by Paul Dame
Just a few weeks ago we had another tragedy where a murderer was able to gain access to a school in Uvalde, Texas. There is still a sense of shock and frustration about what happened, and many questions left unanswered. There are the obvious questions specific to this incident, like how did the murderer get inside the school? Why did police do nothing while the murderer was inside?
But there are also deeper questions that we have to ask ourselves about the broader story. A story that goes back to 1999 and Columbine High School. It was the first mass school shooting to capture national attention.
A lot has happened since then, but not much has changed. Unfortunately, similar events unfolded at other schools in the following years. There have been 15 deadly mass shootings (which the FBI defines as having 4 or more victims) in the 20+ years since Columbine.
“Every time there is another shooting the pressure will mount making it harder and harder to resist until one day we snap like Australia and throw away our rights for lack of a better alternative.”
– GOP Chair Paul Dame
And every time a murderer makes their way in to the school the next day Democrats are on TV to belittle the moment for “thoughts and prayers” and whip out whatever gun control legislation they have on the shelf. They act as if the solution to school shootings is to either take some guns away from all people, or take all guns away from some people. But if that approach will help, how did this trend of school shootings START in the middle of the 1992 assault weapons ban? There must be something else going on.
This is a fundamental flaw in many solutions that Democrats often champion. They always have a solution that is simple to explain, but rarely addresses the underlying cause. It has the characteristic of “feeling” good, without objectively “doing” good.
But even if Republicans are right when we point this out – we can’t stop there. I stand with every other Republican who thinks the phrase “Shall not infringe” in the second amendment is pretty clear. But if we don’t come together to offer real solutions, then we are going to be stuck in this playback loop over and over again. And every time there is another shooting the pressure will mount making it harder and harder to resist until one day we snap like Australia and throw away our rights for lack of a better alternative.
If Republicans are serious about protecting our second amendment rights now and for the future we need to get serious about addressing this issue, and engaging in new conversations to find new solutions. I don’t have the answers. But we need to start asking the right questions.
The first question I have is “What is happening in our schools?” It seems like the pattern for these mass murders often involved a young white male, usually under 25 who often kills a family member first, and then heads to school. Why? That is the million dollar question. Why are they going to their school? What happened at their school that has filled them with such rage that they literally become mass murderers? What were the conditions like for similar young white men in the 90s (and before) that created an environment where this didn’t seem to happen so frequently? Is it the parenting? Society? School culture?
I honestly don’t have a lot of answers – but that sometimes means those are the best questions to ask if we want to get the understanding of the issues needed to get to the root of the problem. Clamping down on guns without addressing the underlying issue just means that we should be prepared to see the same kind of aggressive behavior, but without access to guns it may manifest itself in unexpected ways we are not as prepared for.
But in the meantime while we address the root cause, or at least learn how to better identify the people who are most likely to be affected by it, we ought to take a look at our schools. While the idea of putting a gun in the hand of every teacher is obviously a foolish non-starter, we ought to think about how we protect our community’s most valuable asset: our children.
No one wants our kids to get normalized to entering a school that feels more like a prison. Stationed armed guards, police, metal detectors, bag checks all seem to be measures that are antithetical to the fourth amendment and I don’t want my kids to be conditioned that they have to give up these rights to access education. But are there non-invasive ways that we can make it harder for threats to physically enter our school buildings? I think that there are, and thankfully my kids go to a school that have taken these precautious. But many kids do not. As much as Republicans want to be careful about spending while still in $30 Trillion of debt, I think giving our schools the equipment upgrades needed to protect our kids is something we can all make room for in the federal budget. And while I might only speak for myself, I would be willing to prioritize that over a lot of other things we spend federal money on, including the military. Republicans could make a good case that protecting our children at school might be one of the most important national “defense” strategies we have. Not only would this protect our children from an angry gunman, but also would-be bombers, gang members, drug dealers, sexual predators and child traffickers.
I don’t have all the answers, and neither do the Democrats, despite their blustery confidence. But I do know that if we are going to actually fix the problem in America, it is going to take Republicans being unwilling to merely cross our arms and simply say “No” and instead to do the work necessarily to start getting real answers to some of these underlying issues if we want an effective and enduring remedy to the problem of mass school murders. If we offer no better solution, then people will eventually fall for the impotent remedies offered by Democrats.