to commit to continue after the news moves into the next cycle. Our leaders talk, but they have to commit to act. I know it. You know it too.
Here’s what I do not know. I don’t know what the answer is to gun violence and mental health issues. I don’t. I do know that if we can deny a person their constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness because of their own culpability then, certainly, we can justifiably deny a person their constitutional right to possess a firearm due to their culpability.
We’re already too late to help save the next man. We’re already too late to save the next woman. They died as you read this. Our action must come before they massacre the next school.