Uvalde Texas

A second post on the topic is at May 27.

Today I watched the entire news conference in Uvalde TX in the wake of the carnage at Robb Elementary School May 24.

The Governor and Lt. Governor of TX were center of attention.  I won’t recount much from that meeting, which will cover the walls of todays news, print and visual and virtual.  I first mentioned the tragedy in my blog yesterday.

The death toll so far: 19 early elementary students; two of their teachers; 17 injured; the shooter, age 18 armed with an AR 15, was killed.

To my knowledge, none of the folks on the dais today in Uvalde implicated the unregulated firearm which killed 21 people.  There was abundant finger pointing at mental illness, and maybe the need for more places to put such people.

Lurking in the background is a long history of Texas deregulating guns.  Not coincidentally, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has its annual meeting beginning this week in Houston TX.  There will be more news….  I remember a similar situation in 1999 when the same NRA had its annual convention in Denver, a few days after and within miles of Columbine High School.  Here’s an interesting recount from NPR of what happened in 1999.  (My son and family lived then, and still live, about a mile from Columbine High School.  I was there a week after that carnage.)

I have a long interest and concern about this topic.  I entered “guns” in the search engine for my past posts, and came up with 85 referring to the topic.  The first of these, April 4, 2009, was the third I wrote, about the Binghamton NY shooting in 2009.  You can read it here.

I wrote all of these posts, and what I can say without equivocation is that I have never argued that guns should be eliminated; only that they need to be regulated.  Guns have their place in our society, but not in the hands of someone set to destroy someone else.

Somebody said, yesterday, that we are a nation of over 300,000,000 people, awash with over 400,000,000 guns, ever more dangerous.  Many of us, perhaps most, do not own or use a gun.  those who have them often have many, of all sorts.

This is what I said about this issue in 2009: “I have no issue against hunters and hunting in the traditional sense of that word: shotguns, regular rifles, licenses….
The national debate for years has gone far beyond the lines I describe above. We are an armed and very dangerous nation of far too many people armed to the teeth, wallowing in fear and resentment of this, that or the other.”  It’s much worse, now.

So, I think I’ve been “on the court” on this issue for a long time, and I will continue to be so.  The issue needs to be settled politically – one party and one party only consistently has worked for common sense gun regulation.  That party is the Democrats.  But it’s not an easy political issue.  It is demagogued dishonestly but effectively.  Words like “confiscation” are bandied about.

There were a few comments I flagged from today’s news conference in Uvalde TX.  They were all from the Texas Governor, and carefully prepared.

The emphasis on mental illness is a standard and false dodge.  We are a country with about 4% of the world’s population with a wildly disproportionate share of the kind of gun violence which visited Uvalde yesterday.  Mental illness arguably exists elsewhere, similar to here.  But there is far less access to weapons of mass destruction.  It is harder to kill your neighbor in other countries….

The Law in Texas has a long history of over 60 years.  60 years ago I was in the U.S. Army and our gun was an M-1, very low class and ineffective compared with today’s killing equipment.  Somebody reminded me this afternoon of the infamous Texas Clock Tower Massacre in 1966 where Charles Whitman killed 18 people with long guns from the 28th floor balcony overlooking the University of Texas.

The Texas Governor had to bring up the what-about standard: what about Chicago, New York, Los Angeles….  I had to look that up.  Of course, there are problems everywhere.  The three cities together have metropolitan area populations of 42 million; Texas has about 29 million population.  And it caused me to wonder how much of the incidents in these three cities fits the pattern of Texas – killings in school, church, shopping centers….

It is impossible for me to generate sympathy for the government of Texas given its pattern and practice of always more and more deregulation of deadly weaponry.

This afternoon, on the second anniversary of the George Floyd murder in my own city in 2020, President Biden signed an Executive Order attempting to nick at the resistance that continues in the national legislature of dealing with this crisis in our own country.

There is much more to say.

And much, much more to do.  Get, and stay, active.

COMMENTS (More at the end):

from Judyshaking our heads and hearts despair….knowing that God does the same….blessings to you…you have a great loving heart and keen mind.  Thank you for your thoughts.

from Louisa: Extremely well considered. Your writing always catches my attention. Thank you Dick!

from Larry: Dick, thank you for writing this.  I don’t remember the exact numbers but NAMI always says a very small percentage of violent crimes are done by people living with a diagnosed mental illness.  You said something like “regular and convenient dodge”, and just one more horrendous bit of disrespect and stigma heaped on people living with a mental illness.

from Fred: Excellent post, Richard, excellent.

from Rick: Totally agree with you cousin…keep up the good work and raising awareness of this sickness in America…the Texas Governor was ridiculous yesterday!

from SAK in England: Children are by definition innocent which makes this latest tragedy in Texas so poignant. Dostoevsky (or are we supposed to “cancel” him for being Russian!? He died in 1881) was often troubled by the death of children – his novels debate the question of how a benevolent God can allow this. The Christian theological answers often involve the concept of free will, that God out of respect for humanity granted it free will – unlike some other religions where everything is pre-determined. Perhaps God, looking at the current state of affairs on earth, might be slightly less respectful of humanity! Just kidding of course & I am in admiration of this concept of free will.

Arriving from the UK to study in Austin Texas decades ago, we were told about the mass shooting from the tower. This was at a time when you couldn’t see an armed police officer on the street in Britain – now sadly you do. We later took a bus in the wrong direction & ended up in a disfavoured part of town. Another of the group asked seriously whether we should take a plane back across the pond! All went well & I graduated from there but I do remember a professor being fired for expressing leftist views which astonished me as we had to take a couple of courses about US government, including democracy, to graduate.

Nowadays ownership of pistols & semi-automatic weapons is completely banned in the UK which “has some of the strictest laws about gun ownership in the world” according to some sources, e.g. here and here.

There have been massacres using guns in the UK as well but comparatively very few. This is not to brag after all the UK has an ineffective, scandal plagued prime minister who if he could do the right thing would have resigned yesterday. It’s only to show a correlation between fatalities & gun ownership. After all as you mentioned there are alas many suffering from mental problems everywhere.

It would have been in bad taste had the Financial Times featured this cartoon now but it appeared a few months ago so I hope you will allow me, with apologies, to include it:

[Extremely well-armed guy wearing Texas t-shirt and holding “Pro-Life sign]

Abortion is another issue that has come up on your pages & doubtless will show up again. Although I don’t like abortion & thank God for steering me away from that temptation, after all I daily ask him to “lead us not into temptation”, I don’t see how a secular (in the sense of separation of state & church at least) democracy can outlaw or try to make abortion difficult and/or hazardous.

Abortion is another issue that has come up on your pages & doubtless will show up again. Although I don’t like abortion & thank God for steering me away from that temptation, after all I daily ask him to “lead us not into temptation”, I don’t see how a secular (in the sense of separation of state & church at least) democracy can outlaw or try to make abortion difficult and/or hazardous.

from Mary: I usually take the liberty of listening to the spin offered by various outlets/papers and would recommend that.  If anyone is stuck to one source you get quite a biased picture of statistics but I am also convinced there are some who will never leave their ‘trustedsource.  It just makes me have a bit of a headache. After a period of saturation I default to watching nothing.

Hunters and home protectors don’t need assault rifles.
I would venture to say that what is changing is that there is a groundswell of disgust with the NRA/and second amendment proponents view of necessity.
10 replies
  1. Rich Hahn
    Rich Hahn says:

    A chilling thought might lie in a comparison of the risk of being a teacher or student in a school vs one serving on the non-combat zone side of support personnel in the military.

    • dickbernard
      dickbernard says:

      My parents were career public school teachers; I taught junior high 9 years, and then represented teachers for 27, retiring in 2000. Never, in my memory, can I recall any single time even contemplating this kind of violence. The first time was Columbine. We can’t have this as the new normal.

  2. Steve Cobian
    Steve Cobian says:

    Thank You Dick for your reflections. This helps me to be paying attention as I often just want to hide in fear and ignore the world – be in it but not of it.

  3. norm hanson
    norm hanson says:

    Anyone else besides my wife and me see the news conference with Abbot and others that was interrupted by Beto O’Rourke whom the Texas good old boys immediately began to swear at the have the gendarmes remove him from the place? Very telling as well as very funny. Or the short-lived tweet from the Trump supporting Arizona congressman stating that the shooter in Ulvalde was a trans leftist socialist. You cannot make this up folks! I think that Abbot and Cruz are both going to a big, NRA doings in Texas this weekend as well

  4. Dave Thofern
    Dave Thofern says:

    Thanks, Dick, for your thoughtful comments. Another mass shooting followed by vigils, funerals, moments of silence, and grief-stricken families. Calls for action–any action–go unanswered by those with the power to do something. Second amendment zealots demand their “freedom.” Children slaughtered on an all-too-regular basis are simply collateral damage. There seems to be zero chance that anything will be different this time, next time, or anytime.

  5. Jeff D Pricco
    Jeff D Pricco says:

    Dick, this morning I pondered two things. First, what is the correlation between support for the pro life movement/agenda, and the gun rights/anti gun safety stance? Is there data? My gut tells me because pro life is a right of center thing, that the majority of those people are also pro 2nd Amendment and anti gun safety. Does anyone know?

    I began to think in light of above about Christianity and this…and the gospel quote a la King James that Christ is quoted saying “Suffer the little children to come unto me”… taking the modern meaning of suffer…are we to sacrifice and suffer our children, and make our children suffer in order to come to “him”?

    Your comments are always thoughtful. Thank y ou.

  6. Jim Reed
    Jim Reed says:

    Whatever our current disgust, we will as a nation reelect those same gun-toting gun-loving legislators to office. Why? Well, we do have a national judgment that guns can be the answer. We did, did we not, pick up arms to drive out the British. We did pass the 2nd amendment though that opening cause about “well regulated militia” wasn’t ignored until recent times. We will continue to accept the level of gun violence seen in this country as long as yearly gun deaths stay in the same ballpark as vehicle deaths (they are). And the slogans used by the gun lobby as so easy to repeat!
    There is no easy answer when those in opposition to gun controls hold most of our national cards.

    • dickbernard
      dickbernard says:

      Regretfully, I agree with you. We can’t rely on our Democrat representatives because even their core constituency treats this issue as non-negotiable. Now, on the other hand, there are so many of these incidents, and this particular one is so especially heinous – essentially two classrooms wiped out of fourth graders – that it will hold our attention longer, and perhaps even to some positive effect.


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