I am still processing the most recent mass shooting in this country. As of today, there have been 27 school shootings with injuries or deaths in this country this year. Education Week tracks school shootings where a firearm was discharged and where any person (other than the suspect) has a bullet wound resulting from the incident. It doesn’t track cases in which the only shots fired were from a school resource officer or police officer.
When Justice Isn’t Served, All of Us Are Obligated to Do More
Fact: There have been 288 school shootings since 2009 in the United States. There have been 2 in Canada and France and 1 in Germany, Japan, Italy and the UK have had 0 shootings.
Fact: On May 24, 2022, 19 children and two adults were killed and 16 injured in a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas with an assault weapon capable of mass destruction and designed to shred its target. It was the deadliest school shooting since 2012, when a gunman shot and killed 26 people as young as 6 years old at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Fatalities exceeded those in the 2018 attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., which left 17 dead. The assailant also shot and injured his grandmother at her home prior to the incident.
Fact: Each day 12 children die from gun violence in America. Another 32 are shot and injured.
Fact: The stronger a state’s gun safety laws, the fewer people die by gun violence. Over 80% of Americans support stronger gun safety laws. However, the United States Senate can’t seem to get 60 votes to strengthen gun laws and decrease shootings.
Fact: Background checks save lives. Firearm purchaser licensing laws that require an “in-person” application or fingerprinting are associated with an estimated 56 percent fewer fatal mass shootings in states that have them. The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated shutdowns allowed people to exploit loopholes in the background check laws. This resulted in more guns being sold to people without a background check, which means there are more guns in the hands of people who should not have them.
The Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions reports that research shows that the 18-20-year-old age group is among the highest risk to commit violence with firearms, yet in most states the ability to purchase these deadly weapons is less restricted than the ability to purchase beer.
Almost every tragic situation yields more questions than answers. This situation is no different.
Pause and Reflect:
According to reports, the gunman who opened fire at Robb Elementary School on Tuesday, killing 19 children and 2 teachers, said “I’m going to shoot an elementary school” in a Facebook message 15 minutes before he barricaded himself inside a classroom and fired indiscriminately. Several co-workers reported that the shooter’s nickname was “School Shooter.” They described him as “aggressive” and “intimidating.” He also said, “I’m going to shoot my grandmother” and “I shot my grandmother” in two other posts.
It’s More Difficult To Get An Abortion Than To Buy An Assault Rifle
Let that sink in for a minute. In most states you have a mandatory 48 hour waiting period, need parental permission, a note from your doctor proving that you understand what you’re about to do, and you must watch a video educating you about the impact of this decision. Imagine if a prospective gun purchaser had to go through a similar process. Let’s not stop there. Make the prospective gun purchaser walk through a hostile crowd of people yelling “Murderer,” on the way to the cash register.
Publisher’s Note: I am on record as saying that I see everything through a “racial prism.” That does not mean that everything that I advocate is not factual, fair, and balanced. In the emotionally charged aftermath of school shootings, politics becomes a part of the narrative and discussion. Lobbyists, politicians, activists, the news media, and ordinary citizens will cite statistics, (some deliberately made up and others, biased by emotion), that can present a distorted view to gain leverage in the ongoing debate and power struggle pertaining to gun control, arming teachers, and school security. Anyone who has a platform, where people follow you, has an obligation to use that platform to improve the lives of others.
There are “differential consequences” along racial lines when it comes to how perpetrators are treated in mass shootings. In other words, there is a clear difference between how white gunmen are treated and how Black and Brown gunmen are treated. White mass shooters receive much more sympathetic treatment in the media than black shooters, according to a new study that analyzed coverage of 219 attacks. Findings showed that white shooters were 95 percent more likely to be described as “mentally ill” than black shooters.
Case in point about the “differential treatment” between white men with guns and black men with guns when encountered by law enforcement. Remember Dylann Roof? He was the young white gunman who killed 9 people in cold blood in a Charleston, South Carolina church. Roof, like many white killers was captured alive and “untouched.” Roof complained he was hungry. The police drove Roof to a nearby Burger King and bought him dinner while he was in custody on the way to the Police Station to be charged with mass murder. Do you think a black gunman who killed white churchgoers would have been afforded that same courtesy? (I’ll wait). A black gunmen would have been killed by the police.
Police Officers inside Robb Elementary School reportedly spent about an hour negotiating with an “active shooter” while parents outside and children inside begged for the police to rush in to take some type of action to save lives. I find it hard to believe that police would negotiate with an active black shooter. Again, statistical data reflects that a black gunman would have never made it to the Police Station alive.
Number of Mass shootings in the United States Between 1982 and May 2022, by Shooter’s Race or Ethnicity
As a nation, we don’t have what it takes to get rid of the politicians, lobbyists and others who are blocking us from trying something different. What we’re doing is not working. The mass shooting situation is so “normalized” that you can GOOGLE “talking points for mass shootings” and find prepared speeches and remarks. Let that sink in for a moment.
I’ve heard enough and I’ve seen enough. Like many of you I feel sick and helpless at times, but I will not quit or give up. I have a platform that can be used to galvanize others to work together to help end these mass shootings. How long have politicians been talking about expanding background checks for purchasing guns?
How about we publicly identify these “ass hole” politicians, who are more concerned about holding on to power, than serving the needs of their constituents. At the end of the day, these politicians are HORRIBLE HUMAN BEINGS. We know who they are. Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and others who have influence. 80% of Americans are in favor of making it more difficult for people to purchase guns and assault weapons. These mass shootings continue because collectively, “we” have accepted mass shootings in America as “normal.” This is NOT normal.
OK Gary? What Can I Do?
I believe that one person can make a difference. I’m doing my part. Please consider doing yours.
Sources: Local and national news outlets, school and district websites, news alerts via online search engines, the Gun Violence Archive, the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions Everytown for Gun Safety, Statista and Sandy Hook Promise.
Gary Johnson is the Founder and Publisher of Black Men In America.com, an online news and magazine, and the Host and Executive Producer of Calculations Talk Show.com. Gary is also the author of the book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life,”: A Quick and Comprehensive Guide To Making Your Life Better—Today! and “The Black Father Perspective: What We Want America To Know,”and “In Search of Fatherhood – Transcending Boundaries: International Conversations on Fatherhood.“ In 2019, Gary developed a line of spices under the name of “MasterChef Gary’s Premium Organic Seasoning.”