A cliché more worthless than ‘thoughts and prayers’
Nineteen children, little innocents ages 7 to 10 — many still believing in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy — gunned down 05-24-22 in Uvalde, Texas. And two adults. Dammit to hell!
UPDATE: The shooter targeted a fourth grade classroom.
The President says something must be done. We agree. But what? The right to bear arms is as much a right as the First Amendment that guarantees free speech. But crying fire in a crowded theater is not protected, nor is libel or lying on a FISA application (we think). Guns are regulated in the United States. Even in Texas. The question is to what degree.
Most of the school shooters are young
- The Uvalde shooter bought an AR-15 style firearm on or just after his 18th birthday.
- Earlier this May 2022, a 17-year-old killed 10 in a Houston TX area high school.
- The shooter at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas H.S. in Florida was 20 when he killed 14 students and three school staff.
- The Sandy Hook elementary school shooter was 19 when he killed 20 first graders and 6 educators in December 2012 in Connecticut.
- Columbine high school in April 1999 was the grandaddy of school shootings. The two shooters were aged 17 and 18.
Where and how, for that matter, did Khari Sanford — at age 18 — get the gun he used to kill Dr. Beth Potter and her husband Robin Carre, execution-style? That’s never been explored but how would you prevent it? The perp had no criminal record, was not adjudged mentally ill. Hell, he even served an internship with Mayor Satya Rhodes Conway.
Wisconsin already outlaws firearms on school grounds as a Class I felony. Must be 21 year old to carry a concealed firearm. But open carry is legal at age 18. Certainly, that could be increased to age 21. But does anyone really think those laws will stop the next school shooter?
Go ahead: require fingerprints, a background check (as is required by Wisconsin for concealed carry), hours of training, a written exam, a shooting proficiency test. Restore the five-day waiting period. (The Uvalde shooter waited until he was 18.) Throw in a mental health exam. Require liability insurance. (If only we could get automobile drivers to do the same!) To date, 76 people have been killed by gunfire in Milwaukee, alone. Six of them children. Anyone think the murderers would obey more gun laws?
Red flag laws might help but they require extensive court proceedings that put the burden of proof on the petitioner.
Cowards choose soft targets
Think the shooters don’t recognize that schools represent soft targets? Where most of the occupants, being children, are defenseless. Places where guns are banned. Does America suffer a plague of shootings at police stations? Gun shows? Cabela and Bass Pro shops?
The teen years are when mental health issues seem to manifest; perhaps we can do more. But the National Association of Mental Illness says, “Less than 10% of shootings nationwide involve people with mental illness.”
UPDATE: Robb elementary school had a school resource officer on site, thanks to state funding. That official “encountered” the killer, causing him to drop a bag of ammo. UPDATE #2: CNN Reports Nobody confronted the shooter from the time he left his grandmother’s house to the time he entered the school. The shooter, [authorities] said, “walked in unobstructed, initially.”
Yes, harden school buildings against unauthorized individuals. Much of that has already been done here in Madison. Restore school resource police officers to Madison’s high schools; add them to our middle schools, even if on a part-time basis. We repeat this bold proposal (Texas already does it):
Allow licensed school staff proving special competence
to carry weapons in all our schools.
Blaska’s Bottom Line: We do believe a good man with a gun is the surest protection against a bad man with a gun. That is how the shooting at Uvalde stopped — but not until those good guys arrived at the scene.