What do we think about America in these troubling times? One of my political mentors taught me to look at her as “a great country, filled with good people who sometimes do amazing things.”
It’s an apt description, even now. It’s one of the first things I thought of when I heard how an off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent grabbed a borrowed shotgun and rushed to Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas to help rescue people in need as soon as he heard there was trouble.
“With (the) assistance of two officers, who provided cover, and another two who escorted the terrified students from the school,” wrote Jessica Schladebeck for the New York Daily News, Jacob Albarado “helped evacuate dozens of kids, including his daughter, Jayda. The pair shared a quick hug upon their reunion” before going on to help others get to safety.
That’s what I want to think about. Not the 19 dead children and the two teachers and the other casualties that occurred that day. For, as much as America’s greatness still resides within us, manifesting itself when it is most needed, we must likewise acknowledge there are bad people among us who sometimes do evil things.
Mankind, for lack of a better word, is imperfect. It’s not clear why that’s so difficult for people to accept. Everyone knows what James Madison wrote in The Federalist papers about there being no need for government “If men were angels.” What many people don’t recall is what followed.
In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.
As Madison would no doubt agree, one of those “auxiliary precautions” is the constitutional guarantee that “the people’s right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” which, even though the United States Supreme Court recently affirmed that right applies to individuals, is once again under attack in the aftermath of the tragedy in Uvalde.
The liberal response is predictable. Without knowing much, they are calling for tougher gun control laws including the prohibition on the sale and possession of certain types of firearms. They’re not interested in knowing why the security protocols press reports have said were in place failed or even what they were and why the police waited so long after the shooter was in the school before they moved in. Instead, they started playing politics, even before the families of the victims had time to bury their dead. Democrat Robert Francis ‘Beto’ O’Rourke, Texas’s pseudo-Latinx wannabe governor, used the shooting as an opportunity to engage in a face-to-face confrontation with the state’s actual governor, Republican Greg Abbott as he and members of law enforcement were busy explaining what had happened.
O’Rourke may have thought he was “speaking truth to power.” What he really did was show just how little class he has. He’ll probably lose in November by a large margin and all I can say to that is “Good riddance.” But he wasn’t the only liberal to go after guns once again.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) blocked a GOP effort Wednesday to codify the Federal School Safety Clearinghouse, a database of information available at SchoolSafety.gov started during the Trump administration, into law. “Hardening schools would’ve done nothing to prevent this shooting. In fact, there were guards and police officers already at the school yesterday when the shooter showed up,” Schumer said. “More guns won’t protect our children.”
Schumer’s lack of knowledge about school safety and firearms only compounds his ignorance regarding human nature. The United States has spent billions since 9/11 to harden airports and federal buildings and other facilities to protect against the threat of terrorism. If that works, and the amount of money spent doing it suggests people believe it will then logically, additional efforts to harden schools will protect children.
If the issue is finding the root cause, then why aren’t the people demanding “something, anything be done” concerned with why no one stopped the bullying the shooter underwent as a child because he lisped and stuttered? Or how government policies toward the poor and underclass may have exacerbated the difficulties he faced at home growing up? Or how the educational system failed to respond in a meaningful, effective way to what appears to have been the shooter’s obvious mental deterioration? Or how the lockdowns imposed because of COVID that closed the schools may have contributed to it all.
There are lots of questions that should be asked in addition to “How did he get a gun?” It’s too bad there aren’t more people interested in asking them. What we’re getting instead is a long-winded, fruitless crusade against firearms once again launched by people who don’t understand guns and gun culture that won’t change anything.
Instead of looking to the prohibitions for the answers, we should look to the people who own guns and understand their legitimate place in society for the answers. As unsettling as the incident in Uvalde is, the city of Chicago – which has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country – is an open-air shooting gallery and home to an ongoing mass shooting that differs from what happened in Texas primarily because the victims are spread out over time and the police, who can’t count on the backing of the politicians who run the city don’t seem to have the resolve to do anything about it.
More than anything else, we need to take a look at how local and state first responders are trained to handle situations like the one at Robb Elementary. Officials in Texas admitted Friday they waited too long before storming the school, a delay that may have made the tragedy worse.
According to The New York Times’ Eileen Sullivan and J. David Goodman, “When specially equipped federal immigration agents arrived at the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, the local police at the scene would not allow them to go after the gunman who had opened fire on students inside the school, according to two officials briefed on the situation.” That, in a word, is inexcusable.
America is not, as even some defenders of the gun culture argue, a sick nation. It is a great nation, as my mentor said, full of people who have the courage to face the problem of gun violence head-on rationally, showing appropriate respect for due process, the Second Amendment, and other things that matter. They should be given the chance to do so.