Gun violence and my children’s America

(News4usonline) – America has a problem. Specifically, it has a gun problem. Forget about the Second Amendment and let’s address the elephant in the room. Gun violence is now the biggest threat to the law and order that govern our nation. If you don’t have law and order you have a society perched to go into anarchy.

The race-based mass shooting in Buffalo, New York took place on May 14. Ten people lost their lives. Another three were injured but survived the targeted killing spree of African Americans. The nation grieved. Just 10 days later on May 24, another mass shooting took place.

May 17, 2022 – Buffalo NY – Governor Kathy Hochul joins President Joe Biden at the Delavan Grider Community Center in Buffalo. (Mike Groll/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)

This time it was babies, second, third, and fourth-graders, who were slaughtered.

“There are parents who will never see their child again, never have them jump in bed and cuddle with them.  Parents who will never be the same,” President Joe Biden said in his remarks to the nation. “To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away.  There’s a hollowness in your chest, and you feel like you’re being sucked into it and never going to be able to get out.  It’s suffocating.  And it’s never quite the same.”

This country has not been the same since the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. There, 18-year-old Eric Harris and 17-year-old Dylan Klebold, went target shooting and killed 13 people and wounded 20 more before ending their own lives. It’s been one wave of mass shootings after another since that terrible spring day. America has failed to do anything about these chilling episodes.

As a result, these incidents keep taking place. More families and communities have been dealt with the hand of having to mourn loved ones and victims lost to these senseless acts of gun violence. This latest episode of mass shootings has gutted the heart of Golden State Warriors head basketball coach Steve Kerr.

Kerr, in a pregame press conference with the media before his team played the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, was more than just a little ticked off. He was angry.

“I’m not going to talk about basketball,” Kerr said. “Nothing’s happened with our team in the last six hours. We’re going to start the same way tonight. Any basketball questions don’t matter. Since we left shootaround, 14 children were killed 400 miles from here, and a teacher. In the last 10 days, we’ve had elderly black people killed in a supermarket in Buffalo, we’ve had Asian churchgoers killed in Southern California, now we have children murdered at school.”

Kerr continued, “When are we going to do something? I’m tired. I’m so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to the devastated families that are out there. I’m so tired. Excuse me. I’m sorry. I’m tired of the moments of silence. Enough. There’s 50 Senators right now who refuse to vote on HR8, which is a background check rule that the House passed a couple years ago. It’s been sitting there for two years. There’s a reason they won’t vote on it: to hold onto power.”

The power to take a life has only emboldened more and more of these killers. And yet we sit on the sidelines and do nothing but offer up our thoughts and prayers. As a man of faith, as a Christian, I believe in prayer.

However, I also believe in what my parents used to tell me and that is to watch as well as pray. This simply means to be vigilant and watchful of what’s going on around you.

And what’s going on in this country is an inundation of gun violence. It has been for a long time now. It has gotten worse. Gun violence has reared its ugly head in just about every place Americans have once designated as sacred and safe grounds.

If you go to the movies, it’s there (Aurora, Colorado in 2012; 70 wounded, 12 dead). If you go to church for Bible study, it’s there (Mother Emanuel AME Church in 2015; 9 shot and killed). You might encounter gun violence at a music festival (Las Vegas in 2017; at least 58 dead, hundreds wounded).

Going to school, once the pillar of a safety net for young people has turned into a battleground of unfathomable tragedy (Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012; 26 deceased; Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018). And can someone tell me what is going on in Chicago?

In less than two weeks after issuing a statement on the Buffalo killings, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland was forced to go through this exercise once again after the shooting in Uvalde.

“Today, another mass shooting has taken the lives of innocent victims, including elementary school children and their teacher. This act of unspeakable violence has devastated an entire community and shaken our country,” Garland said. “FBI and ATF agents have responded to the scene, and the Justice Department is committed to providing our full support to our law enforcement partners on the ground in Texas and to the Uvalde community. We join our fellow Americans in mourning this terrible loss and in their resolve to end this senseless violence.”

The demonstration was organized by Teens For Gun Reform, an organization created by students in the Washington DC area, in the wake ofthe February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Photo by Lorie Shaull

The suspects in most of these cases have been young men. Yes, another young male. Another so-called lone wolf. The Columbine shooters were 18 and 17, respectively. Dylan Roof was 21 when he walked into Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and killed nine churchgoers. Adam Lanza was just 20 when he took the lives of 20 school children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The 34 people gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, were shot by 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz. Eighteen-year-old Payton Gendron is responsible for the 13 people he shot at the Tops supermarket in Buffalo. And the man responsible for the murders in Uvalde, Texas, Salvador Ramos, was 18 before being shot and killed.

The bloody trail that Ramos left behind was taking the lives of at least 19 children and two adults in Uvalde. Blue state. Red state. Small rural town. Big city, bright lights. It doesn’t matter.

The poison of mass shootings has now become a staple of American life. When is it okay to go around shooting and murdering children? When will are our legislative leaders going to do something about this mass shooting epidemic? The more important question is when are we, as Americans, going to get off our duffs and vote these people out of office if they continue to not listen to what we want?

May 15, 2022 — Buffalo, NY — Governor Kathy Hochul along with local and federal officials hold a press briefing providing additional information to the mass shooting in Buffalo. (Darren McGee/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)

If we vote elected officials into office, we have the power to vote them out. In just 2021 alone, there were 692 mass shootings here in the United States, according to Gun Violence Archive. Enough is enough. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul sounded fed up as she spoke out about the Buffalo carnage.

“It’s hard to know what to say,” Hochul said. “This is my community. I know this community well, I’ve walked these streets. I know the individuals who live here. It’s a wonderful tight-knit neighborhood. And to see that sense of security shattered by an individual, a white supremacist who has engaged in an act of terrorism and will be prosecuted as such, in a cold-hearted, cruel calculating way. A military-style execution, targeting people who simply want to buy groceries in a neighborhood store.” 

Hochul continued, “It strikes us in our very hearts to know that there is such evil that lurks out there. Yes, I’m here to console the families in a community that is feeling so much pain right now. But mark my words we’ll be aggressive in our pursuit of anyone who subscribes to the ideals professed by other white supremacists and how there’s a feeding frenzy on social media platforms where hate festers more hate, that has to stop.”  

Featured Image Caption: The sight is Uvalde, Texas, where 19 kids and two adults were shot and killed by 18-year-old gunman Salvador Ramos. Photo courtesy of Hussein Abdul Mumin

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