Ten years ago – in December 2012 – a mentally unstable 19 year old shot and killed 26 souls at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut – where 20 of those 26 were 6 and 7 year old kindergarteners and first graders.
A week and half ago, 10 Americans were shot to death by a mentally unstable 18 year old — while shopping at their neighborhood grocery store.
Yesterday, it happened again, in Uvalde, Texas. A mentally unstable, 18 year old high school dropout, shot and killed 20 Ross Elementary School children – all under the age of 10 — and two of their dedicated teachers
Like many of you – I’ve lost count of the number of horrible moments of pain and carnage that have been broadcast across our television screens in the intervening decade. To name just a few —
- Parkland, Florida
- Marysville, Washington
- El Paso, Texas
- Santa Fe, Texas
- Gilroy, California
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Sutherland Springs, Texas
- Aurora, Colorado
Add to this the Political Violence we’ve Eperienced.
- The attempted killing of Gabby Gifford in Tucson, Arizona – while meeting with constituents. The assailant was a mentally unstable 19 year old college student.
- Or the attempted killing of Steve Scalise in Alexandria, Virginia –while practicing for a charity baseball game.
Not even these two events touching Congress, itself, have moved enough members of the Senate past whispered “thoughts and prayers” — while attempting — to flee cameras and reporters.
Universal background legislation, an inadequate step to be sure, passed in the House in early 2021 but has not seen the light of day in the Senate.
Why should Senators risk re-election or NRA political contributions by taking up such legislation – they ask themselves — when the national reaction to the shooting of 20 elementary school children has been reduced (by repetition) to “business as usual” by their constituents?
- In 2012 – after Sandy Hook – ball games, concerts and holiday events were paused for a few days of national mourning.
- In 2022 – after Ross Elementary – the Warrior / Mavericks basketball play-off game went on in nearby Dallas before the dead were even identified. Proceeded, of course, by the obligatory “moment of silence”.
Senators, It’s Not Time for Business As Usual
I don’t accept the death of 22 people at the hands of a deranged 18 year old – better armed than the police who confronted him – as business as usual.
There is an absolute minimum that our Congress should do and do it now!
Pass a national universal background check bill that covers all commercial and private gun sales.
But background checks are not enough. The fact is that three fourths of the crimes I listed above were committed by males under the age of 21. And all but one involved the use of a legal purchased so-called “semi-automatic long gun”.
Congress must pass a national universal background check bill that makes juvenile criminal and mental health records available to backgrounders and gives backgrounders the time necessary to investigate those records before releasing a purchased weapon to the applicant.
But expanding the background check process is not enough.
Congress must Raise the Age Limit to Purchase a Weapon to 21
Mark Esper, in his recent book, remarks that 74 percent of 18 year old(s) are not eligible for military service because of physical condition, mental health or inadequate educational achievement (high school diploma or GED).
Government does not consider a “youngadult” mature enough to buy a beer until reaching age 21. It’s “illegal”.
If most 18 year old(s) are not qualified for basic military training or mature enough to buy a beer, is it rational that an 18 year old can purchase a “weapon of war”?
You Can Vote
Call your Senators and urge them to support modest federal legislation to keep these weapons our of the hands of the unstable and the immature.
Then watch what they do. If you Senators (or your Representatives) fail to act with alacrity – then, in November, vote for someone who will.