So it happened again. And again. In fact, it has happened about once a week since Sandy Hook.
Huffingtonpost.com lays out the stats. They report that, “including Tuesday’s incident at a high school in Troutdale, Oregon, 74 school shootings have taken place in the approximately 18 months since the Dec. 14, 2012, Newtown shooting. The average school year typically lasts about 180 days, which means there have been roughly 270 school days, or 54 weeks, of class since the shooting at Newtown. With 74 total incidents over that period, the nation is averaging well over a shooting per school week.”
The data indicates that school shootings drop in the summer when regular classes let out so maybe we won’t have desperate, tragic headlines about school shootings in the coming weeks. But any reduction in violence won’t be the result of political action or a cultural shift, it will be because there are fewer kids and teachers in schools and therefore fewer targets.
Shall we declare the opening of each school year the official opening of Hunting Season on our children and educators?
More than a year ago, after Boston and after relatively flimsy gun legislation was defeated, I used my little blog as a soap box and pointed out that the people who show the most grace in the face of violence are the victims and not our elected leaders. (Post here.)
Mr. Richard Martinez, after his son was killed in a mass shooting in Santa Barbara a few weeks ago, bared his raw anguish to the world and said, “Not One More.” He didn’t ask for the spotlight. He didn’t want that moment but when it came upon him, he faced it. His talk is plain and his point is clear. He’s a hero though this accolade is surely meaningless and infuriating to him as he mourns and lives devastated in the aftermath of his son’s murder.
I live in New York so I turned to Senator Chuck Schumer, a democrat from New York and funneled a bit of Mr. Martinez’s outrage. I asked Mr. Schumer to “do something.” And I received a response! Chuck Schumer tells me that he shares my anger and has in fact acted! But thinking yourself an agent for change because you introduced a bill that went nowhere is as effective as any of us sharing Mr. Martinez’s grief with a hashtag on social media. The difference, and what makes Mr. Schumer’s self-promotion intolerable, is that Chuck Schumer and all of our elected officials have The Standing and The Office and The Access to do something now.
In his remarks yesterday on gun violence, our “Yes We Can” President sounded more like a “I Can’t Do This” President. Is there no one who can lead our country to a future where it’s safe for our children to go to school?
Maybe the next Rose Garden press conference should be on the issue of gun violence. All of our elected officials who want to be part of the solution can stand behind President Obama, chins up, faces in the sun and on camera. Maybe everyone with a seat at the table can put their Big Boy/Big Girl Pants on, calibrate their moral compass and do something.
So here we are, many months and 74 school shootings later and we are asking the same questions and engulfed in the same outrage. All those months ago I wrote:
“I think mass killings are acts of terror and the person who carries out the carnage is a terrorist. And you, our elected helpers, must act with the same urgency and solution based thought to prevent the next school shooting as you do to prevent other acts of terror. You asked us to make you leaders. You can’t be less heroic than innocent bystanders who never asked for the role. It can’t be too much to ask for you to be honest, to engage in fair dialog and to put your personal interest after the interest of the country.”
And I’m back at it. I will hashtag and share and blog till my fingers are blue. I don’t profess to have the answers. But I believe without a doubt there’s a solution if our leaders follow the example of the victims and are brave enough to face the moment.
Will what I wrote here make any difference? Maybe not. But maybe it will move a reader or two to write a letter or two. And if you’re moved, I want to help!
Here’s a handy tool to find the contact information for your representatives and any representative in the country: http://www.contactingthecongress.org/
The USPS has tools and options to automate the messaging and mailing of postcards: https://www.usps.com/send/create-mail-and-postage.htm
With my next post, margagogo.com will return to its regularly scheduled programming and be back to the business of drinking margaritas and eating and laughing. But today is for a pause and a plea to our elected officials (Republicans and Democrats): Do something.