A cartoon in the newspaper has an elderly gentleman speaking to a young student. He looks down on him and says, “When I was your age, I had to walk two miles uphill to school in the snow while holding a hot potato. . . .” The kid interrupts and says, “I had to hide in a closet while a mass shooter killed my teacher and friends.”
The gentleman says apologetically, “You have my thought and prayers.” Turning away the student says, “Don’t bother.”
The Valentine Day Massacre in Florida and this cartoon made me think of my own school experience. I rode my bike about a mile to school in New Orleans, but I never worried about being shot. I don’t remember any mass shootings. So I did a little research to find out what happened and when did things change.
The first known mass school shooting in the U.S. took place on April 9, 1891, when 70-year-old James Foster fired a shotgun at a group of students in the playground of St. Mary’s Parochial School, Newburgh, New York, causing minor injuries to several students. Most of the few school shootings after this until the later part of the next century were one on one attacks by students on other students or a teacher, usually involved stabbing with knives or hand guns.
The next mass school shooting takes place on Dec. 30, 1974 in Olean, New York. Anthony Barbaro, a 17-year-old Regents scholar armed with a rifle and shotgun, kills three adults and wounds 11 others at his high school, which was closed for the Christmas holiday.
The first mass school shooting with a semi-automatic rifle happened on June 12, 1976 at California State University where the school’s custodian opened fire in the library on the California State University, Fullerton campus killing seven and wounding two.
The carnage continues.
In the U.S., 18 school shootings have taken place in the first 45 days of 2018. Americans own the most guns per person than any other country in the world. Our gun culture has causes more deaths by armed fellow citizens than in any other high-income nation in the world.
Wow! This needs to change!
Congress passed the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1781. It reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Like all of the 10 Amendments to the Constitution, the right to bear arms is not an unrestricted right.
The National Rifle Association was founded in 1871 to promote shooting ability for hunters and civil defense. The past NRA generations worked with the U.S. government to limit gun traffic where ex-convicts or mental patients were involved. It has about 5 million members.
Today, it is among the most feared and effective players in Washington and the 50 state capitals, where it lobbies and raises money. The NRA influence over politicians is tremendous.
While most Americans want some type of sensible gun restrictions, the politicians are afraid of the widely published report cards giving A to F grades to lawmakers. The cards have been credited with the election (or blamed for the defeat) of many a candidate, including incumbents.
However, students and others are angry and they have a right to be angry. We need to make our schools and our society safe again. Too many innocent children have been killed in the name of the “absolute rights” of certain gun owners. Killing innocent students is an evil worse than abortion.
Those lawmakers and those who oppose sensible gun laws to prevent mass shooting of the innocent are complicit in the evil. We must be pro-life and choose life over guns. We can restrict semi-automatic guns that are only be used for killing people. We can have better background checks for all people.
Let us join the students who are crying out for sensible laws to make our schools and society safe again.