Tag Archives: gun violence

Guns make us bite our tongue

WICHITA FALLS, Texas — A long time passed from when the Texas Legislature voted to allow open carry of firearms before I saw someone actually packing a pistol on his hip.

My wife and I were returning to Fairview today after spending some time in our RV in Amarillo when we walked into one of our favorite eating places in Wichita Falls. We wanted to grab a quick bite before heading on down the highway toward home.

A couple was disciplining a youngster a few tables away. The gentleman was particularly loud in seeking to get the boy to settle down. He has one of those annoying voices that we would have heard even if the eatery was packed wall to wall with customers.

I mentioned the grating sound of the guy’s voice to my wife, who then informed me, “Yes, and he’s carrying a gun, too.”

I shot a glance over my shoulder at the guy. Sure enough, there it was. In plain sight. Some kind of high-caliber semi-automatic pistol.

Then it occurred to me: Just as concealed carry laws have made motor vehicle drivers a bit more circumspect with other drivers who cut them off in traffic — at least that’s my view — open carry laws damn sure would prevent someone from speaking out against someone who, um, is bellowing to a youngster.

I didn’t think of saying anything to this guy. But what if someone else on the other side of the table heard him and decided to confront him over the tone of voice he was using to calm the little boy down?

Having seen the firearm on this guy’s hip, I know I’d never say a word to the guy.

As for whether my wife and I will frequent this eating establishment in the future, that’s another matter altogether. I prefer to enjoy a meal in an establishment where guns are prohibited.

Time to ‘harden’ our schools?

It turns out that Santa Fe (Texas) High School had an award-winning safety program … that didn’t prevent a gunman from killing 10 people and injuring 10 others.

As the Texas Tribune reports: The school district had an active-shooter plan, and two armed police officers walked the halls of the high school. School district leaders had even agreed last fall to eventually arm teachers and staff under the state’s school marshal program, one of the country’s most aggressive and controversial policies intended to get more guns into classrooms.

They thought they were a hardened target, part of what’s expected today of the American public high school in an age when school shootings occur with alarming frequency. And so a death toll of 10 was a tragic sign of failure and needing to do more, but also a sign, to some, that it could have been much worse.

The school district hadn’t yet put guns in teachers’ hands.

All of this has provoked some thought.

We put entrants into county courthouses through security scanners. Same with airports.

I’m wondering now whether it’s time to place the same level of protection around our students and teachers that we do around county employees and airport staff and passengers.

Yes, it will cost lots of money. Each state in this nation, not to mention the federal government, should dig deep into pockets to find it. So should school districts.

I see this as part of a comprehensive plan to curb gun violence. I still believe there’s a legislative solution out there to be discovered that pass constitutional muster. That, too, must be found. I no longer am going to accept the idea that any legislative remedy is going to violate the Second Amendment guarantee of the right to “keep and bear arms.”

That’s not enough. If we’re going to send our children to school where they are supposed to learn in a safe environment, then it is time for government at several levels to step up. We need to protect them — and not with additional guns hidden in teachers’ drawers in the classroom!

We need more cops patrolling these schools, state-of-the-art security technology and detection systems that can spot a firearm a mile away.

Our children need the protection they deserve. They are our treasure. Our future. If we love them, then we need to demonstrate it. Now!

‘Our teachers are part of that well-run militia’

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wants to put guns in our teachers’ hands.

He thinks a well-armed teacher could have stopped the shooter from slaughtering those 10 victims in Santa Fe, Texas, the other day.

Sure thing, Mr. Patrick. Or … a heat-packing educator could have missed the shooter and wounded — or killed! — other students or fellow educators.

Patrick told ABC News’s “This Week” that teachers “are part of that well-run militia” spelled out in the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.

Sigh …

In truth, the amendment refers to a “well-regulated militia.” My own view is that teachers are tasked exclusively to educate children; they are not asked to provide armed response to violence in the classroom or in the halls, or the cafeteria or the gymnasium or the school yard.

This notion of arming teachers keeps getting revived every time a gunman opens fire in our public schools. There has been so much of it these days we have become numb — or so it seems — to the news that keeps erupting.

Patrick did say something that rings true while he was on TV this morning: “We have devalued life, whether it’s through abortion, whether it’s the breakup of families, through violent movies, and particularly violent video games which now outsell movies and music.”

Yes, this is a societal issue that needs careful examination. However, none of that will be solved merely by putting more guns into our public schools.

What are we going to do about it, Mr. POTUS?

Donald Trump continues to exhibit a remarkable command of the obvious.

Ten people — nine of them students — were shot to death in Santa Fe, Texas, the other day. The nation is grief-stricken yet again by a spasm of gun violence in a public school.

The president spoke to the nation and said he intends to do all he can to protect our students, to make our schools safer.

This gun violence has been going on for “too long,” he said.

Yes, sir. It has. Several of your predecessors could have said the same thing. Indeed, I’m quite sure many of them did say that very thing, that this gun violence has been going on far too long.

What did they do about it? What did Congress do about it? What did governors or state legislators do about it? Nothing! Not a damn thing!

So now it falls on the current president to do something. It falls also on Congress. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared his intention to hold a round table discussion in which “everything” is on the table.

I have heard the president say the same thing, that he would be willing to discuss any issue put forward.

We have to stop this madness, Mr. President. Our children need to be feel safe. Their parents need to send them to school with the full expectation that they will return home at the end of the day.

Gov. Abbott said it well. “Thoughts and prayers” no longer are enough. The time for action has arrived. Hell, it arrived at the previous mass shooting, and the one before that, and the one before that one …

Do something!

Reduce access at schools? No thanks

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has tossed out an idea worthy of discussion in reaction to the Santa Fe High School massacre of nine students and a teacher by one of the students at the school near Galveston.

The discussion, though, should be brief.

Patrick believes schools are too open, that they contain too many doors. Access is too easy. Gunmen can walk in and blast away, according to Patrick.

His solution? Let’s “harden” the schools, reduce the number of doors.

According to the Texas Tribune: “We may have to look at the design of our schools moving forward and retrofitting schools that are already built. And what I mean by that is there are too many entrances and too many exits to our more than 8,000 campuses in Texas,” he said, citing security at office buildings and courthouses. “Had there been one single entrance possibly for every student, maybe he would have been stopped.”

OK. That’s enough of that.

Schools need those doors to enable students can escape in case of fire and, oh yes, in case someone does open fire in classrooms or in the halls.

Patrick’s idea appears to be well-intentioned. I’ll give him that much. However, it is entirely impractical, given the myriad other hazards that can confront students, teachers and school staffers.

At least, though, Lt. Gov. Patrick has started the discussion.

Please, let’s not arm teachers

We’re heading into another “national conversation” about how to make our schools safer, about how to protect our children from gunmen who open fire in public school classrooms.

Santa Fe High School in Galveston County, Texas, has become the latest — and certainly not the last — flashpoint in that discussion.

Ten people are dead and 10 more are injured. A student has been taken into custody and has been charged with capital murder. He faces the death penalty if he’s convicted.

The president of the United States, Donald Trump, vowed to make our “schools safer.” Yes, Mr. President, we’re all for it.

Does that include arming teachers? For the umpteenth time, this blogger wants to say not just “no,” but “hell no!”

I am at a loss as to what the solution is. I remain convinced that there can be a legislative remedy found that keeps faith with the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I am not smart enough to concoct a solution from this keyboard.

However, I merely want to implore the president and other public officials to steer far, far away from a discussion about putting guns in teachers’ hands.

The National Rifle Association keeps harping on the notion that “the only way to protect us from bad guys with guns is to put guns in the hands of good guys.”

So, that’s the answer? The way to end gun violence is to put more guns out there? Such nonsense makes me want to scream.

I do not want to hear that. Instead, I want to hear some possible solutions that place reasonable — and constitutional — restrictions on individuals capable of doing harm to the rest of us.

Tragedy strikes another school

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said today what many of us already believe: It’s not enough to offer “thoughts and prayers” to communities stricken by a spasm of gun violence. The time for action is at hand.

Yes, governor. You are so right.

Santa Fe High School near Galveston is reeling today in the wake of another school shooting. Ten people — most of them students — are dead; another 10 are injured, with a couple of the injured victims suffering life-threatening injuries.

The shooter, a student at the high school, is in custody.

By all means we offer our prayers. Now comes the hard part. What are we going do to stop this insanity?

Abbott said today that everything is on the table. Everything? Yep. That’s what he said. Everything. I’m going to presume he means what he says.

Putting something on the “table” does not guarantee anything substantive will arise from a serious discussion.

Gov. Abbott wants to convene a town hall meeting. He wants to talk to constituents. He said he is open to anything they have to offer.

The shooter’s father owned the weapons, a shotgun and a .38-caliber revolver. Here’s a thought for the governor to ponder: Stiffen liability punishment for parents who fail to do all they can to keep the guns out of the hands of their children. OK, that’s just a thought off the top of my noggin.

Is this yet another turning point? Has it supplanted the Parkland, Fla., carnage as the catalyst that will bring action in place of rhetoric?

I cannot wrap my head around all of this at the moment.

Lord have mercy on us all.

Oklahoma governor going out with ‘a bang’ … so to speak

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is a lame duck chief exec who appears to have discovered the joy of not having to face special interest groups as she tries to get re-elected.

Gov. Fallin, a Republican, vetoed a bill that came to her desk that would have allowed Oklahomans to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, meaning they needed no training of any sort to pack heat amongst the rest of us.

Good … for … her!

The only stipulation in the bill she vetoed that was worth a damn was that the heat packers couldn’t have been convicted felons.

To no one’s surprise, the National Rifle Association is mad as hell at Fallin, who is term-limited from seeking another term as governor. The NRA pledges to help elect the next governor who, the organization hopes, will allow this ridiculous piece of legislation to become law.

But do you know who’s happy about it, aside from rank-and-file citizens who opposed this monstrosity? Law enforcement officers! The cops didn’t want Fallin to sign the bill. State and local police associations urged Fallin to keep her signature off the legislation. She listened to them.

Their fears were well-founded. They just believe that concealed carry opportunities must come with some reasonable restrictions. Passing a rudimentary test after taking a basic course on firearms safety hardly constitutes a ham-fisted limitation on the rights of folks to “keep and bear arms.”

And to think the Legislature wanted to remove event that rule. Good grief.

Again … you go, Gov. Fallin!

Packin’ heat becomes more fashionable, eh?

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has received a bill on her desk that she is likely to sign. I wish she wouldn’t. But that’s just me. She doesn’t care what a Texas resident thinks of the mistake her state’s legislature has just made.

The Oklahoma Legislature has approved a bill that allows Oklahomans to carry a gun without obtaining a permit or a license to do so. That’s right. If you’re able to strap a gun to your hip or tuck it into an ankle holster, just go right ahead.

No worries about whether you’re qualified to pack the heat.

Good grief, man! What’s going on here? The Amarillo Globe-News notes that Oklahoma would join several other states that allow folks to carry a weapon without a required license or permit. Texas isn’t one of them, as the Globe-News notes correctly.

But I prefer the Texas way of giving people permission to pack heat. They need to take a rudimentary class on firearm safety and then pass a simple test. Then they can obtain a permit from the state. The G-N seems to think that government shouldn’t be involved … to which I say, “Bull dookey!”

Read the G-N editorial here.

I have accepted the Texas system of allowing concealed carry permits, although I don’t endorse it. Yes, I know what the Second Amendment says about the “right to keep and bear arms.” The 1995 Texas Legislature approved the concealed-carry law and, yes, I was one of those who was concerned about a potential spike in gun violence.

A state, though, is not imposing an unreasonable or dictatorial restriction on gun ownership by requiring residents to pass a simple test after taking a simple course before they can pack heat; Texas also has an open-carry provision that allows folks to carry guns in full view — but only if they have a concealed carry permit.

I hope Gov. Fallin vetoes the gun bill that has arrived on her desk. I do not expect her to do so.

Sigh.

2nd Amendment ‘under siege’? Oh, no it isn’t

Donald J. “Demagogue in Chief” Trump managed once again to inflame his political base with an assertion that he then contradicted in the very same sentence.

“Your Second Amendment rights are under siege, but they will never, ever be under siege as long as I am your president,” he said this week at the National Rifle Association annual conference in Dallas.

His speech was typically Trumpian in its lack of focus, its meandering course and the politically tinged remarks.

He went off on the economy, the “fake news” allegedly ignoring the good job growth and dwindling unemployment, the Robert Mueller probe into the “Russia thing.”

He did devote a bit of his rambling soliloquy to gun issues, which is why he was in Dallas in the first place. He said the NRA’s foes have laid siege to the Second Amendment, then said it wouldn’t happen as long as he is president.

Which is it, sir? Is it under siege or not?

The truth is this: There is no “siege” being waged against the Second Amendment. Sure, there are some Americans who want it repealed or significantly modified. Many other Americans, though, want to legislate remedies to the spasm of gun violence in this country without destroying the Second Amendment.

Poll after poll indicate that Americans favor some additional controls on gun purchases. Those polls do not suggest Americans want to limit “law-abiding” citizens’ constitutional rights to “keep and bear arms.”

Yet the president keeps yapping about some phony “siege” he says is being waged against the Second Amendment. That, I submit, is the rhetoric of a demagogue.

Perhaps it was just as well that Donald Trump devoted so little of his podium time in Dallas to gun issues, as it only would have exposed further the president’s stunning ability to speak out of both sides of his pie hole.