Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Where do we go from here?

(Note:  I will be back with plenty of cardmaking and scrapbooking posts.  I just had these things on my mind today.)

I live in the south.  This is the country of God and guns.  And you could say that about a huge physical portion of the US. 

Students from Parkland High School have said they are going to be the last to be shot at.  I sincerely hope that is true.  Yet, I remember Columbine.  When we got over our shock, we were outraged. I remember Virginia Tech and Charles Gibons who normally ended his broadcast with something about hoping you had a good day ending that day with "And this has Not been a good day."  It still brings tears to my eyes.  I remember Newtown.  If dozens of parents holding up photos of their 6 year olds to Congress with a Democrat in the White House could not bring about a single change in gun laws or improve care of the mentally ill, what will?  How will these high school students make a difference if those highly motivated parents could not?  Almost everyone agrees that bump stocks should be banned. Yet months after over 50 people died in Las Vegas, they are still being sold.  I understand there was even a discount coupon available to buy one over President's Day weekend. 

The shooter from the church in Texas should have never had a gun because of his history of domestic violence. Yet a bill to reduce the chances of that failure happening again has gone nowhere.

I was thinking about writing this post when I got up this morning.  As I scanned several on-line news outlets I already noticed that other news is taking the place of Parkland.  US Figure skaters fell last night at the Olympics (no thank you to that spoiler from someone who has the skating taped because we don't want to stay up until midnight to watch!).  There was more about Russia, plenty of opinion about the President and his marriage.  There were still articles about Parkland yet they are getting crowded out.  It won't be long before this is not the lead story anymore.

It hasn't left my mind yet, obviously.  I've thought about 4 family members who work in 4 different public schools in two different states.  Any of them could become a target.  And of course there are many young family members who are students.  My mother and I went through a drive through on the way home from a child's birthday party on Sunday and I was a bit envious of the young woman waiting on us.  She was high school age and chatting with one of her colleagues as she waited on Mother's order to come up.  Ah, to be that young, to head off to high school on Monday morning.  And then it hit me that when she walks into the same school I went to over 30 years ago, she may wonder if today is the day someone is going to come in with a weapon and start picking people off. That never crossed my mind in the early 1980's.  Never. Suddenly being young again isn't very appealing.

So what do we do?  How do we stop school children and their teachers from getting shot?  How do we end the mass carnage of those gathered in public places? 

I think the problem is that there is no one fix.  We will never ban all guns in this country. Never.  Yet, I personally have no problems with enacting laws that restrict access for those who should not have weapons and make everyone safer.  Bump stocks should be banned immediately.  I personally see no reason anyone needs an assault rifle.  I looked up some statistics the other day.  Of the 23 mass shootings in the US that go back to the 1980's in which 10 or more people died, only 1 occurred during the 10 year period of the assault rifle ban.  That was Columbine.  It isn't just that these guns are so available.  It is that popular culture has made them attractive.  Video games, movies, TV have glorified their use, have glorified killing in general.  We must vote with our entertainment choices.  If we choose programs that minimize gun violence and avoid those that promote it, we are clear with Hollywood what we as a culture want. Hollywood, for all their talk, are like everyone else.  They go where the money is and will stop creating shows and movies that don't make money.

In the case of Parkland, it is clear that the FBI failed.  They received solid information and did not act.  Now I'm sure they get more tips in any one day than they can possibly act on yet they have admitted the content of this tip and that should have prompted an inquiry.  Someone or perhaps multiple someones should be fired.  Acknowledging their mistake quickly was a good first step.  Now fix it.  Let go the people at all levels who screwed up.  When I was in corporate America, a shakeup at the executive level had us buzzing for a couple of days but we soon settled down and went back to doing our jobs the same way we always had been.  Firing only the head of the FBI, which has been called for, isn't likely to make much difference.  After 911, only George Tenent, then director of the CIA, was the only one fired as far as I know.  Yet many mistakes occurred to make that event possible. 

When the FBI received their last tip, they had another tip from last September that should have matched up somewhere in some database and escalated this as a serious, probable concern.  Did it?  If not, fix the systems to make that happen.  In the last paragraph I'm advocating holding people responsible for doing their jobs because I'm convinced that there were human failures here.  Yet I know that wasn't all of it.  Systems need to be improved.

And if the FBI had investigated, could they have stopped this shooting?  A few states have a law that allows family members or police to petition a judge to remove gun rights to people who may become violent.  Florida is not one of those states. 

There were so many warning signs that Nicholas Cruz was going to become violent.  There were warning signs in Newtown, too. What have we done to change the way our agencies handle these signs?  I suspect they are underfunded and overworked.  That can be fixed or at least improved. 

We have not prioritized mental health care in this country for decades.  It's time that changed.  Those who oppose gun restrictions say this is a problem with the mentally ill and we should do more to treat them. True enough (though not the whole picture in my opinion) but what are we doing. Just blaming another problem doesn't get you off the hook.  We need our lawmakers in Washington and in our state governments to take this problem seriously and allocate funding accordingly.  There are plenty of things you can cut to make this happen because for all your calls for increased military spending, more Americans are dying at home.  The perpetrators of those crimes are US citizens or those who have been in this country most of their lives. 

This is an election year.  I hope that we will all not just vote for one party or another but to really listen to our candidates and really press them on the issues that matter to us.  "We get the government we deserve."  We have to do the work to make sure we get the government that serves us best.

1 comment:

  1. As an Australian, I don't understand the general idea behind the amendment to the Constitution that allows people in the US to bear arms. We had a terrible massacre here over 20 years ago and after that the government banned certain types of automatic guns. It is so sad that these kinds of tragedies seem to effect kids most of all. One thing I've noticed is that some of the survivors from this awful tragedy have now formed a movement to stop this type of thing happening again. Let's hope they get somewhere


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