by Lynn Mandaville
School shootings are part of a “crime wave” evolving in our country, says White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. (It started under the Obama administration, dontcha know.)
The White House is taking substantive steps toward addressing this specific problem, says the White House press secretary. (But no details are forthcoming from our president.)
“Thoughts and prayers are with the families” tweeted our president Donald Trump, in compassionate response to the latest school shooting in Benton, Kentucky.
“We are with you!” our president tweeted in 16 heartfelt characters, to the families of the victims of the latest school shooting in Kentucky.
So we’re good.
As a nation we’re good. We’re in good hands.
We are a sensitive people.
And because we are a sensitive people, it wasn’t time to talk about guns and gun control or mass shootings right after the Las Vegas shooting, when more than 50 human beings were killed and hundreds were gunned down by a lunatic, said our president, his press secretary and numerous politicians who receive generous campaign donations from the NRA. Weeks have passed since then, without news of substantive talking about these issues, and now another shooting. So I guess our sensitivity demands that now is not the time to talk about gun violence either.
On average, there is one school shooting per week in the United States. So, on average, once a week it is not time to discuss gun violence in schools. In Phoenix AZ, the news reports at least three killings by gun per week, some of them multiple. So at least three times per week in Phoenix AZ, sensitivity demands it is not time to talk about gun control. Multiply that by the number of major cities and small towns in the US to find out how many more times per week it is not the time to talk about gun violence in America.
But every time there is a major, tragic shooting that gets nationwide attention, the nation is awash in thoughts and prayers from the president to the Pope to church leaders to the average person who posts on Facebook. Apparently, thinking passively and praying passively are the sole, appropriate responses to horrific events. If good vibes were enough to solve this epidemic, a gun death would never happen again.
Yet our president and law makers and policy wonks exert no energy on even creating dialogue about gun violence. They could, for instance, discuss the mental health issues that lead to such events. They could, at the very least, give lip service to the fact that we, as a nation, have allowed mental health to have a very low priority on our national list of growing problems.
They could follow the rather lame lead of our First Lady to address bullying, whether cyber or in-your-face, which is so often the reason students turn on their classmates in school shootings. They could even give token attention to throwing money at these problems with the same reckless abandon they do to a southern border wall.
Instead, our collective breath is wasted on “thoughts and prayers,” as if that were enough to deter or assuage the pain and anguish of families like the Holts and Copes of Benton KY, or the post-traumatic reactions of their classmates, teachers, relatives, neighbors, and community.
Gun violence and school shootings don’t just have an effect on those who are shot. The repercussions are widespread. If the trend continues, or, worse yet, increases exponentially, there will be no one left in this country whose life has not been directly affected by such events.
But maybe that’s the good thing, right? Maybe, just maybe, that’s our silver lining!
Once all lawmakers know or are related to someone shot or killed in a school shooting, they will get together and talk about it. Once all members of the NRA know or are related to someone going through extensive and expensive rehabilitation from being shot in a workplace shooting, they will get together and re-evaluate the Association’s position on gun control.
Maybe, once every single member of American society has buried a family member who dies of gunshot wounds, there will be more active outrage than there are passive thoughts and prayers, and we can have real, honest, heartfelt discussion and action about a “crime wave” that happens more in this country than in any other developed nation on earth.
Maybe, just maybe, all those innocents won’t have been murdered for nothing.
My heart aches along with the hearts of millions of other Americans who believe our gun love is out of control. My mind despairs with the minds of millions of other Americans who believe our gun love is unnatural and self-destructive to our society.
Believe it or don’t, last Sunday in church, before the Kentucky school shooting took place, my mind was wandering during a rather uninteresting sermon, and I actually found myself looking around the vast auditorium and wondering where I would cower should an active shooter enter the building. I tried to calculate how quickly my husband and I could move our arthritic legs to the nearest exit. I wondered if I would have the courage and presence of mind to protect my son and daughter-in-law, the parents of my sweet grandsons, so that they could survive something that has the increasing possibility of occurring in such an innocuous place as church.
I was appalled that I, who basks in the eternal glow of optimism, could entertain these thoughts that came unbidden to my mind.
What will it take, America, to get us mad enough to say “enough?” Will each of us have to kneel in the blood of the person next to us at the movies? Will each of us have to wipe the blood-spatter off the face of our child who watched her best friend’s head explode? Will each of us have to hide in the beer cooler at 7-Eleven while innocents are cut in half by automatic gunfire?
My “thoughts and prayers” are offered that we don’t.