May 24, 2022- Fifteen people, who probably started their day with thoughts of a looming summer, ended it outside their bodies-gone to a higher realm. Fourteen of them had barely scratched the surface of this life. The fifteenth had so much more to offer, in the way of helping young people build their lives.
For that matter, an angry young man-raging for God knows what reason, chose to take that anger out on the helpless, the innocent. He might have chosen to state his anger in a productive way, taking the long road of peaceful protest and resistance to authority figures whose agenda seems to be the chipping away of legitimate rights for people of colour and others-but he chose to sow chaos and pain.
The reactions, far and wide, to the Uvalde massacre have been largely typical: Those who fear the loss of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution are taking the lead, already, in politicizing the tragedy. Blaming their political opponents, calling for locking up the mentally ill and placing armed guards in the schools are reactions that have been offered so many times that they have become cliche’, almost cartoonish.
So, what do those who want to see the carnage stopped, be we liberal or conservative, suggest? I can only speak for myself, from a place outside partisanship.
I am not in favour of repealing the Second Amendment. I am in favour of making sure that one and all understand the U.S. Constitution, in its entirety. That takes Civics Education. I am in favour of firearms safety-handling, firing and cleaning, being a prerequisite for anyone seeking to own and operate a weapon. I had that opportunity as a child, and as a young adult-and took advantage of it. So did my late wife and so did our son. True firearms training entails having respect for the firearm.
I am not in favour of locking up anyone whose behaviour is erratic. I am in favour of locking up firearms-and other deadly weapons that may be carried into public spaces-and I am in favour of this being done-first by the legitimate owners of said weapons, or if they refuse or fail to do so, by lawfully constituted agencies of public order. I am in favour of a National Registry of firearms owners, with identification cards. This last is not 100% foolproof-no system of identification ever is- but it will greatly lessen the likelihood that a crazed individual-whether on the political right or left, or of no clear ideology at all, will be able to wreak havoc.
I come to this conversation, honestly, having actually taken action that helped prevent a school shooting-twice. The first involved locating, seizing and turning over to the police, a long rifle and a pistol that were intended to be used in a targeted attack on an elementary school. The plotters were identified, arrested and received proper retribution. The second involved notifying the police of an active threat against one of the staff members, at another school where I was an administrator. The police then took possession of two weapons, which the owner admitted he was going to use on the staff member and his family.
We have no choice but to pay attention-to our surroundings, to our family, friends and co-workers and to the pain that is being inflicted. We can learn Civics, firearms safety and acceptance of responsibility.
This is the way it has actually always been. The rest is mythology.