A thought on tragedy

Sometimes I think I read too much social media.

As most who are not under rocks or out of range of news broadcasts know, the last few days have featured two mass shootings, one in Ohio and one in Texas. But rather than focus on the victims, these incidents have become political footballs as each side of the political aisle tries to blame the other, at times darkly intoning that the history of these shooters is being whitewashed in order to make their side look bad.

Yet there is one fact that remains: the perpetrators (one of whom survived in Texas, the other being killed by police in Ohio) decided to take a weapon ordinarily reserved for self-defense and use it in an offensive manner, with a provocation that existed only in their twisted minds. (And note: when I say “weapon ordinarily reserved for self-defense” I mean guns as a class of weapon, not the specific type or caliber selected by these individuals.)

It goes without saying that those on the other political side from me will complain that “thoughts and prayers” are ineffective and the time has come for significant action, such as banning so-called “assault rifles” and “weapons of war” from our streets. Yet consider where these perpetrators chose to create their mayhem – it’s been reported that the one who was killed went on his rampage for less than a minute before being engaged by law enforcement and shot to death. On the other hand, the Texas assailant chose a “gun-free zone” and indeed, it’s apparent most respected that rule – the one who reportedly was carrying chose not to respond in kind for fear the police would believe he was the shooter, so he led others to safety.

I’m just not convinced more gun restrictions will be the answer because that cat’s long since been out of the bag. People won’t give up their guns without a fight, and that’s a fight few in law enforcement really wish to tangle with.

Sadly, I’m afraid the fix is not one that can be immediately implemented. for it’s a generational change that has less to do with weaponry and more to do with respect for life. It’s often been noted that rifles and shotguns were often brought to school a couple generations ago, although in those cases they were locked in a truck in the school parking lot because they were used for hunting. Let’s assume that was so, then ask why school shootings weren’t a weekly occurrence?

And it’s funny – the more we talk about anti-bullying policies and legislation in school, the worse these incidents seem to be becoming. Both shooters in these incidents were young men, under 25, so they’ve grown up in this era of low bullying tolerance and so-called peaceful conflict resolution, yet they struck back in this manner.

Maybe if we got back to the idea that life is sacred because there’s a higher power who commanded us not to kill, well, perhaps we will quit blaming the inanimate object. But that’s not coming anytime soon.

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