Doing nothing in face of tragedy getting nowhere

Published 12:01 am Sunday, February 18, 2018

Once again, our nation finds itself watching in horror as teenagers flee a gunman.

Last week in Florida, the gunman was really a gun-teen. A 19-year-old former student was arrested and charged with murdering 17 people, most of them high school students. Allegedly the teen had a history of mental health issues, which seems almost silly to even mention after such a horrendous act. The point, however, is this person was not deemed a completely normal, completely stable individual. He was troubled to say the least.

That’s no excuse for what he is accused of doing, just a factor in what led to the tragedy.

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Almost instantly, before all the bodies had even been removed from the school buildings, the usual verbal responses were dragged out into the public.

Cries for better gun control were levied.

Equal complaints that gun control will not stop criminals from crime were thrown.

Still more accuse our nation’s failing mental health system.

Others blame the school system for not taking its security systems seriously enough to stop this.

Still others point to people near to the alleged shooter. They must have known something, critics argue.

They probably did. And if they did nothing, they’ll probably live with guilt for the rest of their lives.

The fact is we are all to blame for the state of our country in which such crimes have almost become commonplace.

We have become a selfish, fearful nation, more focused on ourselves than each other.

Look around and look in the mirror; we are all more self-absorbed and self-obsessed than ever. We’ve even coined a word to explain our behavior — selfie.

We used to simply buy a cup of coffee. Now people order a “Venti iced skinny, hazelnut macchiato, light ice, no whip cream.”

In America, perhaps never before, the world is all about us, to the ultimate detriment of everyone else.

I understand that we have a right to bear arms and have personally been a gun owner since before it was actually legal, having been gifted and old bolt-action .22-caliber rifle when I was shorter than the length of the rifle.

I’ve even owned an AR-15 assault rifle, but eventually sold it to a friend after I realized I rarely shot it and it really had no good purpose to me.

I’ve spent a lifetime with guns and around guns. I’ve been fortunate to have never had to use one to defend myself, but feel confident I could if necessary.

But I’d give up every gun I have and the ability to purchase more in the future if doing so would save a single one of those children who were killed last week, on Valentine’s Day.

All of those who died had someone who loved them, someone who is grieving right now.

I cannot stomach the thought that my own selfish desire to own a gun or to keep quiet about someone’s possible mental instability would be a factor that allowed this carnage to unfold.

For the millions of people who seem to politicize such issues, I ask them to simply close their eyes and imagine you are standing before just a single set of grieving parents.

Could you look them in the eyes and tell them that your guns are more important than their child’s life?

Could you tell them that not becoming involved in questioning someone’s mental status is more important than their loved one?

I could not.

I don’t know the answer, but we must begin making some drastic changes to gun laws, to mental health treatments and anything else that could help.

Doing nothing is getting us nowhere.

Our nation is getting worse by the moment and our collective sense of what’s right and wrong and what direction our moral compass should be pointing becomes more clouded with each passing day.

God bless us all, and God give us the strength to find a solution by turning to Him and not turning on each other.
Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or