Not again — please, not again

Nashville was the site of the latest mass shooting, but it won’t be the last by the time you read this.

Another school, where three small children and three adult school employees were shot to death.

Last month, in the wake of the tragic Michigan State University mass shooting, I wrote about how it was then the 67th mass shooting just 45 days into 2023.

The Nashville mass shooting was the 129th in the first 86 days of this year.

I can’t imagine what the parents and families of those latest innocent victims are going through right now, walking into children’s empty bedrooms at home, seeing the toys or last night’s pajamas lying on the floor, while feeling indescribable pain.

A lot of people, including myself, send our thoughts and prayers to these families.

Some say thoughts and prayers are not enough and do little to stop the senseless loss of lives, yet it is something we can all do.

And, like all the previous mass shootings, we are left asking questions on what else we can do. We turn to politicians for the answers, and, of course, gun control and access always comes up.

We have hundreds of laws on the books making mass shootings illegal. We have gun laws on the books calling for background checks, and age limits, and bans on fully automated weapons. Has that stopped the killings? Maybe it has stopped some we will never know about, but the answer is, no, it isn’t working.

Before the latest school shooting, I had planned this week to write about gun laws. I had already downloaded information about the over 9,000 people killed by guns this year, and it’s only the end of March. I, like many of you, have been thinking about what we could do to stop all this, what laws could we pass, what warning signs are we missing, and why this is primarily a United States problem and so much greater than in other countries.

I was going to mix my editorial with the number of deer-vehicle crashes in Michigan, which tops 50,0000 each year. I was going to say we need to pass a law that makes it illegal for deer to cross a public road or highway, suggesting that would stop all those crashes. I then was going to point out that a law forbidding deer to cross the road wouldn’t work, because deer won’t obey that law.

I was going to add that people intent on committing mass murders aren’t going to obey a gun law, either, so we must look much deeper into trying to solve this crisis — and, yes, mass murders in the U.S. has elevated to a national crisis.

I watched an interview with former New Jersey governor Chris Christie as he was asked his opinion on those killings. One of his responses was that we are an angry country right now, and much of that anger is being stoked by our national leaders and the media.

He is right. We are angry.

We choose sides when we don’t have to. We look to politicians to solve problems they cannot solve. They spend too much time legislating morality and personal choices and too little time working together as a nation, as a civil society, and doing whatever they can to unite us instead of divide us.

We need to realize the greatest country on Earth has the potential to become even greater. We have brilliant minds, outstanding innovation, massive national resources, great national wealth, yet lack the will to pull all of those advantages together to tackle the problematic issues and to capitalize on those opportunities.

The question is why or why not?

In my MSU column, I wrote that, “We need to regain trust in our institutions, our faith and our government. We need to restore the American dream to give people hope. We need to regain control of our destiny and restore our belief in humanity.”

I still believe that is the first step in the long process we need to undertake to quell the anger and to put us back on a path of peace, patriotism, and prosperity.

Will that stop the tragic daily mass shootings?

Probably not, but it may help us come together to find ways we can better detect, diagnose, and treat those would-be killers before they have a chance to act.

There is not a single one of us who have not experienced the loss of loved ones, be it old age, disease, accidents, or, in this case, senseless killings. Many of us live each day with the heartache and pain of losing a family member or good friend, but losing an innocent child while attending school must be the greatest loss of all.

So, yes, I send my prayers to those families. Yes, I feel their pain. Yes, I am looking for answers and remain hopeful we collectively can stop this madness by rediscovering just how fragile and fleeting our lives really are.

I ended my last month’s column saying I have more questions than answers. I still do, and I am interested in what your thoughts are and what can be done to end this national crisis.

Please let me know at gregawtry@awtry.com.

Greg Awtry is the former publisher of the Scottsbluff (Neb.) Star-Herald and Nebraska’s York News-Times. He is now retired and living in Hubbard Lake. Greg can be contacted at gregawtry@awtry.com.


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