Tag Archives: gun violence

Yes! on money for training center

Mention the word “Uvalde” and you’re going to get a smorgasbord of responses. One of them should be what the Department of Public Safety is asking of the Texas Legislature.

DPS is seeking that it calls a $466 million “down payment” on a statewide training center aimed at refining law enforcement responses to situations such as what occurred earlier this year at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

The money hasn’t been officially requested as part of the DPS’s funding package. But it’s a must-spend, given what transpired in Uvalde.

You know the tragic story by now. Nineteen fourth graders and two teaches were slaughtered by a gunman. The response — or lack of response — by the Uvalde school district police force, DPS, county deputies and city police officers has been the subject of considerable discussion and debate in the months since the tragedy.

The Texas Tribune reports: The Texas Department of Public Safety wants $1.2 billion to turn its training center north of Austin into a full-time statewide law enforcement academy — starting with a state-of-the-art active-shooter facility that would need a nearly half-billion-dollar investment from Texas taxpayers next year.

DPS operates a training center in Williamson. The “down payment” request seeks to provide a dramatic upgrade to the DPS effort to prepare its troopers for future situations such as what occurred at Robb Elementary School. Make no mistake: there will be another explosion of violence.

As the Tribune reports: A “state-of-the-art” active-shooter facility would be built with the first round of funding next year and could be used “right off the bat,” independent of the rest of the proposed upgrades, to immediately enhance active-shooter response by Texas law enforcement, McCraw said in a brief presentation before the Texas Legislative Budget Board on Oct. 4.

Texas DPS wants $1.2 billion for academy, active-shooter facility | The Texas Tribune

I want to offer a hearty and heartfelt endorsement of what DPS is seeking from our Legislature. They are going to report for duty in January with a substantial surplus of funds. Here is a wise way to spend some of it … to help law enforcement protect our children from future madness.


Man becomes hero … household name

Richard Fierro’s life may have changed forever simply because he and another individual acted on instinct in a moment of extreme peril.

Wow. What does one say about someone who confronts a lunatic in a nightclub who has just opened fire on the patrons of the club, killing five of them … including the boyfriend of the hero’s daughter?

The suspect who killed those five individuals in the Colorado Springs gay bar is now in custody. He went to court Wednesday looking for all the world like someone who got beaten to within an inch of his life. Who did the damage? Richard Fierro!

It’s been reported that Fierro is an Army veteran. He said he acted instinctively when he heard the gunshots in the Q Club. He took the shooter down and began beating him with his own weapon.

The gun tragedy, which sadly isn’t even the most recent event to grab our attention, has rallied the gay community across the nation. Not much is known about the suspect, although a video has gone viral with a man who said he is the shooter’s father proclaiming he is glad his son isn’t gay; no mention of the victims.


I am going to keep the families of the victims in my thoughts today as we partake our Thanksgiving dinner. I also will say a prayer of thanks for the heroes who stopped the lunatic before he could do more damage.


Happy birthday, Mr. POTUS

Mr. President, I want to be among the millions of Americans who are wishing you a happy birthday.

So … today you are completing your 80th journey around the sun. I wish you many more such trips. Now, allow me to get to the point of this greeting.

You say you “intend” to seek re-election in 2024. I don’t read that as a definite “yes, I am a candidate for another four years as president.” You have said something about being a believer in “fate.” Hmm.

Allow me to ask you, as one who voted for you in 2020, to declare your candidacy sooner rather than later.

I get the “fate” part. I believe in fate, too, Mr. President and I also believe that fate occasionally gets in the way of the best-laid plans.

I also believe that you have done a good job as president and I want you to keep doing what you’ve done on my behalf. It hasn’t been a perfect term to be sure. Then again, no president in the history of this republic has governed perfectly. There have been mistakes among even the greatest of the great men who have been elected to this high and noble office.

I supported your election because I believed in 2020 that you represented a return to presidential norms that had been tossed aside by your immediate predecessor. I supported you because I believe that being a “career politician” is not an epithet, but that it is a signal of your commitment to public service. That, too, is something your immediate predecessor never experienced in his entire life preceding his fluke election as POTUS … and it showed during his term in office.

I also supported your election because of your demonstrated record of working with pols on both sides of the great divide and your vast knowledge of the complexities of government.

Your commitment to battling climate change, to seeking a better world that respects human rights, to seeking legislation that can end senseless gun violence, to repairing our infrastructure all are worthy of my continued support. I will support those efforts wholeheartedly.

I also will support your defense of our democratic process that you declared rightly during the midterm election to be “on the ballot.” Our nation cannot condone these attacks on the fundamental principles and tenets that make ours the greatest country on Earth.

Mr. President, I am in your corner.


Another shooting … more anger

Another madman opened fire, this time at the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville.

Three victims are dead; two more are injured. The suspect has been caught and is in police custody.

In keeping with policy established for this blog, I am going to refrain from publishing the moron’s name. I just am going to thank God Almighty in heaven that the cops were able to arrest him and throw him in the slammer.

This is yet another “mass shooting,” which the event has been defined under the definition ascribed to these kinds of tragedies.

It’s a strange case. The shooter reportedly is a former member of the UVa football team. His victims were current members of the team.

May the prosecutors find enough evidence to convict this guy and dish out the appropriate sentence. May we also continue to apply pressure on lawmakers to do something — finally! — to end the senseless violence that continues to plague our land.


Fake calls need stern punishment

Call it a disturbing sign of these most disturbing times, with tension running white-hot whenever police respond to calls of an “active shooter” on school grounds.

Still, with an increase of fake calls, police are being tested in ways they haven’t seen before. My own view is that those who make those bogus calls need to be sought out and punished strictly for the havoc they are create.

It is a disgraceful symptom of the era we entered a long time ago.

The Texas Tribune reported: “Events like this shake everyone to the core,” said Kathy Martinez-Prather, the director of the Texas School Safety Center at Texas State University. “It is definitely a situation that is at the top of mind of parents right now.”

All of this appears to be part of the damage brought by the lunatic who opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. He killed 19 fourth-graders and two teachers before police — finally! — were able to shoot him to death.

A recent fake shooter incident involved Central Catholic High School in San Antonio. Police evacuated the 500 students enrolled in the school. Once they delivered the all-clear, officials said they would make counseling services available to the students.

Texas hoax active-shooter calls put parents, police on edge | The Texas Tribune

This is a reprehensible consequence of the Uvalde massacre. To think that more of these fake calls are coming in, subjecting students, teachers, administrators and parents to unnecessary trauma simply strains one’s tolerance for such nonsense.

Those who make those calls need to be hunted down — to the extent that law enforcement is able to find them — and given the harshest punishment possible.


Considering straight-ticket ballot

For as long as I’ve been voting, and that goes back to 1972, I have resisted the notion of voting for candidates of just one party.

I am rethinking that personal policy as the 2022 midterm election draws closer.

I want to be clear. I won’t punch the straight-ticket slot on my ballot. Hah! I can’t do it anyway, as we no longer have that option in Texas. However, the state of policy in the Republican Party makes it virtually impossible for me to support anyone who endorses the platform set forth by the GOP.

I refer to its hideous criminalization of abortion, its election denial based on The Big Lie fomented by the GOP’s titular head (the immediate past president of the U.S.A.), its refusal to consider legislative remedies to gun violence.

Democrats up and down the ballot are likely to get my vote in 2022. Not all of them, mind you. I might just pass over some of the statewide contests on the ballot; some of the races remain mysteries to me.

I went to a Princeton Independent School District candidate forum recently and heard from a spectator that one of the candidates is the “only suitable Republican” running for one of two seats on the PISD school board. I reminded the young man that the candidates run as non-partisans; they aren’t Democrats or Republicans. That candidate might get my vote, but it doesn’t count as a partisan decision.

The partisan ballot, though, is full of clear choices. My mind is pretty much made up as early voting is about to commence. Still — and this is important — I intend fully to vote on Election Day. I want to hold off on committing my ballot to any candidate early in case the candidate messes up and makes me regret my vote.

The contests for Congress, for key statewide offices appear likely to be one-sided for this voter … if you get my drift.


Guns: decisive issue

(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

It occurs to me that the race for Texas governor well could turn on a single issue, but that issue will have profoundly different impacts on the two major candidates seeking to win that contest.

Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic candidate, once said, “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15.” He was speaking at a presidential primary debate in 2020. He got pounded for that remark, which he has since walked back a good distance.

Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate for governor, was on the watch when the gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde; he killed 19 children and two teachers. Abbott has had ample chance to use this incident as a rallying cry for legislative reform of our gun laws but has remained silent.

O’Rourke is not going to disarm law-abiding Texans, taking away their weaponry. Abbott can do little by himself to stem the gun violence, such as what occurred in Uvalde.

Something tells me, though, that guns well could determine who wins this contest.


Uvalde commences housecleaning

Well now, this was something I didn’t see coming … the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District suspending its entire police department and then learning that the superintendent is going to retire.

Whenever you think of “Uvalde,” you know the first thing that pops into your head: the slaughter in May of those 19 precious children and two teachers who sought to protect them from the madman who opened fire with an AR-15 rifle at Robb Elementary School.

The fallout from that horrifying event just continues to shower a school district that is searching deeply for answers.

The Texas Tribune reported that the Uvalde district fired a police officer after it learned he was one of the first Department of Public Safety troopers on the scene when the carnage exploded. The trooper, it turns out, has been under investigation by DPS for her conduct when the shooting erupted. The district also has fired former Police Chief Pete Arredondo. This week, it suspended two school district officers and reassigned all the others to various assignments within the district.

Now comes the report of a pending retirement from Superintendent Hal Harrell. Get a load of this: Harrell graduated from Uvalde High School and has spent his entire career as an educator within the school district, serving as superintendent since 2018.

There once was a time when you thought of “Uvalde,” you would have thought, perhaps, of Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey — a native of that community. No more.

Uvalde school district suspends its entire police department | The Texas Tribune

All of this makes this latest development so astonishing.

Our entire state continues to grieve over the horrendous loss of life on that day. This year’s campaign for governor has focused intently on the action — or inaction — by the state in response to what happened that day.

The Uvalde CISD has many issues to unpack and correct as it moves forward. I am going to believe the district will enlist officers from the city police department and the sheriff’s department to assist in securing its campuses.

The state and nation will be watching … intently.


Use the ‘bully pulpit’ to end gun violence

Greg Abbott has a forum called the “bully pulpit” to advance causes he deems essential. The Texas governor has used it with minimal effect to call attention to illegal immigration.

The Republican, though, needs to fire it up to talk about another key issue on the minds of parents, students and educators: gun violence in our schools.

You know what I’m talking about. The Uvalde school massacre in May remains on the top of Texans’ minds as Abbott campaigns for re-election against Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke.

We’re seeing campaign ads now calling attention to what Abbott has failed to do in the wake of Uvalde. He has opposed efforts to increase the minimum age for those who purchase weapons from 18 to 21 years of age. He has failed to call a special legislative session to deal forthrightly with gun violence.

O’Rourke is seeking to make Abbott’s non-response to Uvalde a campaign issue. I don’t yet know whether it is resonating with voters who are sickened by what happened at Robb Elementary School, when a lunatic packing an AR-15 rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammo walked into the school and slaughtered 19 fourth graders and two educators who sought to protect the children.

One of our nation’s greatest Republicans, Theodore Roosevelt, used to proclaim that the bully pulpit existed precisely for officeholders to further worthy causes. Protecting our children against random acts of evil certainly qualifies … yes?


‘Uvalde’ takes on added weight

Forgive me if I am overstating what appears to be occurring, but it seems to me that the very name “Uvalde” is taking on a significance given to few communities struck by the kind of tragedy that befell that small South Texas town.

It’s as if the very name of the town is becoming a rallying cry, kind of like “Remember the Alamo!” has become part of Texas lore. The Uvalde reference, though, reaches far beyond the state borders. It touches the entire nation, if not the world.

Uvalde no longer is just Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey’s hometown, which very well could have been enough to sustain it during another era.

It was the place where a madman opened fire in an elementary school and slaughtered 19 precious children and two teachers who fought to protect them. It was the place where combined law enforcement, in the words of Texas Department of Public Safety director Stephen McCraw, delivered an “abject failure” to protect those innocent victims.

Uvalde has become the symbol of the call for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special legislative session to enact laws that make it just a little bit tougher for individuals to purchase the kind of weapon the shooter used at Robb Elementary School.

And Uvalde has become the catalyst for school systems throughout the state and the nation to rethink their security protocols and to do whatever it takes to protect the lives of the children and those who are assigned to care for and to teach them.

I fear for the community’s sake that whenever any of its 15,000 residents travel and someone asks them, “Where are you from?” that they’ll receive a sad, but perhaps heartwarming response from those who pose the question.

The love that might come back to Uvalde is worth retaining. The sadness? At some level I hope it dissipates … but that it doesn’t disappear completely.

Society needs reminders, I regret to say, of the tragedy that can erupt in any community within this great country.