Once again our flags fly at half staff. Last week’s tragedy in Parkland, Florida left us all reeling, stunned, angry, and demanding answers. Why does this keep happening in our country? What’s wrong with the system that we can’t prevent this kind of senseless carnage?
I have thoughts, but probably no one answer, because it is a complex subject, and no one answer will prevent these kinds of events.
However, it seems to me our very freedoms are part of what stops us from acting. My Canadian friends ask, “What’s the matter with you down there? Why can’t you make this stop?”
The incredibly articulate Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students say they knew something was wrong with the young man. They saw strange behaviors that made them concerned. Apparently, even the FBI had gotten tips about him. But our system is built on innocent until proven guilty. We don’t arrest someone because we think he may do something terrible. We don’t arrest a person on the worry from someone else that the person might be dangerous.
Think about the situation with spousal abuse. How many women have been killed after getting a restraining order against their boyfriend or spouse? There was evidence the person was dangerous, but until the person acts, the system doesn’t kick in. Not much happens before. Do I want the police to come arrest me because a neighbor gets bent out of shape over a fence and reports that I’m dangerous and might hurt them? Do you?
Do we need to take a long hard look at our system to find the middle ground?
I think so.
Someone on Facebook posted they were tired of hearing it was the parents’ fault. Other people blame the school system. And then we look to our laws, which seem to me to be woefully inadequate for this situation. Our media which glorifies violence is also a part of the problem. There are movies and “games” out there, you couldn’t pay me to look at. It’s probably all these things.
When I was a principal, I saw the results of parents not doing an adequate job for their kids. Hey, I get it, being a parent is the most difficult thing we attempt, mostly without training and with possibly inadequate role models. Many people become parents way before they’re financially able to sustain a family. (And yeah, I know if we waited until we were ready, we’d never have kids. LOL) But worries about money, needing to work two or three jobs make parenting an even tougher job. Kids suffer.
As a principal, I saw kids I feared would act out their anger, especially as they got older. Such anger they had, even in elementary school. Could I insist they see our school counselor? Not really. And our poor school counselors for the most part are burdened with managing all the standardized testing stuff, frequently cutting into the time they might spend counseling kids. At one point when I was a principal, our district took the step of contracting with an outside agency, where we could direct families in need of counseling. There was no cost to the families. Could I make them go? No. I had no enforcement ability. If the family was in denial, I was powerless. Not a good feeling.
The young people who survived the tragedy in their high school last week speak with clarity and passion. One young girl wiping tears from her eyes, yelled at legislators that if the guy had a knife he wouldn’t have killed 17 people. Hard to argue with that logic.
Yes, of course, guns don’t kill people. People kill people. But a person with an assault weapon can kill way more people than someone armed with a knife. Does any true sportsman need one of these assault weapons to hunt? Where’s the fairness in that? Where’s the challenge? You might as well, stake out a poor deer to a tree, and then shoot it. So brave. So much skill.
Eliminating the ability of a person to legally purchase an assault weapon and those bump stocks which give them even more fire power, seem a no brainer to me and to those young people. An yet, most of my Texas lawmakers (who receive money from the NRA) were this morning quoted or not (since some did not respond) in the Fort Worth Star Telegram as supporting our 2nd Amendment and against limiting in any way any person’s ability to buy one of these weapons whose only purpose is to kill lots of people in a small amount of time.
I tell you, if it weren’t for these Florida students, I’d be more concerned than I am. It gives me much comfort to hear them speak. Someone–parents, schools, and the students themselves–is doing a great job producing articulate, caring, motivated citizens. These kids will be our future elected officials. If the current elected officials won’t act to make our schools, churches, and gathering places safer, they will. Unfortunately, that means many more mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers will be attending a funeral for a loved one before we have this younger generation of activists in positions of power.
That’s terribly depressing.
In the meantime, let’s send our thoughts and prayers to all those who’ve lost loved ones in one of these senseless acts of violence. But let us also act.
All sorts of groups are out working to make us all safer. Here’s a good one: