The recent mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, has brought back the same familiar pain we all experience after every school shooting in America.
The Sandy Hook massacre; Santa Fe High School shooting near Houston; Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida; Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, and of course, the shooting here in our own community at Cummings Elementary School.
And while no one died in the Cummings incident, it clearly shook our community.
Even though I do not live in Uvalde, Texas, and was not there during this massacre, I cannot get these images of the shooter committing these horrific acts against these helpless children out of my head. The imagery of those kids and teachers being murdered in that school is heartbreaking.
The tragedy in Uvalde was one of more than two dozen school shootings in America so far this year. We’re all searching for answers as to how we stop these horrible acts of violence against our children.
There are so many dimensions to this incident:
The response (or lack thereof) of the Uvalde police department.
The disappearance of that town’s chief of police, who is now in hiding.
The mental health of both children and adults who witnessed the carnage in those classrooms.
The despicable comments from some politicians and gun rights lobbyist.
And, of course, the families of the victims as they continue to lay their loved ones to rest and try to make sense of all the chaos that surrounds them.
These kinds of incidents continue to feed ongoing debates across the nation about how best to keep our schools safe.
In my early years as a school principal, I vehemently opposed having police officers in my school. As a charter school, we had that option.
However, situations changed in my latter years, and my attitude towards safety and security changed considerably. I learned to embrace the role of police and security officers in keeping my school safe.
The officers blended well into our environment, and they helped greatly in preventing certain kinds of incidents from escalating both inside and outside of our school campus.
The so-called school-to-prison pipeline, for example, never was a concern because of how we addressed every issue in which our officers were involved.
Our security team was a calming force in our school. They stayed in their lane and helped immensely in creating a safe and orderly environment.
But those who oppose the presence of armed security guards or police officers in our schools must realize that we live in a different world now.
Our children are our most precious possession. Our schools need protection. All of them.
Will having police protection prevent these incidents (mass shootings) from occurring in the future? Maybe not completely, but we must believe that it will serve as an effective deterrent.
This is not a one-solution kind of issue. Gun violence in America is simply out of control.
We need to throw the entire wish list of gun-control measures at this problem, including assault-weapon bans, ammunition magazine restrictions, red-flag laws, universal background checks, higher age restrictions for gun purchases and waiting periods.
Conservative politicians have done the opposite. They have loosened restrictions and expanded access to more and more guns.
The Texas shooter had just turned 18 and was able to walk into a store and legally purchase an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and ammunition to use in killing those children.
The circus of events and the incompetence of law enforcement in Uvalde, Texas, has been mind-boggling and quite disgusting.
The National Rifle Association and Republican politicians like to quote a phrase they’ve coined for situations such as this. They like to say, “The way you stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.”
In this case, Uvalde law enforcement in their handling of this mass shooting disproved that notion in grand fashion.
I’m just afraid this issue will wind up like others we have seen in the past. There will continue to be much public outrage in the short term, but it soon simmers to a slow boil, and then a few years down the road we all will retreat into the routines of our daily lives.
Nothing will have changed.
We will just await the next mass execution of our children and repeat the cycle all over again.
I have no confidence in our political leaders’ ability to adequately address this issue. They are too divided.
More children will die and we, as a society, will morph into a pitiful community of do-nothing citizens who don’t have the backbone to do what is right to protect our children and our community.
No words can ease the pain those parents, students, teachers and that entire community feel right now.
The incompetence and the way this situation is being handled is a total disgrace. Those families deserve better. That community deserves better. The American people deserve better.
We will continue to pray for the Uvalde community and, in particular, those families who lost loved ones. I am hopeful and prayerful that their losses will not be in vain.
(Follow TSD education columnist Curtis Weathers on Twitter (@curtisweathers); email: [email protected].)