Where Is the Shame?
Terry H. Schwadron
May 27, 2022
Where is the shame for these continuing mass shootings? Where is the corrective public policy?
We know Washington is so politically fouled that it cannot act to strengthen federal gun control rules, even to bolster background checks, but where is every church pulpit, every public bus sign, every television commentator, every voice that otherwise is calling for the end of abortion rights in the name of “pro-life”?
Why does preserving the abilities of 18-year-olds to obtain guns at will, modify them for semi-auto firing, carry concealed weapons, s0o trump our desires to keep school children alive? Lobbying by the National Rifle Association may sway Republican senators, but what is the hold on the rest of us?
Another day, another horrible shooting, another expression of sending prayers to the families of the dead — and no chance for legislation. At this moment, it is unclear that the split Senate could collect 50 Democratic votes to press for more gun controls, never mind the 60 that would require the Republican cooperation that is off the table to pass anything effective.
Where are the states so eager to claim sanctity of life in denying women health choices over their own bodies in the protection of elementary students any more than shoppers at that Buffalo supermarket?
Instead, we have Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the party pushing anti-abortion laws, simply rejecting the politicization of guns in the aftermath of yet another mass shooting, and even a more moderate Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) talking about the need for never-expanding mental health services.
A Dance to Nowhere
It is a predictable dance to nowhere. Horror, prayers, non-action as legal and illegal guns are awash and the flood of mass shootings — the stuff drawing international criticisms as well as innumerable familial tragedies — and then nothing. Why is it obvious to those in other countries but not to Americans that we have a problem with training guns on one another in this country?
Words from Joe Biden, this time using the White House pulpit to demand action of any kind, and then silence from those who line up to denounce Biden for starving families of infant formula.
We have the same Supreme Court conservative majority ready to widen access to concealed carry laws as ruled this week to loosen standards for carrying out death penalties. As Justice Clarence Thomas’ majority opinion held, the court should not be interfering in state court verdicts — something it does routinely when it feels compelled to do so.
The wider conservative movement is pounding for more law enforcement to stop illegal guns and turning the blame for mass shootings on the endless series of young, depressed male shooters who pick up guns legally or not and modify them illegally to increase firepower. Mental health may be an important stop, but support for extending mental health services is never a priority for these politicians.
Among efforts to track the background of this Texas school shooter an angry loner, we don’t have enough information yet from this Texas school shooting to know about his rationale or why his family, friends and school officials had not flagged his apparently planned attack. But if patterns hold, our society was ill-prepared to recognize dangerous signs.
The Washington Post reported that this shooter legally bought two rifles for his birthday, had emailed his intentions to shoot to at least one other person and had posted videos of confrontations with his mother. Do we really want to believe that an 18-year-old needs two assault-style weapons for sporting purposes?
Unlike the Buffalo shooting, there was no reported public declaration of a reason for this school attack. We’re left with people trying to shrug this off — again — as some kind of nut.
Isn’t it Our Job?
Let’s set partisan politics aside, and ask: When is ”pro-life” actually going to be an understandable pro-life set of attitudes that can ensure safety of our children and the public? When will we challenge ourselves to address these matters outside of government?
If the huge push for anti-abortion measures is to be substantive towards preserving life, why are the same people not legislating to abolish death penalties, to finance early childhood health and education, to expand the availability of mental and emotional counseling, pushing for more alternatives to gang membership and for programs that offer recreation and summer jobs?
If the people who believe that choice is paramount, where are the opportunities for the choice of school safety? Do we really need some senators to tell us that we need to monitor and moderate legal gun use, to crack down on gun fairs without backgrounds and to stop illegal interstate gun trafficking?
Isn’t this really our job to decide what kind of a society we want and then to insist on politicians willing to carry out the job?
Tobacco didn’t go out of fashion after legislation; gradual acceptance of same-sex relationships were not born of a court decision; civil rights didn’t happen because there suddenly was a different Senate majority in place; we didn’t end involvement in wars because of an election. Americans have altered law by altering public attitudes.
It’s past time for public insistence on gun moderation that makes sense for protection of students and supermarket shoppers.