By Jeremy Steiner / Herald Forum
Another day, another shooting. This phrase is said far too often in American life. Unfortunately, it will be repeated over and over again until we find the will and way to end it.
On a recent Monday, at a small, private school in one of the safest neighborhoods in Nashville, Tenn., this tragic American nightmare occurred again. A former student with an emotional disorder, armed with two assault-style weapons, shot through the school’s locked glass doors and murdered three 9-year-old children three adults in their 60s. Within minutes, police arrived and under gunfire abd fatally shot the female shooter.
In 2023, the cycle of shootings has been a constant fixture. The week before this week, there were three school shootings. This year: 13 school shootings and 130 mass shootings. The leading cause of death among American kids is now gun violence.
For more than 60 years car crashes were the leading cause of child deaths. In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the main reason for vehicle wrecks was cell phone use by both young drivers and pedestrians. Over time, we found the will in society to say enough: Laws were passed to restrict phone usage. Cars are now safer and driver education improving.
The school in Nashville was founded in 2001 as a ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church. The same year as the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil.
Shortly after 9/11, the federal government swiftly formed one of the most effective and successful anti-terrorist organizations in history. The creation of the Department of Homeland Security that brought together more than 20 separate government agencies into one Cabinet-level department with more than 260,000 employees, spending billions of dollars to protect the homeland from outside terrorism.
The mission of Homeland Security remains to secure the nation from the various threats facing us. And it has succeeded. Over the past 20 years since its inception, another major terrorist attack has not occurred within our borders. Even minor incidents have been greatly reduced so that within some years, there have been zero deaths or injuries.
The nation came together and annihilated the threat of terrorism, both here and abroad. In a recent Gallup poll, Americans were asked the most important problem facing the country today. The concern of terrorism received less than half of 1 percent.
Now we face another grave danger concerning school and mass shootings. Both police and the public show strong support for tighter gun restrictions and regulations. A number of police position papers and polls prove the overwhelming support for gun control on several levels: universal background checks, assault weapon bans, age limits, red flag laws, prohibiting open carry, waiting periods, ending gun show loopholes and registries.
America is unique in its gun violence. Most nations have few to no mass shootings. Switzerland is one of the most heavily armed nations in the world with zero school shootings and only one mass shooting on record, 17 years ago.
In Israel, although guns are a familiar public sight, that nation has tight gun control measures, intensive training and little gun ownership. They haven’t had a school shooting since 1974. Security guards and systems keep the students safe; the teachers are unarmed and teach in secure schools.
It took only one school shooting for the United Kingdom to pass major gun measures. They haven’t had another school shooting for over 25 years. In 1996, a man opened fire in a school gym in Scotland, killing 16 children. The British banned the ownership of most handguns. Automatic and semi-automatic rifles were already outlawed. In 2002, a German gunman killed 16 people at his former school, so stricter gun laws were passed. Germany bans fully automatic weapons, and if you’re under 25, gun buyers have to pass a psychological exam. They’ve had no school shootings since.
America stands apart because of the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, providing rights for gun ownership. This controversial right to guns is viewed as both a blessing and a curse; trying to make changes through legislation has always been a challenge.
But change can happen. Several surveys show strong support in the public from voters in both political parties for passing a variety of gun control measures. Will Republicans finally have the courage to stand against the National Rifle Association? During and after his two terms as governor and president, Ronald Reagan took on the gun lobby several times and helped pass meaningful legislation including banning open carry of firearms and assault-style weapons, and also mandating backround checks. He was lifelong member of the NRA. The GOP should honor his legacy and follow his leadership.
America has always stepped up during difficult times; whether it’s winning wars, creating vaccinations, ending diseases, helping reduce hunger, curbing crime, ensuring clean air and water and righting racial wrongs. Once when airports and airplanes became dangerous, we passed significant security restrictions. Now airports are safe zones and flying is safer than driving.
Why can’t our schools also become the safest places in America?
Jeremy Steiner is executive producer for the nationally syndicated Michael Medved radio show and lives in Edmonds.
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