School Shooting—Thoughts and Prayers – No panacea for Tears and Fears – By Yvonne Sam

By Yvonne Sam

The continuing school carnage is a national shame, but the guns and the shooters are not the only ones to be blamed.While guns remain the greatest threat to safety in America, we cannot be so embroiled in the gun debate control that it hinders us from seeing where the truth unfolds.

Firstly my condolences to the families of the victims of the recent Texas school carnage. A young 17 year old walks into Santa Fe High School  in Santa Fe, Texas, and murders up to ten people- eight students and two teachers This latest school shooting failed to evoke little reaction if any from most people, for such behavior has become an  inevitability in America. Following the last school shooting in Parkland, Florida, it  has been the generally–held belief, even among students that it would not be long before another student would walk into a school and kill his classmates and teachers.   Like hospitals schools are soft targets, and as a consequence they must be toughened. 

Without introducing any further level of pessimism, whenever the topic of mass shootings is raised, one of the initial question asked, is the simplest in reality, but also the most difficult to answer.  Why?  Why is this taking place?  Gun control advocates are the first to proffer a ready response—the pervasiveness of guns in the United States.  History reveals that guns have always been a visible part of the fabric of American culture for its entire existence, except that the deadly mass shootings have been a most current occurrence.

As America, bites another bullet and struggles to move on, as has been repeatedly done in the past, we will be subjected to listening to all kinds of media interviews, pressing for stronger gun controls, while on the other hand there will be more influential voices claiming that stronger gun laws have nothing to do with what took place in Santa Fe, Texas.We have seen it all before, it is all so-o-o familiar anger, tribal chants, political outpourings, Second Amendment activists, those who desire armed security at schools, and still those who say that already there are too many guns in America. The tired liturgy will start all over again——re-ignition of the gun debate.

The veritable enigma therefore lies in the following question: What is the wave of school shootings telling America? The answer is neither complex, nor is it to be found in the rubble of the ongoing polarized gun debates. We do not want to understand the answer, for in so doing; it would make us as a people guilty and reveal an ailing culture.

In the somewhat recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that left 17 dead, were so many tell-tale signs that the killer Nicolas Cruz was in desperate need of help. He was mentally disturbed, obsessed with the Columbine massacre, and had been expelled from school for erratic behavior.  School records show that by age 16 he was preoccupied with wars, death and killings. Both the neighbours and his classmates knew that he was problematic but did not report it to the appropriate authorities. There were signs that he was dangerous but they were ignored again and again. The Colombine obsession is not an issue that forms part of this discussion, except that it is being cited as giving potential killers an idea or a potential body count target to surpass. Official reports state that Adam Lanza , the gunman who killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012 had access to ammunition and firearms, an obsession with mass murders, in particular the April 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado.

Documented evidence further shows that Adam would not allow anyone to enter his bedroom, and although he lived in the same house with his mother, communication between the two was done by email. He also sealed his bedroom windows with rubbish bags and duct tape to keep out the natural light, behaviours which clearly reflect a deviation form societal norms. .

While restricting or altering the means of people getting guns, keeping guns away from the mentally ill, as well as weapons of war such as AR 15 rifles off the streets, are certainly not impossible aspirations, it is also evident that on the gun issue, opposing sides must agree. It is utterly imperative that the American government do as it ought, for the nation cannot continue this destructive path to take, especially where the youth, her future is at stake.

Therefore, the key solution to ending gun violence lies in a more caring and responsible America.  Young people especially the males need more moral guidance rather than political advice. The mass killers all male, were not raised in isolation, nor were they hatched in an incubator, but were the product of homes and communities of which we are all a part.  Males filled with hate, anger, negativity, despair and with little or no regard for the lives of others. How were they formed, one may ask? As we pursue our own wants and desires, we directly or indirectly shape these males. In our culture belief in God is sneered at, religion disparaged, tradition dismantled and decency mocked.

DimitriosPagourtzis,  the most recent school killer just 17 years old, is described as a loner who according to reports from his schoolmates began wearing a trench coat a few weeks before the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. At one point the group even jested that his appearance bore a similarity to the Columbine shooters. He laughed it off. Another strange behavior reported by his peers was that Pagourtzis often parked his car on the “whole other side of the parking lot,” farthest from the school.”

In the weeks prior to the shooting, on his Facebook page he posted a picture of a black T shirt inscribed in white with a simple message: “BORN TO KILL.”  There were also a few prior clues as the teenager wrote in journals of his planned desire to carry out such an attack and then commit suicide. It has repeatedly been said that guns do not kill, people do. Were there no adults who noted this bizarre behavior from the alleged shooter and report it to authorities?  Perhaps someone could have helped this troubled teenager who wore a trench coat and military boots  to school even on extremely torrid days.

The killer was wearing his signature trench coat and military boots when he entered the school on Friday, May 18, killing 10 people and wounding ten others. Authorities said the two guns used by Pagourtzis in the school shooting — a sawed off shotgun and a 38 calibre revolver — belonged to his father, who legally owned them.. We must not forget that the killer was only 17 years of age. The law was certainly broken if Dimitrios did not obtain permission from his parents to acquire these firearms, for federal laws in Texas prohibit the commercial transfer of a handgun to anyone under the age of 21, and also the private transfer of a handgun to anyone under the age of 18 years. Because the shooter was 17, he was federally ineligible to be gifted, sold, or leased such a weapon, other than on a temporary basis for “legal sporting purpose.The picture is now plain to see, where the blame truly should be.

The reality that the killer had a hidden supply of home-made bombs concealed under his black trench coat, and others stashed away both inside and outside the school speaks further volumes in itself.  Authorities report that among the killer’s homemade explosives, were pipe bombs, at least one Molotov cocktail and pressure-cooker bombs similar to those used in the Boston Marathon attack. Was no attention being paid to either the gunman or his environment?    Did the parents not realize that their son was dangerously ill?   Did his behavior not spark any level of concern on their part?   The current legalistic culture in which we currently dwell, gives a very narrow definition of responsibility. Who’s responsible for the senseless loss of lives and those who were wounded but survived?

While guns remain the greatest threat to safety in America, we cannot be so embroiled in the gun debate control that it hinders us from seeing where the truth unfolds.  The word school hides the real issue and changes our focus. The guns used by the shooters were not fashioned in woodwork class, but came from home and owned by adults.  To stop the school killings, we must look beyond the acts, and not overlook or fail to recognize the accessory facts—where the violence was created and cultivated: in the home. For all parents the latest shooting should serve as a wake-up call—- In the home you are being deceived while death plans are being conceived.

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