Honestly, my mind is quite numb right now. After being inundated with stories of loss and grief all weekend long, how could it not be numb?
All those children, the teachers, the administrators. Gone in an instant. Ripped away from their lives, their families. Leaving a vacuum in the hearts of loved ones.
Why? How? It doesn't get any more senseless than this.
And, yet, so much courage. Teachers reading stories to comfort their students. Reminding them how loved and special they are. Hiding the children in cabinets to protect them, all the while risking -and losing- their own lives in the process. Bravely leading the survivors away from carnage inside the school to safety outside.
Still, just three days after such a horrific tragedy, I'm already discouraged. We can do more to protect our children. Their lives and safety should be a priority.
But the day after the attack, people flocked to gun shows. One in California had a much higher turnout than expected. We regulate toys. We regulate cars. But just mention more gun regulations and people lose all sense of reason.
I get it, I really do. I grew up in Texas, after all. I was in ROTC in high school. I was on the rifle team and qualified as an expert marksman when I was just 14. Nine times out of ten, I hit that target dead center. Don't mess with Texas.
Guns are an inherent part of American culture in a way that is unlike any other nation. But there comes a point when things have gone too far.
"Guns don't kill people. People kill people." Perhaps. But guns sure do make it a hell of a lot easier. If that man had walked into that school with a knife, he would not have killed 26 people in under 3 minutes.
"If the teachers had guns to protect themselves, they could've prevented this." Perhaps. But we already have more guns in the US than most other countries. We have looser gun regulations and lighter restrictions on obtaining guns than the majority of other nations. And we have a higher rate of gun homicides and suicides than any other civilized nation. So the answer is more guns? Really?
"It's the culture of violence. The video games, the movies, the toys..." Yes, that is absolutely a part of it. But those video games, movies, toys, etc. don't stop at US borders. And yet, we have more gun-related deaths here in the good ol' US of A than any European nation. More than Japan - a country with video games arguably more violent than those in the US.
The answer needs to be comprehensive. The answer needs to address the culture of violence. It needs to address mental health care and the stigma attached to those who seek help. But the answer also needs to include more gun control. It must, if we want it to be effective. You cannot convince me otherwise.
This does not mean all guns should be banned. This does not mean hunting should be outlawed or the Second Amendment should be repealed. But maybe, just maybe, assault weapons don't belong on the street. Maybe, just maybe, multiple-round ammunition should be relegated to just military and law enforcement use. Maybe, just maybe, mental health exams or stricter licensing requirements should be in place for anyone seeking to purchase a gun. It's common sense, people.
And, yes, there will still be a black market. There will still be guns available illegally. But that doesn't mean we have to make it easy for people to get them legally, especially people who may be mentally unstable.
Instead, we should make it easy for parents to believe their children are safe in school. We should make it easy for children to believe that they will not be massacred while reading their library books in class. We should make it easy for teachers to show up every day and do their already difficult and under-valued jobs without worrying about hiding their students in cabinets or shielding their fragile bodies from 100 rounds of bullets.
Maybe, just maybe, our society needs to reevaluate its priorities.