I drove my daughter to school today.
She thanked me for the ride, I wished her a good day, and she toddled off to the middle school doors.
Her khaki pants needed ironing, her pony tail was coming loose and she hefted her backpack onto her shoulder like a sack of potatoes.
All I could do was smile wistfully.
Parents and guardians know that feeling – a little piece of your heart walking away from you.
Imagine what the parents of the 19 children who were killed yesterday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, might have felt.
I wonder if the parents of the two adults killed in the shooting gave a thought to their grown children during what may have seemed like just another busy day at the end of the academic year.
We’re all so preoccupied. We tend to forget that every goodbye could be our last.
This marks the 27th school shooting with injuries or deaths so far in 2022.
It comes just 10 days after a shooting at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., where 10 people were killed.
There’s hardly enough time anymore to mourn one disaster before the next one hits.
One would think we would have done something about these tragedies by now.
After all, they aren’t unpredictable. They aren’t inevitable. They’re man-made.
There have been 119 school shootings since 2018, according to Education Week, a publication that has been tracking such events for the last four years.
This only includes incidents that happen on K-12 school property or on a school bus or during a school sponsored event when classes are in session.
If we broaden our definition, there is much more gun violence in our communities every day.
According to The Gun Violence Archive, an independent data collection organization, there have been 212 mass shootings so far this year.
There were 693 mass shootings last year, 611 the year before and 417 the year before that.
Why don’t we do anything about this?
In Scotland 26 years ago, a gunman killed 16 kids and a teacher in Dunblane Primary School. The United Kingdom (UK) responded by enacting tight gun control legislation. There hasn’t been a school shooting in the UK since.
After 51 worshippers were killed in mass shootings at Christchurch and Canterbury in New Zealand in 2019, the government outlawed most military style semiautomatic weapons, assault rifles like AK15’s, and initiated a buyback program. There hasn’t been a mass shooting there since.
In Australia, following a 1996 mass shooting in which 35 people were killed in Tasmania, Australian states and territories banned several types of firearms and bought back hundreds of thousands of banned weapons from their owners. Gun homicides, suicides, and mass shootings are now much less common in the country.
This is not hard.
The rest of the world has cracked the code. Just not us.
Not the U.S.
Guns are the leading cause of death for American children – 1 out of 10 people who die from guns in this country are 19 or younger.
Firearm deaths are more than 5 times higher than drownings.
But still we do nothing.
There have been 2,032 school shootings in the US since 1970, and these incidents are increasing. We’ve had 948 school shootings since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.
And those who were killed or physically injured aren’t the only young people affected by this. Since the shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, nearly 300,000 students have been on campus during a school shooting.
Imagine what that does to a child.
Imagine what it would do to an adult.
Since Sandy Hook, the only change in policy has been to have lockdowns and school shooter drills in our classrooms. Children have been instructed to throw books at would-be-attackers and cause a distraction so some of them might have a greater chance of escaping.
We’re told to buy bullet-proof backpacks, arm school teachers, and have gun-wielding police patrol our buildings – but our lawmakers refuse to do anything about the firearms, themselves.
The gun industry is making billions of dollars off this cycle of gun violence: mass shooting, fear of regulation, increase in sales. Repeat ad infinitum.
We’re told that gun control is useless because new laws will just be pieces of paper that criminals will ignore. However, by the same logic, why have any laws at all? Congress should just pack it in, the courts should close up. Criminals will do what they please.
We may never be able to stop all gun violence, but we can take steps to make it more unlikely. We can at least make it more difficult for people to die by firearm. And this doesn’t have to mean getting rid of all guns. Just regulate them.
According to the Pew Research Center, when you ask people about specific firearm regulations, the majority is in favor of most of them – both Republicans and Democrats.
We don’t want the mentally ill to be able to buy guns. We don’t want suspected terrorists to be able to purchase guns. We don’t want convicted criminals to be able to buy guns. We want mandatory background checks for private sales at gun shows.
Yet our lawmakers stand by helpless whenever these tragedies occur because they are at the mercy of their donors. The gun industry owns too many elected officials.
In short, we need lawmakers willing to make laws. We need legislators who will represent the overwhelming majority of the public and take sensible action to protect the people of this country.
What we need is real gun control legislation. We need an assault weapons ban. We need to close the gun show loophole. We need buyback programs to get the mountains of firearms off the streets and out of the arsenals of a handful of paranoid “survivalists”.
We don’t need anyone’s thoughts and prayers.
We need action.
And we need it yesterday.
At this point there is simply no excuse.
If you don’t support gun control, you support school shootings.
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