If people had ever heard of Uvalde, Texas before last week, it was probably in context of being the home town of movie star Matthew McConaughey. In a matter of about 45 minutes one evil teenager changed all that, as we know. Now, wouldn’t it be a fitting tribute for the town to be remembered as the place where the straw broke the camel’s back and things began to change for the better?
21 dead, 19 of them small kids, because one piece of human refuse was having a bad day. Because he supposedly had been bullied when he was younger. Because he didn’t like his low-wage job at Whataburger. And mostly because he could go out and celebrate his birthday by buying two assault rifles, guns designed to be used by the army in a war. Days before that, Buffalo, New York made the headlines for reasons other than the usual snowstorms because another 18 year old was disgruntled to see so many Black people around and fancied himself an action hero in some sort of real-life killing video game. And had access to weapons of war.
The little bodies weren’t even put into the Uvalde ground before 10 people got shot at a wild party in Charleston, SC (where the party-goers met the responding police with more gunfire). It was the 151st mass shooting of this year in the U.S. I don’t know if it was just before or just after the six kids, under 16 years of age, were shot in Chattanooga; the police there note some of those youth were “unintended victims”…but you know what happens when some high school age, or junior high school age kids run into each other on the street and one looks at another in a funny way. Two nights back, in my home city area, four people were shot at one location, only two blocks and less than 24 hours or so away from where one woman shot another…while police were investigating another disturbance a further block away. They just followed the sound of gunfire. So routine is that becoming that it was only the fourth or fifth top story on most local news sites. A new high school principal being hired was ranked more important by one TV station website. And of course, last night an evil man with a backache decided to shoot up his doctor’s clinic in Tulsa.
We could go on and on, but by now we all get the point – we’re in a gun violence epidemic and it’s showing no signs of going away. As McConaughey put it eloquently, “we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us.” He adds, “every American (needs) to take a longer look in the mirror and ask ourselves ‘what is it that we truly value? How do we repair the problem?”
Sadly, a complete repair probably won’t happen, at least not in our lifetimes. There are too many guns out there, too many irresponsible hotheads, too many who value the Second Amendment above all else to make the problem go away. However, I don’t believe that means we can do nothing to ease the toll, reduce the body count and make us somewhat safer, whether shopping at a grocery store or sending our little children to the classroom. It’s ridiculous to call for a ban on guns altogether or anything remotely like that. Few politicians would even consider it, and fewer citizens would bother obeying anyway. There are too many of them and they’re too much a way of life in parts of the land. But there are some things we could do that I think the majority might consider. Such as –
Ban sales of AK-47/AR-15 style assault weapons. Vice President Harris said, in response to the Uvalde shooting, “assault weapons (are) designed for a specific purpose – to kill a lot of human beings quickly. An assault weapon is a weapon of war, with no place in civil society.” Little surprise they are a weapon of choice then for uncivil street gangs and deranged loner gunmen. Just as banning guns is a non-starter, so too is outlawing hunting. But you don’t need one of those military-grade weapons to take a squirrel out of a tree or a canvasback out of the sky. Ban their sales and importation. Existing ones can be grandfathered in, but not sold or given away and if they are found in possession of criminals or used for any criminal act, they will be confiscated and destroyed. If that were to occur, even if (or when) evil psychopaths go on a rampage, the damage they inflict will be lessened if they’re restricted to ordinary hunting rifles or shotguns, or non-automatic handguns.
Raise the minimum age to buy guns to 21. It seems ludicrous that we don’t as a society, think 18 year olds responsible enough to have a beer or glass of wine…but we’ll allow them to buy as many weapons of war as they can afford. In many states, that 18 year old is too much a “boy” to be able to legally have sex with a girlfriend who’s six months younger than him, and in none of them can he buy a six pack of lite beer or a pack of cigarettes. What’s more, few lawmakers are clamoring to give them such rights. But there are few if any restrictions on the same “boy” buying semi-automatic, high-powered guns. Where’s the rationale relating to potential damage there?
Speaking of teens, if they’re old enough to be handling and using guns, they should be old enough to face the consequences. Treat young offenders in gun crimes like adult ones. By all means give 14, 15 year old non-violent offenders – the kids painting graffiti or maybe shoplifting a pair of shoes – a chance for redemption. For them the current system works. But the 14, 15 year olds who are killing others in gang fights, armed robberies, school shootings, and the like are not innocent children. They’re dangerous individuals who society should be protected from. If you like, house them in youth facilities until they hit 18 and move to grown-up jail… but don’t mistake them for little children who are just misbehaving a wee bit.
Institute tougher penalties – and mandatory mental evaluation – for animal cruelty offenders. I like animals, so I find these crimes abhorrent, but that isn’t relevant here. What is relevant is that a large percentage of mass-shooters have histories of abusing animals first. It’s seemingly the training ground for killing people with ease later in life. The Uvalde killer was reported beating a dog senseless in the weeks leading up to the school massacre. If we take such crimes more seriously, and get the offenders checked over by psychiatrists (with those found to have violent of sociopathic tendencies flagged to at least make their access to guns more difficult), tomorrow’s mass-shooter might be discovered today.
Work with social media to help do more to prevent it. I note, I do not blame the online sites – be it Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok, Twitch or anything else that comes along – for causing the killings or failing to prevent them. In many cases, including the Buffalo and Uvalde ones, the criminals put up messages on some of these outlets suggesting what might happen. The sites are just too busy to screen everything effectively. Instagram, for instance, report over 500 million people post to it daily. Even if they only put up one picture or clip per day, that’s half a billion posts to look through (and if you’ve ever looked at Instagram, you know that people and companies who like it like it a lot. Some seem to put up a post an hour more than a post a day.) However, with today’s technology, there must be AI filters around which can quickly find suspicious “red flags” – repeated pictures of multiple firearms, threatening phrases, gang (be they street gangs or cyber-extremist groups) code words. If Facebook can quickly see your face in someone else’s group photo and “tag” you, it should be able to quickly do the same with an AR-style rifle or racist dog-whistles for violence. Those posts could be more quickly looked at by authorities. We’ll never be ahead of all the criminals who are blatant enough to preview their attentions, but we could get the drop on some more than we do now.
And lastly, we need police to go back to acting like police all the time. I’m aware it’s a tough and demanding job and that right now, a sizable chunk of society look at them disapprovingly. I think the vast majority of them are good people trying to do a sometimes thankless, sometimes dangerous job. Rarely is it more dangerous than when confronted by sociopathic killers with semi-automatic weapons bent on destruction. But that is sadly, part of the job…even if they’re only street patrol officers or “school cops.” It was irresponsible for the police on scene at Uvalde to wait outside for upwards of 40 minutes as children and teachers were being shot, because they were waiting for an out-of-town, more highly-skilled SWAT team to come by. Forget the arguments that perhaps most of the victims were shot already by the time the first couple of police arrived. If so, it was only because the killer got bored. Seemingly he could have carried on and wiped out most of the students in the building before any police were willing to go in and confront him. This is not acceptable, even if it might be official policy on some forces which prefer SWAT to handle such things. It’s tough to make policy to cover every possible situation. Perhaps a robber holding hostages can be stalled and negotiated with while waiting for special squads to show. But the Buffalo supermarket freak and the Uvalde demon were not that. Bottom line is that if it’s an “Active” shooter, once there are at most a couple of officers on site, they need to go in and confront the killer and minimize his (or her) death toll. Give them bullet-proof vests by all means (most police wear them routinely already) and battle helmets if you like, but get them into the fray.
Mere suggestions, and I’m afraid, ones which won’t eliminate gun violence in the country. But we’d not be banning guns, stopping deer hunts or ownership of pistols or shotguns by law-abiding adults… nothing to step too hard on the toes of the advocates of the Second Amendment. And I believe they would significantly reduce the number of times we’re confronted with yet another Buffalo, or Columbine, or Uvalde. Once we take that McConaughey longer look in the mirror, it seems the very least we can do in good conscience.
8 Replies to “Time For Politicians Thoughts To Turn To Taking Action Not Offering More Prayers”
I’m just at a loss…it’s so crazy out there right now.
First of all…I totally missed this…sorry about this long-ass comment
First of all NO one needs an AK-47/AR-15…no one except the military…that’s it. Dave, I’m not a gun guy…I don’t even own one…they scare me…they really do but when I went to high school…7 out of every 10 trucks had a gun rack with guns. No one even thought about that happening. Why was that?
What got us here in this position? Lazy parents who pay no attention to signs or don’t punish their children? NO moral fiber in our society anymore? Games with every conceivable way to kill someone? Doctors over-prescribing kids’ drugs? To much cell phone and Facebook time? Too much time on their hands? No discipline at all? It’s not Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or WordPress’s job to babysit kids. Yes, you could have the red flag bot setup…nothing wrong with that.
We talk about kids getting a participation trophy and not winning and losing a game…I’m NOT saying that is the problem but you get what I’m saying. I’ve seen kids back talk to their parents (many of Bailey’s friends) and their parents would not do a damn thing. Some teachers would ask us…what is your secret with Bailey? When we said we punished him by spanking (not beating!)…their faces were in shock…like we were from medieval times. I haven’t spanked Bailey since he was 8 years old…and it really DID hurt me more than him.
He is not an angel but he knows right from wrong. The doctor talked about putting him on some behavior medication because he had so much energy when he was a kid at one point…we said absolutely NOT. He grew out of it and was fine. I’m not saying that some kids don’t need something but many drugs are overprescribed… and that is the easy answer.
One more suggestion would be the parents would SHARE the blame for the crime! Yes, they would be somewhat held responsible. Yes, I think there needs to be a strict background check…no doubt. I like the idea of trying kids as adults when they do this.
But the easy answer to this would be to say restrict guns (all politicians give that one)…and yes I agree with you about raising the age limit to 21. BUT…if people think it would stop…it won’t until we get to the root of the problem.
I’m not disagreeing at all with you because I like all of your suggestions. But in my opinion, if it were a gun ban…and we know that won’t happen…but IF…hat would not stop this. A quick search on the internet and they could build a bomb. I sound like a hard ass but it’s not about spanking…it’s about teaching them about right and wrong. Some kids have it so damn easy…no job…nothing because parents want them to have a better life than they did…I get that but they are hurting the kid in the long run.
It’s like those college kids a few years back complaining about having a “safe zones” to go when college pressure got too high??? Really? Life isn’t like that I’m sorry to say.
In other words…lay down the law on kids…not cruel but common sense. So yes I like your suggestions and I would add the parents be punished as well if they are 18 or so and under.
Dave I apologize for this drawn out comment! Hope you are doing good….
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I totally agree. I wonder if either of those latest mass shooters was on psychiatric drugs at the time…wouldn’t be a surprise. I actually meant to add that the age should be raised to 21 but also, if parents choose to give the younger ones access to guns and take them hunting or whatever, then they should potentially be charged alongside the kids with crimes the juveniles commit with them – not an automatic but a demand that law enforcement investigate and have option of charging the parents. If Junior takes the assault rifle and takes out a school bus because it was left lying around in the basement and daddy taught him how to shoot it, guess who’s going right to jail with him? I agree too that kids just aren’t disciplined and are coddled too much these days, and that contributes. They can’t handle even a little stress or pressure in many cases. I had a part time job as a stockboy at 14… basically if I wanted records, jeans (my mom would buy me some clothes but hated blue jeans) , things like that , I had to make the money myself. Chip Gaines (Fixer Upper guy) said something I thought was brilliant – and probably upsetting to many these days – when he was a young teen his folks told him “we’ll take care of your needs, but you have to provide for your wants.” So he was out mowing lawns , painting old houses, whatever. I think that develops mature adults . Overall, until we change the way we look at raising kids you’re right, we won’t eliminate the problem , so best we can do is try and reduce the frequency of these disasters and limit their potential damage as much as possible.
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Dave I didn’t mean to write such a long comment… I’m sorry about that. I JUST was talking about this to a friend of mine and I got on a roll… the comment should never be longer than the post lol.
I’ll reply properly when I get back home. I’m anxious to see if you heard of the Hoyt Axton song I posted yesterday. More people remembered it than I thought…todays Hoyt song was done by someone else.
I’ll reply soon Dave
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No need to apologize, it was a good & thought out comment so I have no problem with the length
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No one wants to be held accountable anymore. It’s always someone else’s fault. When I was a kid I had a job at a ranch feeding racehorses and paying my car off.
I didn’t want to give the impression either that Bailey is the perfect child…the boy has MANY flaws as well as me lol. But I’ve seen parents who just don’t want their kids out of sight out of mind.
But back to the point…no those weapons are not needed for any civilian. I just wish the politicians would get to the root of the problem and not just a band-aid. Make kids and parents accountable for their actions.
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Yep…parents these days seem split between atrocious, largely absentee poor role models and super-sensitive bubble wrap ones who try to shield the kids from all problems oblivious to the fact that working through problems & stress is necessary to succeed in adult life
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We probably went to far…but it’s like when we had financial difficulties…we would tell him exactly what was going on. Every kid needs to know problems come along so they can handle them.
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totally agree. I don’t know why so many of our generation can’t see that there’s a relation there … by and large teens today are more coddled than they ever have been before – usually not expected to work PT during high school, astounding amounts of electronics given to them, parents quick to complain loudly at school if they think their kid has been bullied or even insulted, many of the kids not doing chores around the house – and record high levels of teen suicide and psychiatric visits. Seems like you can’t talk to most under-25s for ten minutes without hearing how they’re either depressed and/or totally stressed by things like having to work 15 hours a week and see customers who wear clothes they don’t like or so forth.