One of the first e-mails I had waiting for me when I got home from work yesterday afternoon was from my sister, who lives in Ohio, asking where Parkland, Florida, is and what I knew about the area. My brother, who was cc’d on the e-mail, replied before I could with a link to Google Maps showing, as I did in the post yesterday evening, that it is within an hour’s drive of my home.
The massacre of seventeen people at a public school is a horrific event, and it really doesn’t matter to me that it was in the next county. According to people who count these things, this was the eighteenth school shooting this year and it’s February 15. At this rate, we’re going to have another 100 by the end of the year.
We have already heard from our alleged leaders that their “thoughts and prayers” are with the families of those who have been killed and injured and the community. Well, that’s all very nice, but a Hallmark card isn’t made of Kevlar and all the appeals to a deity haven’t yet stopped a determined shooter from getting in to where they can unload their AR15. And some bigmouth on cable TV will say, if they already haven’t, that someone at the school should have been armed and that would have ended it before it began. The fact is that this particular high school, like most large high schools in this part of Florida, had two armed police officers stationed at the school. They’re not hired security guards, either; they are sworn officers of the law. But they’re patrolling a campus with 3,000 students plus staff, so basically they’re keeping watch over a small town. They can’t be everywhere, and unlike the Rambos of the wet dreams of the NRA and the gun lobby, they don’t just fire at the first sound of gunfire. Their first priority is to get the rest of the students and staff out of harm’s way and to safety, then go after the shooter. Period.
We’re also going to hear gunslingers tell us it’s “too soon” to talk about gun control and banning certain types of weapons or anything else that resembles a sane approach to this uniquely American epidemic of slaughter. According to them, we shouldn’t let the emotions of these events overwhelm us and make us do something rash or that threatens the sanctity of the Second Amendment. What they’re really saying is “Don’t do anything until we’ve come up with some kind of argument against whatever reasonable and effective solutions, such as a national database or thorough background checks, you come up with because we haven’t worked up our counterarguments yet.”
But in a way the gun advocates have already won. It’s been almost twenty years since Columbine, it’s been five since Sandy Hook; if killing children is acceptable to our society, so indicated by our profound lack of an ability to do anything more than think and pray, then all the black ribbons and blog postings aren’t going to make a difference; we accept them as the norm now. The fact that this one took place in a town less than an hour from my front door doesn’t matter. They are all close to home.