It's About More than Gun Control
It’s not just about gun violence.
Of course, I see the role guns play in today's mass shootings, I am 100% for gun control* but there's also the question of “why?” Yesterday, why did an 18-year-old go on a shooting rampage that targeted the most innocent of humanity - young children.
Why did 13-year-old Mitchell Johnson and 11-year-old Andrew Golden kill a teacher and four students and wound ten others as Westside Middle School?
Why did Why did 15-year-old Kip Kinkel kill his parents then drive to Thurston High School, where he killed two students and wounded 25 others?
Why did 25-year-old engineering student Charles Whitman fatally shot 15 people and wounded 31 more during a 96-minute shooting rampage at the University of Texas?
Why did 18-year-old Eric Harris and 17-year-old Dylan Klebold kill 12 students and one teacher and injure 21 additional people at Columbine High School?
Why did 16-year-old Jeff Weise, kill his grandfather and grandfather's friend, then drive to Red Lake Senior High Schoo and kill five students, one teacher and one security guard, and wound seven others? before entering a gunfight with police officers, that resulted in him committing suicide.
Why did A 23-year-old Seung-Hui Cho kill thirty-two students and faculty members at Virginia Tech and wound another seventeen students and faculty members in two separate attacks?
Why did 27-year-old Steven Kazmierczak shoot multiple people with a shotgun in a classroom of Northern Illinois University, killing five and injuring 21?
Why did 20-year-old Adam Lanza go to Sandy Hook Elementary School after killing his parents, and kill 20 first graders and six adults?
Why did 15-year-old freshman, Jaylen Fryberg, shoot five students in the school cafeteria of Marysville Pilchuck High School, fatally wounding four?
Why did 26-year-old student Christopher Harper-Mercer, open fire in a hall on the Umpqua Community College campus, killing eight students and one teacher, and injuring nine others?
Why did 19-year-old former student, Nikolas Cruz, shoot and kill 17 students and staff members and injure 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School?
Why did 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis, kill 10 students at Santa Fe High School?
Why did 15 year old Ethan Crumbley go to Oxford High School and kill 4 people and injure 7?
And finally, why did 18-year-old Salvadore Ramos shoot and kill 21 people, 19 students and two adults, at Robb Elementary School yesterday?
Out of these 16 people 10 were under the age of 20 with the average age being
between 15 - 18 years old, and one was only a child at age 11.
Yes, we need to do something about access to guns, especially automatic assault rifles. But should we also try to do something about what provokes someone to commit this type of massacre at a school, or church, or shopping center, or military base or nightclub, etc?
Most of us have access to guns if we want one. I could go down to my local sporting goods store, Turner’s Outdoorsman, and purchase a gun right now. In fact I have done that multiple times over the years when shooting at a range was one of my hobbies. Each time I’ve had to pass a DOJ (Dept of Justice) background check, pass a written test and physically prove I know how to handle a gun. Then I had a ten day wait to go pick the gun up - they do this specifically so that if you are planning to use the gun for violence of any kind, you have to wait ten days, you can’t purchase a gun in a rage and walk out of the store with it that day.
So there IS a form of gun control, but there are plenty of ways to get a gun without buying it legitimately so these laws are really for us - the people that are most likely not going to use them to commit any type of crime. Gun owners need to be responsible to keep their guns locked up (would Keven still be here today if my gun were under lock and key that day? I don't know, and yes I live with a tremendous amount of guilt and have horrific nightmares about it).
Also when we're talking about gun control - are we talking about all types of guns or just ARs (assault rifles). It would have been much more difficult for some of these shooters to kill so many people without an AR, there has to be control over these weapons and the average citizen shouldn’t own them, they were created for mass destruction.
Everywhere I read today the gun issue is brought up far more often than the “Why?” Maybe we don’t need to know why. Maybe it's obvious why - because these young men are angry and full of hate for themselves and others.
In my naive sounding opinion it all goes back to the way we treat each other. After losing Keven I joined two FB groups for parents that had lost their children to suicide.
Every single day more and more parents share about their kids - how old they were and why they chose to take their own lives. The VAST MAJORITY of these kids are under the age of 25, most of them in the mid-teens, a lot of them under the age of 13.
It rips my heart apart every time I see a new innocent face on those sites. Sometimes I have to take a break for a few days for my own self care but I always go back because I want to be there for those parents. The comments and love poured out to each parent is powerful, and most of us stick around to comfort the new parents. The group keeps growing.
Here’s my point - the most common reason I’ve seen over and over again for the reason for suicide is bullying.
That’s the consensus behind the Columbine shootings - most people believe it was the bullying they endured that caused those two young men to do what they did. Of course that's not an excuse for what they did - but would they have done it if they hand't been bullied?
My generation grew up with the adage "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me", which of course it BS. Words are far more damaging than sticks and stones and the wounds they cause can last a lifetime. I was never bullied, just teased for being shy and awkward. Keven was bullied. There's a huge difference.
Back in my day kids didn't seem quite as cruel. Social media has changed EVERYTHING for today's youth. EVERYTHING. I grew up with family, friends, extended family and schoolmates. That was world. My peers were kids in my class and on my street. Nowadays a bully can put something mean or embarrassing online for the world to see. They not only bully kids in person but can bully them 24/7 online. Its scary. Its harmful. Its ugly.
Once again, I believe that a little kindness goes a long way. And a lot of kindness can change a person's life. The same goes for the opposite. What can we do?
be role models for the younger generations
closely monitor our kid's online lives
not allow violent video games in our homes
teach our children to be kind and to stand up to bullies
teach our children that "hurt people hurt people" (the bullies are often mean out of their own pain)
shit, I don't know what else, this all sounds so simplistic I'm almost embarrassed to post it
I have no answers. We're all grieving today. We can turn our heads and think of it as the governments problem to solve, but that hasn't done a damn thing at this point.
This morning I drove by my cities U.S. flag flying at half-mast. The lives of the victim's families and of every child in that school, and the lives of all the children that heard about this shooting, are forever changed.
That flag also reminded me that this type of school shooting usually happens here in the USA. The land of the free and the home of the brave.
Our children are not free when they have to be brave just to go to school.
(Here’s an article with references about the connection between school shootings and bullying.)
*There's a difference between gun control and 2nd Amendment Rights - I still want my right to own a gun if I choose.