What a strange week in Texas. On May 25, 2022; an eighteen-year-old gunman, Salvador Ramos killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. Before heading to the school for the shooting spree, the killer had killed his grandmother. The shooter had even posted messages on the social platform Yubo that he was about “to shoot up an elementary school,” before embarking on his carnage.
Image courtesy cnn.com
Interestingly he had purchased two AR-15 style semiautomatic weapons within a week of his 18th birthday, including the rifle he used in the shooting spree. The families of school children and the nation were in a state of shock at the tragic shooting, when more shocking news came that the police who arrived at the scene waited around an hour before entering the classroom, where the shooter had locked himself in. The average age of children in this massacre is 9 to 10. The innocence of children and barbarity with which they became victims resonates the deepest pains specially in Texas, as the survivors are transported back to Sandy Hook School incident when twenty-six first graders and educators were slain on December 14, 2012; right before Christmas.
Day after on May 27, 2022; the annual three-day convention and gun show of NRA (National Rifle Association) started in Houston. Unfortunately, the timing of convention was like adding a pinch of salt to the wounds of the nation. The convention became an emblematic of stark political divide facing the nation on the issue of gun control, which was reflected in the protests against the NRA and counter-protesters during the convention.
This is not first mass shooting in a school in the state of Texas, or in the nation of USA. Unfortunately, these events have become recurring as they raise their head frequently. The mass shootings have grown more frequent and more lethal in the last decade. Then after the tragic events the politicians make their vows that such incidents will not happen in future, and there will be measures put in place to prevent those from happening. However, whatever action is taken or because of lack of any concrete action such carnage continues to happen, and innocent lives are lost. Any attempts of guns regulation is termed by NRA as “restricting the fundamental human right of law-abiding Americans to defend themselves.”
Although, with the stark political divide along with a strong lobby arm of NRA, much of the reform efforts gets stymied, but still as nation we have to think what effective measures can be put in place, so that the carnages of such scale cannot take place in future. Here are few ideas worth pursuing without getting embroiled in the political divide on the issue of gun control.
- When a person turns eighteen that person has to take a driver’s test to get a license to drive a car, a similar requirement for purchase of gun should be made mandatory.
- There should be mandatory guns safety training requirements for owning the guns. If defensive driving can be an effective tool to prevent car accidents, then why such a measure cannot be effectively employed to prevent carnages from happening? The gun safety training should also include a module on the moral responsibility of being a gun holder. In this module the emphasis should be on the responsibility of being a good citizen and a responsible gun holder.
- The purchase of single or multiple automatic, semi-automatic weapons should be termed as ‘weapons of war’ and not a ‘defensive weapon’. It should be regulated so that carnages of tragic proportions do not unfold.
- The School District Police Department should train its police force on how to react to such scenarios independently before the state/city police party arrives at the crime scene.
- There should be armed guards at the school entrances and better security arrangements, cameras that can help security staff during such crisis.
- No potential killer should have free access to post his desire and intention to kill masses on the social media. The social media should not become the broadcasting media for potential killers.
How many more children have to die before the nation realizes it is time to act? Failure to act now under the stubborn belief that any reform is an infringement on gun rights is not pragmatic. The notion that all reform efforts must be stopped at all costs, is akin to helping the next shooter pull the trigger. May the wiser sense prevail, and we see some positive outcome of this blood bath.