Otherwise, the news cycle will prove yet again that early outrage will be followed only by helplessness, and inaction.
My heart breaks for every parent of an innocent school-aged child today.
The 18-year-old deceased shooter was said to have been bullied, and recently posted photos of two AR15-style rifles on his Instagram.
I taught special education for a decade, working with students labeled as “severely emotionally disturbed” in New York and “severely at-risk” in California. Apparently, the Robb Elementary School shooter fit a common profile.
When I taught, threats of bringing weapons to school were not unusual and always reported, and many of those students with whom I worked until 2005 considered themselves as “not belonging,” or “outcasts.”
My perspective is personal.
In the hours since the latest tragedy, it has been reported that two border patrol agents and a security guard engaged the subject. As was reported on CNN, a “good guy with a gun” is no guarantee of anything against a “bad guy with a gun.”
Scant days following today’s rote round of “thoughts and prayers,” the mourning will end and the exploitation of at least 19 students and two adults will be engaged under our ongoing culture wars umbrella.
Imagine being a parent who told their now-late child to have a productive school day this morning. They’ll tune in to the news within the next week, and see their kids as pawns to arm teachers, arm parents, vote for one politician or the other ‘because’ of the tragedy… all the while as photos of the deceased students and a teacher fade in and out onscreen to soft music…
Yet nothing will happen if we do not change ourselves. Nothing, because this country’s politicians have trained its citizens, deliberately or otherwise, to fear and despise anyone who disagrees with them in the name of party.
And yes, this has all happened before cellphones and social media too, which only serves to punctuate my perspective.
By this time next month odds are we’ll witness a new collective statistic, and today’s tragedy like so many others will fade into the past. As a recent example, news reportage of the Buffalo mass shooting of one week ago and the subsequent political outrage had largely decreased and subsequently left the public consciousness until we were reminded today.
And so the cycle continues.
Does that cycle end? Does it ever become manageable?
What will it take?
The answer is we need to pause, right now. We need to place our political partisanship aside and act in the interests of the victims.
We need to change our mindsets, and whatever one’s interpretation of the Second Amendment may be, and all parties in influence must once and for all agree to a definition of “common sense gun laws” and enact them.
In the meantime, mental health checks of future gun owners are imperative.
These massacres do not happen in a vacuum. They happen when enabled gun owners take their frustrations and our laws into their own hands and allow their ire to be fed by snuffing the lives of others.
I am a former school teacher possessed of several supplemental years of training in Abnormal Psychology. I can speak on this with some authority.
Pointing fingers is no longer an option. Thoughts and prayers are not enough.
We need to change ourselves before we can ever get a grip on this scourge, or more innocent lives will be lost, teachers will search for safer professions, and homeschooling at the expense of socialization will become our children's most secure option.