Tag Archives: gun violence

Fewer guns make us safer, not more of them

I keep circling back to this point about allowing teachers to pack heat in the classroom: What if, in the case of a shooter opening fire, the teacher misses and hits another student with a stray bullet?

I heard a teacher today talk about that possibility. He packs a pistol in his boot and said he would shoot someone who entered his classroom “without hesitation.”

Then he said his worst fear is missing the shooter. “What if I hit a student?” he asked. Yes, what if?

Then he sought to justify it by suggesting it’s better for one student to die than many others, prompting my wife to say, “Sure thing, then tell that to the parents of the student.”

The Parkland, Fla., slaughter of 17 people has opened wide the national discussion about gun violence. I’m glad about that. It has produced some interesting proposals by the president of the United States, who is suggesting a law creating a 21-year-old minimum age for the purchase of a firearm. Donald Trump also has spoken favorably about arming teachers, saying that if the Parkland shooter had encountered a teacher with a gun, he wouldn’t have been stopped.

I cannot buy the notion that putting more guns into schools makes them a safer place. National Rifle Association boss Wayne LaPierre said arming teachers would “harden” schools as a target. I don’t buy that, either.

My biggest fear is what happens if a teacher doesn’t hit a shooter with a kill shot, or at least a round that disables him to where he can no longer fire a weapon? Does an enraged gunman keep shooting?

We won’t solve this matter on this blog. It’s just that the notion of arming teachers just doesn’t feel like a sensible solution to curbing the hideous recurrence of gun violence in our schools.

This is not a hallmark of a civilized society and it damn sure is no way to “make America great … again.”

Let ’em allow guns anywhere

This editorial cartoon appeared in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and it speaks to an interesting irony about those who believe “more guns will keep us safe.”

The Conservative Political Action Conference, the Republican National Convention and the White House all prohibit guns. That’s fine with me.

The cartoon, though, does remind me of something a former boss of mine once asked a prominent Republican Texas senator before the Texas Legislature enacted a law allowing Texans to carry concealed handguns.

The 1995 Legislature approved a concealed-carry bill, which Gov. George W. Bush signed into law. The Amarillo Globe-News, where I worked, opposed the legislation and we editorialized against it. The publisher of the paper at the time was Garet von Netzer, as conservative a fellow as anyone I’ve ever known. He didn’t like the concealed-carry bill.

I’ll never forget the time von Netzer asked the late Sen. Teel Bivins, R-Amarillo, this question: “If you think it’s all right for people to carry guns under their jackets, why don’t you allow them to carry those guns onto the floor of the Legislature?” The Legislature chose then to ban guns inside the State Capitol Building.

I don’t recall Sen. Bivins’s answer.

Von Netzer’s question then seems totally appropriate today.

Dear Mac: Step up on gun violence

Congressman Mac Thornberry:

I’m not one to write “open letters” to public officials, but I’m making an exception with this note. A lot of your supporters read this blog regularly and my sincere hope is that one or more of them will forward it to you.

Congressman, I want to join millions of other Americans who are calling for some action from you and your congressional colleagues on this sickening, maddening and tragic issue of gun violence.

I won’t belabor what you already know about the latest spasm of violence that erupted on Valentine’s Day in Parkland, Fla.

But you’re a big hitter in the U.S. House of Representatives these days. You no longer are a back-bencher. Your high profile as chairman of the Armed Services Committee gives you a louder voice than some chump who’s been in Congress for far less time than you.

Hey, we go back a ways together … you and I. I started my job at the Amarillo Globe-News the same week you took office after your stunning election in 1994. I’ve supported you while working for the Globe-News. I also have opposed you on occasion.

I am acutely aware of the constituency you represent. You are elected to one of the nation’s most reliably Republican congressional districts, even though it’s been redrawn considerably since you took office. Your constituents by and large are big Second Amendment proponents. They don’t much like any idea that monkeys around with the gun amendment.

Surely, though, you must understand that slaughtering school children and their educators is not normal. This is not how a civilized society should behave. Civilized societies should tolerate this carnage. Not for an instant! But, for God’s sake, we do!

Tougher background checks? Yes. End of those “bump stocks” that turn semi-automatic rifles into fully auto killing machines? By all means. How about a ban on assault rifles? Yes, I know many of your constituents are hunters, but who needs an assault rifle to shoot deer, turkeys or feral hogs in the Texas Panhandle?

Just for the record, though, I oppose arming teachers. My thought is this: More guns do not create a safer environment.

Given that you are now a member of the congressional leadership team, I want you to speak out clearly about what you think should be done to prevent recurrences of these tragedy.

I am tired of the canard that “no legislation would prevent” a madman from shooting someone. I will not tolerate a lame notion that there is nothing to be done that doesn’t tear the guts out of the Second Amendment. You can find a solution and you must communicate your ideas to those you represent in the halls of power.

Silence won’t do it for me, congressman. It shouldn’t do it for your other constituents, either.

Seize the moment, Rep. Thornberry.

This is an ‘American crisis’

I want to echo a view that’s been expressed in the growing debate over gun violence.

It is that we are in the midst of an “American crisis” that transcends partisan politics.

Seventeen more Americans were gunned down on Valentine’s Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. It has ignited rage among students who want the school-related carnage to end.

Parents and other loved ones gathered today at the White House to implore Donald Trump to take action to stop it. The president listened, offered some of his own views.

There is a common theme running through much of the discussion we are hearing. It is that the nation ought to unite behind the cause of searching for a solution to stop the bloodshed.

It might be a mighty stretch to believe we can set aside partisan differences in that search. It remains my fervent hope that just perhaps we have reached our national breaking point — and that we can find enough common ground to solve this national crisis.

Now … will POTUS act on what he heard?

Donald J. Trump today conducted an extraordinary event at the White House.

He sat silently and listened to survivors and loved ones from three infamous school massacres. They implored him to do something about gun violence. They spoke emotionally, even tearfully, about the inflicted by gunmen at Columbine, Sandy Hook and at Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

Those are the names of schools where students and teachers died in once-unthinkable spasms of violence.

I applaud the president for staging this event. Was it all for show? Was it just a photo op? Well, many of these events are put together for public consumption. That doesn’t diminish the need for the president to hear the words that came forth.

As Trump was fielding comments from still-grieving parents and students, others from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the scene of the most recent school-campus massacre, were in Tallahassee, Fla., urging state legislators to act on their pleas to end the school violence.

It’s not clear whether the students got through to the lawmakers. My hope is that they did, quite obviously.

As for Trump’s listening session today at the White House, as much as I applaud the president for conducting the session, I believe it is reasonable to wonder whether the president actually heard the folks who sat with him.

Trump does seem incapable at times of opening his ears and listening with all due attention to the concerns of others. The president appeared fixated on the notion of arming teachers. I disagree with that idea, but he did ask those in attendance about their views on whether teachers should be armed; it was a mixed response.

My hope is that Trump heard the concerns. I hope also that he actually feels the pain expressed by the loved ones of those innocent victims. As Politico reported: “It should have been one school shooting and we should have fixed it. I’m pissed. Because my daughter, I’m not going to see again,” said Andrew Pollack, who was pictured last week looking for his daughter Meadow wearing a Trump 2020 t-shirt. “It’s enough. Let’s get together, work with the president and fix the schools.”

Listening to the concerns of those who have suffered such grievous loss is a start. My concern lies in how all this will end.

Are teens spooking the pols?

I can think of few things that would be juicier than the idea of teenagers throwing a serious scare into politicians over the issue of gun violence.

The shooter who massacred those 17 people in Parkland, Fla., including 14 high school students, well might have launched a political juggernaut.

It’s true that the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado didn’t do it. Nor did the Sandy Hook Elementary School slaughter in Connecticut. This tragic event, though, seems different.

Teens are mounting rallies. Today, a busload of teenagers rode to Tallahassee, Fla., to pressure lawmakers to do something about gun violence. The Florida Senate today, to its shame, voted down a bill that would have banned the sale of assault rifles in that state.

That won’t deter the young activists from expressing their anger and outrage over politicians’ historic inaction — indeed, their cowardice — in facing head-on the ongoing gun violence crisis.

We’re beginning to hear rumblings of gun reform from Republican politicians. At least two GOP governors — Rick Scott of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas — have spoken out loud about the need for gun law reform.

And, oh yes, the president of the United States, Donald Trump, has spoken the words, too.

They understand, I’m quite sure, that many of the teenagers already have the power to vote. Others will join them soon. In the wake of this grievous action in Parkland, they now are speaking with a single, angry voice.

Trump once more seeks to outshine his predecessor

I am not the least bit qualified to psychoanalyze anyone, let alone the president of the United States.

However, I am entitled to ask what I think is a pertinent question: Why does Donald Trump seem so fixated on comparing his record with that of his predecessor, Barack Obama?

Good grief! He did it again this week.

Trump said he has been tougher on the Russians than the former president ever was. Wrong!

Trump has said his 2017 inauguration drew the largest crowd in history, even more than Barack Obama’s 2009 inaugural. Wrong again!

The president has sought to repeal Obama-era executive orders at every turn.

Trump seeks constantly to denigrate the former president’s accomplishments while trumpeting his own made-up victories.

I know he sees the same reports that have come to others’ attention. Try this one, for instance: Historians are starting to rate Barack Obama’s presidency among the top 10 in U.S. history; these historians already have labeled Trump’s tenure as president as the worst ever.

That’s got to grate on Trump. Yes? The president and his allies certainly are going to suggest that the comparisons are part of some “liberal bias” that favors Obama over Trump. That’s their right. I would merely disagree with that assertion.

Trump’s obsession with Obama’s record and the continual attempts — trite and shallow as they seem — are bothersome. They suggest to me a startling insecurity in the current president.

How strange. Oops. I just slipped in a bit of psychoanalysis.

Since I’m no doctor, I’ll just leave it at that.

Remember when Obama was going to disarm us?

All this hubbub over gun control, gun violence and whether Donald Trump would inject the power of the presidency into this debate sparked a memory.

It involves former President Barack H. Obama. You see, Obama faced crises similar to what we’re facing now. Shooters opened fire in public schools, in movie theaters and shopping malls. The president would speak to the nation about the need to curb gun violence.

After the Sandy Hook school massacre in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 children and six educators, Obama was moved to tears. He spoke of the innocent children who died along the teacher heroes who fought to spare them from the carnage. He demanded legislation that would curb gun violence.

Then the gun lobby kicked into high gear. It asserted that the president intended to disarm Americans. Obama didn’t respect the Second Amendment, they said.

Despite all the rhetoric we heard from Obama and those of his allies, the Second Amendment remains untouched from the day it was written by the Founding Fathers.

Then just today we hear that the president of the United States, Donald Trump, wants the Justice Department to propose regulations banning bump stocks, the devices used to turn semi-automatic weapons into machine guns. A bump stock isn’t the issue with regard to the Parkland, Fla., school massacre, but it does speak to the issue of gun regulation.

I am waiting now for the gun lobby to rise up against Donald Trump. Will the gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association, accuse the president of seeking to disarm the “law-abiding” public that cherishes firearm ownership?

I doubt we’ll hear it this time. I mean, this president says he favors gun ownership and he favors the Second Amendment.

However, I also believe President Obama sought to assure Americans he also supported the Second Amendment. Yes, I know he said something about following the Australia model, which called for confiscation of firearms after a massacre there in 1996.

The result, though, is that nothing happened. We are as armed today as we ever have been.

I’ll continue to assert that there are ways to tighten regulations without subverting the Second Amendment. I have no solutions. I do have hope — although it is diminishing rapidly — that we can find one.

Bump stocks on the way out … it’s a start

Now we’re getting somewhere.

Donald Trump today announced plans to get rid of bump stocks, devices used on semi-automatic weapons to turn them into fully automatic weapons.

To that I can say only: good show, Mr. President!

Bump stocks came to the fore after the Las Vegas massacre that killed 59 people attending a country music festival. The shooter killed himself after he had turned his rifle into a machine gun that he unloaded on festival attendees.

The latest tragedy involves high school students who were mowed down in Parkland, Fla. According to The Hill: “We can do more to protect our children. We must do more to protect our children,” Trump said during the announcement at the White House.

Yes, we can — and we must protect our children.

Trump has been a bit slow to call attention to ways we can seek solutions to this crisis. The president has directed the Justice Department to propose regulations that would eliminate bump stocks.

Oh, how I hope that members of Congress are now frightened by threats delivered by gun lobbyists who see bump-stock elimination would somehow run counter to the Second Amendment’s guarantee of firearm ownership.

Who in the world needs a device that turns semi-auto weapons into killing machines? I have the answer: killers.

The founders never envisioned this perversion of the amendment that they wrote into the U.S. Constitution.

Yet another tragedy falls victim to politics

Donald Trump’s incessant use of Twitter could enable him to use the social medium to comfort and console families suffering from unspeakable grief.

Yes, the president did offer his “thoughts and prayers” to families and other loved ones in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., school massacre on Valentine’s Day.

Then he followed up with a tweet over the weekend that reveals, in my mind, the kind of person Trump really is.

He blamed the FBI for failing to respond to tips about the alleged shooter because the agency was “too busy” investigating the Trump presidential campaign’s alleged collusion with Russian hackers who meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

There you have it. When the president is handed an opportunity to criticize law enforcement, by golly he jumps all over it — even when the criticism is juxtaposed with a nation’s grief over another spasm of gun violence.

The president has drawn criticism from politicians of both parties over this response. Will it sink in? Will he heed what members of his own party are saying? Hah! Hardly.

Does this man have any sense of decency? Any sense of shame? Any sense of compassion or empathy? I concluded long ago the answer is an unequivocal “no!”