I do not even know where to begin, I am so heartbroken. The latest school shooting in Parkland Florida is terrible, but what I find most tragic in all these mass shootings is the incredible lack of action. Let me say as a pastor, for the first time I am not excited about thoughts and prayers, I want action. I want somebody to do something. I want people to stop screaming at each other at what won’t work and what won’t prevent mass shootings, and let’s just try something. I am ready for a trial and error approach. Try one person’s plan, and if it doesn’t work, move to the next, and the next, and the next, so one day we will not have a school or concert or church or job place marred by horrific tragedy. The one truth we know in all of this is doing nothing is accomplishing nothing. Doing nothing is preventing nothing.
I cannot think of any other mass tragic events in America that takes dozens of lives per tragedy where our leadership and our nation says, “Bad people will do bad things,” and then takes zero action. Let’s examine our government’s response to other acts of terror on our soil.
Timothy McVeigh bombs the federal building in Oklahoma City and we acted. Congress and the President passed the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 and the Victim Allocution Clarification Act of 1997. Also, the purchase of ammonium nitrate has been heavily regulated, and is now monitored by the Department of Homeland Security. No one said it’s just fertilizer.
After the September 11 attacks, our government passed the Patriot Act and created an entirely new secretary level department in the Department of Homeland Security. Also, the government created the prison at Guantanamo Bay.
Even the brief three week anthrax in the mail attacks in 2001 had a massive government response. They passed the Protect Bioshield Act and raised funding for facing biological threats and attacks by 5.6 billion dollars.
Train wrecks led to federal legislation in 2008, and the Federal Aviation Administrations is constantly updating regulations to keep the airways safe. Because of the meth epidemic, I have to give my driver’s license, so the government can track my cold medicine purchases.
Tragedy strikes and our leadership responds, except in the case of mass shootings. This cannot continue.
This latest shooting in Parkland should not only break our hearts, but open our minds and hearts for constructive dialogue. In the last nine months, four of the ten mass shootings with the most victims have occurred. You cannot see another list of dozens of victims, another list of families devastated, another community scarred forever, and become stone in your opinions. You cannot become unwilling to listen, to compromise, to budge, ensuring the status quo continues. You cannot see another mass shooting and not be ready to talk or compromise. The status quo is leading to our children being killed at church, at school, at concerts, and out on the town with friends.
The most ardent supporter of banning guns and gun free zones must be open to discussing arming more guards in schools or posting State or National Guard Soldiers on every campus. The most ardent defender of the Second Amendment must be open to discussing the idea of some form of gun control. The most ardent defender of libertarianism and non-governmental interference must be open to the government acting. Because we must face facts, this problem is not going away. It is not going away.
If this latest mass shooting could not bring you to sit at a table with someone with an opposing view on gun violence and say let’s come together and do something, then I say you care more about your opinion than the lives of our children. That is as tragic as these deaths because that is apathy and arrogance in the face of so many lost lives and shattered families.
All of these memes and posts about “if this attack was done by a truck would we ban trucks” and “do we blame spoons for making people fat” are so misinformed. Our government regulates so much of our lives for our protection that we clearly ignore daily because we don’t mind those regulations.
Trucks are heavily regulated for peoples’ protection. Due to government regulations, right now I can’t drive a school bus nor can I drive without my glasses for the protection of my community. We have an entire arm of the government, the Food and Drug Administration, who supervises and regulates what can go on our spoons to protect our health and our communities. There is also so many more options than banning all guns. Let’s be open and let’s do something.
Now I know there is widespread debate on the Patriot Act, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, and the prison at Guantanamo Bay, but at least our government did something. They tried to do something to prevent tragedies, to prevent acts of terror. But when it comes to mass shootings all we hear is, “their plan won’t work!” And nothing is even tried.
I am fed up. We have to try something. Give every man, woman, and child a gun or repeal the second amendment or anything in between these extremes, but doing nothing is accomplishing nothing and now that must be unacceptable.
Stop telling me, “bad people are going to do bad things.” I am so sick of hearing bad people are going to do bad things, so we cannot fix this problem. Because the only area where we have accepted “bad people are going to do bad things so let’s do nothing” is in regards to mass shootings. We did not say that after Oklahoma City, 9/11, the anthrax attacks, plane and train crashes, or the meth epidemic. I cannot think of another series of mass tragedies where there is no action taken whatsoever to prevent a similar tragedy in the future.
The Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11, the anthrax attacks, plane and train crashes, and meth all had definitive responses.
Another school shot up, another group of families devastated, another community scarred, and what are we going to do?
If you believe this is a mental illness problem, then force gun owners and potential gun owners to be thoroughly psychologically examined on a regular basis. If it is a computer database problem, then let gun purchase background checks have more access to police databases to stop sales to a person who has had the law visit him or her two dozen times. If gun free zones don’t work, then let’s arm teachers. If this is a semiautomatics have no purpose other than to shoot people, let’s ban them. If this is a video game and entertainment issue desensitizing us to violence, then act in those areas.
At this point, I don’t care what our response is, just please, please have a response. Then if the response works, America wins and lives are saved. If it doesn’t, we try plan b. If that doesn’t, we try plan c. If that doesn’t…we keep trying, and one day we will save lives, so why aren’t we even trying? Doing nothing is not working.
Let’s flood our congress men and women, our senators, our president, our government as a whole with letters, calls, emails, until they take action! This is one status quo that must end.
Thanks for reading, Jesse Colbert