Way back when I was in middle school, I was a bit of a math nerd. I participated in Mu Alpha Theta competitions with a team from my school. One of the competitions was at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.
I know people who went to school there. If it were 20 years ago, they would have been on campus when it happened. But, I don’t need a shooting at a school near me to drive the point home that we have a problem.
Depending on how you define “school shooting” there have been either 18 or 7 school shootings this year. For the sake of argument, we’ll go with the 7 because they most closely match incidents that resemble Columbine.
We 48 days into the year and we’ve had SEVEN school shootings. That’s about one shooting per week. There have been school shootings more often I’ve been to the movies this year. There have been school shootings more often than I’ve gone out to dinner this year. There have been more school shootings this year than I’ve had manicures. Think about that. Let it sink in.
We’re also hearing the same bullshit again: This isn’t a gun issue, it’s a mental health issue.
First, it’s both. We have a disturbing tendency to see things as one thing or another, rarely acknowledging the reality that issues are complex. I’m not sure when we stopped seeing things on a continuum. Is it the clickbait world we live in? Maybe that everything is being broken down into 15-second sound bytes? We have to learn to talk about these issues as comprehensively as possible. That means addressing guns and people.
Second, cut the shit about it not being a gun problem. Could the shooter have done what he did with a gun that’s not an AR-15? No. Could he have killed people other ways? Yes, but that’s not the fucking point. Pedophiles can get hard photos of child pornography instead of finding them on the internet. We don’t throw our hands up and say, “Well, he can get the material elsewhere, we’ll just let him surf the web for it.” Just because someone can kill people in a variety of ways doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work to do something about it. Guns are easier to obtain than something like explosives and require less skill to operate.
Third, it can’t just be a mental health issue. Lots of people have mental health issues and they aren’t running around shooting up schools (or anything else for that matter). Someone’s mental health may be a contributing factor, but it’s not the factor. He has a history of violent outbursts and has expressed his desire to kill people. This definitely warranted more investigation than was ever done.
What I find interesting is that many people who oppose gun control legislation had no problem with the USA PATRIOT Act. One of our fundamental freedoms is privacy and the Patriot Act absolutely interfered with it. I have a feeling that has to do with them feeling like they were never going to be under suspicion for terrorist activity, but that any changes to gun laws would hurt them. Never mind that children are dying for what would likely amount to very little change for most gun owners.
We aren’t past the time for thoughts and prayers on gun legislation. There was never a time when thoughts and prayers were the answer. It doesn’t make any sense that we continue to avoid legislation on the issue. Doctors don’t write prescriptions for thoughts and prayers. Drunk driving is against the law. It’s harder to get a license to practice cosmetology than it is to buy a gun.
Thoughts and prayers aren’t going to fix our problem. People have been praying for thousands of years and horrible things still happen all over the world. Thinking without action is pointless. We need to DO something. We need to do what is in our power to control. We can’t stop mental health issues, even when someone is on court-ordered medication. We can make it harder for people to buy guns, particularly certain classes of guns.
If legislators won’t do their jobs, we need to help them become unemployed so someone who will enact sensible gun control legislation is in the office.