Like everyone else I know, I was totally horrified by the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
And the one barely two weeks earlier, at a Tops grocery store in Buffalo, New York.
And the shooting in the New York City subway in April.
And the shooting at a high school in Oxford, Michigan, in November 2021
And the shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis in April 2021.
And the shooting at an office building in Los Angeles in March 2021.
And shootings in Boulder, Colorado, and Atlanta, also in March 2021.
The list goes on and on. All of these incidents involved multiple deaths, many including children.
How can we not be horrified and outraged by all this violence? How can we continue to see the suffering without becoming numb to it? How can we continue to take so little action when so many children are involved? Children gunned down at Columbine High School in Colorado. At Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. At Parkland High School in Florida. And now at Robb Elementary in Uvalde.
It is high time to discuss what can be done to control gun violence in our country. This should not be a political issue. This is a responsibility issue. This is a do-the-right-thing issue. And part of that responsibility should lie with the news media, to keep gun-violence issues alive and to hold our leaders accountable to protect all of us while they argue over Second Amendment rights.
I wrote about gun violence in 2016 after the mass shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. In that column, I referred to a column written by former editor Nancy Kirsch in 2012, after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, in Newtown, Connecticut.
Kirsch’s message remains the same and is worth rereading.
Fran Ostendorf, editor
This ends now … or does it?
BY NANCY KIRSCH
Reprinted from The Jewish Voice, Dec. 21, 2012.
As I write this, on Dec. 14, the day of the horrific massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., I heard Jay Carney, President Obama’s press person, say, “I don’t think today is the day” to talk about gun control policies. I got angry.
It was the perfect time to address gun control, to address a better system to identify, evaluate and treat emotionally ill individuals who are predisposed to violence, and to address our nation’s fascination with guns, violence and its “shoot ’em up” mentality.
Since the horrific school massacre, pundits have overtaken the news media with ideas about how to prevent another mass shooting. I’m politically savvy enough to appreciate that many politicians are “in bed” with all-too-powerful entities like the National Rifle Association, whose PAC monies help elect said politicians. I’m not wise enough to propose a realistic fix for that incestuous relationship – public financing, perhaps?
Individuals committing massacres in the United States are male, most in their late teens or early 20s, and generally loners. I’m not wise enough to identify any other commonalities; perhaps we should evaluate how effectively we identify and treat emotionally damaged individuals prone to violence. Perhaps we should admit that, absent answers, the United States should consult with experts in highly industrialized countries where mass shootings occur far more rarely.
Perhaps the number of “copycat” attacks might decline with a media ban on releasing shooters’ names. Many of these young men – completely isolated and alone – may opt for their “15 minutes of fame” through posthumous infamy. Yes, it’s a First Amendment issue, but other First Amendment limitations have been upheld as constitutional. The release of names via social media is virtually instantaneous – and often incorrect!
Murders of prominent people – JFK, RFK, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X – peppered my youthful years. While each was shocking and traumatic, today’s children are growing up in an era when horrific killings are much too commonplace. If they’re “lucky,” they see the unspeakable carnage only on their iPhones, iPads, TVs or in print – the “unlucky ones,” of course, are those who know, or are, victims of a shooting!
Remember these mass murders? Seattle (March 2006, seven dead); Lancaster, Pa. (October 2006, five Amish children dead); Binghamton, N.Y. (April 2009, 14 dead) … and many more, including the January 2011 murder of six people and wounding of 13 others, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in Tucson, Ariz. It’s horrific to think how many such shootings we’ve experienced since last January. According to thinkprogress.org/justice, the rate of people killed by guns in the United States is 19.5 times higher than in similarly high-income countries.
I’m politically savvy enough to recognize that our elected officials might, just might, declare, “This ends here, this ends now,” but unless they actually do something to address the root causes of this national scourge, I know that we’ll see more lost lives, more grieving families and more pontificating pundits.
President Obama got it half-right: This is not the time for talk about gun control; this is the time to take action.
No wonder I’m angry.
NANCY KIRSCH, of Providence, is now a freelance writer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org