It is beyond my mental capacity to understand what would make an 18-year-old male — let alone anyone — walk into a school and murder 19 little kids and two teachers as happened this week in Uvdale, Texas. But what I do understand is that these shootings are happening way too often in schools, churches and elsewhere in our country’s communities.
I wish I had a quick solution to the problem, but I do not. Actually, I don’t believe there is any quick solution, because our country has drifted so far from its moral compass.
Many say more gun control is the answer. It surely could not hurt to make it more hard for some to purchase guns. But while that might be a place to start, and while it might curtail the issue to a small degree, that is not the answer to the problem.
Because guns are not the real problem. The real problem is a lack of parenting, parents (and I use the term parent lightly) abandoning children they brought into this world, a lack of basic morals in today’s society, and drugs.
I do not see those issues being resolved any time soon.
Still, we at least have to try. So, in a time when too many of our elected officials seem to be pushing the issue aside, I was invigorated by the words of Golden State coach Steve Kerr when he changed what was supposed to be pregame press conference this week before an NBA playoff game into an emotional plea for elected officials to do something.
Kerr is no stranger to such tragedies. His father was shot down by gunmen in 1984 in Beirut, Lebanon, and the younger Kerr has consistently spoke out against gun violence in our country and campaigned for gun control.
In his pregame press conference shortly after the latest Texas massacre, Kerr said he was not going to talk about basketball, because basketball questions did not matter. He said that since his team had left a shoot around earlier in the day, children and teachers in Uvdale had been killed, and that in the last 10 days there had been elderly Black people killed in a Buffalo supermarket and Asian churchgoers killed in Southern California.
“When are we going to do something?” Kerr asked, according to several sources. “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. And there’s a reason they won’t vote on it: to hold onto power.
“So I ask you, Mitch McConnell, I ask all of you senators who refuse to do anything about the violence and school shootings and supermarket shootings,” Kerr continued. “I ask you: Are you going to put your own desire for power ahead of the lives of our children and our elderly and our churchgoers? Because that’s what it looks like. It’s what we do every week.
“So I’m fed up. I’ve had enough. We’re going to play the game tonight. But I want every person here, every person listening to this, to think about your own child or grandchild, or mother or father, sister, brother. How would you feel if this happened to you today?
“We can’t get numb to this. We can’t sit here and just read about it and go, well, let’s have a moment of silence — yea, Go Dubs. C’mon, Mavs, let’s go. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to go play a basketball game.
“Fifty senators in Washington are going to hold us hostage. Do you realize that 90 percent of Americans, regardless of political party, want background checks — universal background checks? Ninety percent of us. We are being held hostage by 50 senators in Washington who refuse to even put it to a vote, despite what we, the American people, want.
“They won’t vote on it because they want to hold onto their own power. It’s pathetic! I’ve had enough!”
I’ve had enough, too. I’m tired of seeing the sickening news of another shooting in this very newspaper all too often. I’m tired of wondering what makes someone do such a thing. I’m tired of wondering if my wife is safe when she is teaching school. I’m tired of people asking someone to do something.
So, maybe background checks and a few other ways to make it more difficult to purchase a gun are a place to start. I’m not talking about taking guns out of the hands of U.S. citizens, but what could background checks and a little more regulation hurt?”
I still believe that a lack of morals, drugs and deadbeat parents are the primary sources of the problem. I still believe that if someone wants to do harm, they will find a way to do it. But since those issues seem to be mostly out of our control, a little more gun control appears to at least be some place to start.
So, you 50 senators, you have been called out. What are you going to do? Sit on your hands and try to hold onto your power, or actually do something that might help your fellow man?
Jeff Gilliland is the editor of the Times-Gazette. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-402-2522.