Another Mass Tragedy, What Are We Going To do?

The problem is, because we don’t know where to draw a line we draw a wide line, sometimes not even recognizable as a line.

When the nation is shocked by a mass killing, especially when young people are violently murdered, we naturally, and rightly, cry out for a stop to the innocent being murdered because some sick person wants to hurt others. If you are a parent of one killed, or a child or wife or husband of an adult killed, the personal pain is unbearable. They should not have been so cruelly taken from you.

I really would like to take more time before I respond so more and better answers will filter out and speculation can be put back in the closet. I fear I can’t because battle trenches have been dug and those inside are lobbing grenades at each other, some in offense, some in defense. The issues being thrown at us are not new, they’re old and tired but they are mostly still on the battlefield as raw as they ever were.

Guns kill people. No, people kill people, guns are just one way of doing the deed. Something new has been added to the battlefield, mental illness. It’s not my point to walk through the battlefield and point out the unexploded grenades and make comments about them. What I hope we would see is that everyone is right, in places, and everyone is wrong, in places.

Therapists will tell you it’s never good to make decisions in the midst of a terrible hurt. Never act out of anger, let the dust settle before you make a decision or take an action. Why? Because at those moments you are filled with nothing but raw emotions that clouds what you see and how you access what to do. Of course, everything inside us is telling us to act right now and all that adrenalin begins to make us nervous inside and won’t settle down until we act.

We just witnessed 17 mostly teenagers brutally murdered by a 19-year old mentally disturbed boy who with a rifle just blasted away hoping to kill as many as he could. We’re mad as a society that this kind of thing has happened again.

Filling the trenches on one side of this battlefield are those screaming GUN CONTROL! They won’t say out loud what they really mean, confiscate all guns so there aren’t any guns around for bad guys to get their hands on. In the other trenches across the battlefield are those screaming SECOND AMENDMENT! And they argue that of all the people who own guns only a very, very tiny number of gun owners (or carriers for the illegal guns) use their guns to kill someone.

As it turns out, many of those who do mass killings are social outcasts, loners, depressed because they feel different than others do, want to hurt others for their hurt, want to feel fame for being a mass killer, emotionally disturbed, and some level of mental illness. Typically those around them knew they were disturbed, know they are dangerous (though don’t imagine they will become mass killers), and these people typically have a presence on social media expressing their feelings that when we look backwards after they have killed we see all the signs.

In 2017 there were 10 mass killings. In a population of 350 million people over 3,000,000 people owned guns, and these are legal owners. Just talking mass killings. You do the math.

I’ve been reading the comments and they are what I expected, a lot of misleading facts supporting the writer’s view. No really thought out arguments. I understand their sentiments, it’s just that I know this is how we’ve always reacted and so we’ve never found any satisfactory answers. We’re still arguing the same, tired talking points. I’m sorry, it’s not as simple as get rid of guns, add more controls over them. No, England and Australia are not better off after ineffectively banning guns. No, Chicago and Baltimore and New York City are not better off banning guns. It’s just not that simple and wishing it so doesn’t make it so. Until we as a people decide to seriously ask questions and seek answers to the violence in society leaving nothing off the table we won’t answer the need. We’ve never done this, we’ve just knee-jerked the issues around. We all have right answers and we all have wrong answers but until we honestly dialogue about them and stop throwing grenades those issues will still be with us and we will have gotten nowhere.

Sadly, I seriously doubt we can do this. We can’t even do this in our legislature where there, too, it’s nothing but bomb throwing. And we wonder why there is still violence? How do we do this? We let each other talk out our feelings with no responses, taking notes not on how you want to respond but on what points they have that might be right. That’s round one. Then we begin talking again asking those questions raised because we’ve better understood the other’s concerns. We keep talking in honesty until we’ve come to what we all understand are the real issues and real answers to those issues. We haven’t done this in a long time, but we have done this before. It’s how we got a wonderful Constitution. But, yes, in the end not everyone was happy but we found something that actually worked.

Do you know why the doors were locked in Independence Hall during that first Convention of State’s legislators? Because no one wanted representatives playing to the audience but seriously talking to each other. Maybe we ought to turn the cameras off in Congress today so they stop playing to the audience and seriously talk to each other.

I’m going to repost a letter from a teacher reacting to the tragedy in Florida. It’s something to put on the table and talk about, honestly and seriously and leave the bombs at home.

Kelly Guthrie Raley
Eustis, FL · 

Okay, I’ll be the bad guy and say what no one else is brave enough to say, but wants to say. I’ll take all the criticism and attacks from everyone because you know what? I’m a TEACHER. I live this life daily. And I wouldn’t do anything else! But I also know daily I could end up in an active shooter situation.

Until we, as a country, are willing to get serious and talk about mental health issues, lack of available care for the mental health issues, lack of discipline in the home, horrendous lack of parental support when the schools are trying to control horrible behavior at school (oh no! Not MY KID. What did YOU do to cause my kid to react that way?), lack of moral values, and yes, I’ll say it-violent video games that take away all sensitivity to ANY compassion for others’ lives, as well as reality TV that makes it commonplace for people to constantly scream up in each others’ faces and not value any other person but themselves, we will have a gun problem in school. Our kids don’t understand the permanency of death anymore!!!

I grew up with guns. Everyone knows that. But you know what? My parents NEVER supported any bad behavior from me. I was terrified of doing something bad at school, as I would have not had a life until I corrected the problem and straightened my ass out. My parents invaded my life. They knew where I was ALL the time. They made me have a curfew. They made me wake them up when I got home. They made me respect their rules. They had full control of their house, and at any time could and would go through every inch of my bedroom, backpack, pockets, anything! Parents: it’s time to STEP UP! Be the parent that actually gives a crap! Be the annoying mom that pries and knows what your kid is doing. STOP being their friend. They have enough “friends” at school. Be their parent. Being the “cool mom” means not a damn thing when either your kid is dead or your kid kills other people because they were allowed to have their space and privacy in YOUR HOME. I’ll say it again. My home was filled with guns growing up. For God’s sake, my daddy was an 82nd Airborne Ranger who lost half his face serving our country. But you know what? I never dreamed of shooting anyone with his guns. I never dreamed of taking one! I was taught respect for human life, compassion, rules, common decency, and most of all, I was taught that until I moved out, my life and bedroom wasn’t mine…it was theirs. And they were going to know what was happening because they loved me and wanted the best for me.

There. Say that I’m a horrible person. I didn’t bring up gun control, and I will refuse to debate it with anyone. This post wasn’t about gun control. This was me, loving the crap out of people and wanting the best for them. This was about my school babies and knowing that God created each one for greatness, and just wanting them to reach their futures. It’s about 20 years ago this year I started my teaching career. Violence was not this bad 20 years ago. Lack of compassion wasn’t this bad 20 years ago. And God knows 20 years ago that I wasn’t afraid daily to call a parent because I KNEW that 9 out of 10 would cuss me out, tell me to go to Hell, call the news on me, call the school board on me, or post all over FaceBook about me because I called to let them know what their child chose to do at school…because they are a NORMAL kid!!!!!

Those 17 lives mattered. When are we going to take our own responsibility seriously?