All of us were shocked last week by what happened in Uvalde, Texas. After shooting his grandmother on Tuesday, May 24, Salvador Ramos gunned down 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, after barricading himself inside a classroom. The students were 8, 9, and 10 years old. How could such a tragedy happen? What are we to make of it? Well, let’s consider some things about all this.
Ramos, 18, legally purchased AR platform rifles on May 17, 2022, and May 20, 2022. One of the guns was found in Ramos’s car outside the school, and the other one was found with his body inside the school. Ramos also purchased 375 rounds of 5.56 ammunition (foxnews.com).
On Tuesday, May 24, before arriving at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, he was involved in a domestic disturbance with his grandmother, shooting her in the face and seriously injuring her (foxnews.com)
Officials said that Ramos wrote a series of Facebook messages approximately 30 minutes before the event unfolded, “The first post was to the point of he said, ‘I’m going to shoot my grandmother.’ The second post was, ‘I shot my grandmother.’ The third post, maybe less than 15 minutes before arriving at the school, was, ‘I’m going to shoot an elementary school.'” (foxnews.com).
He then entered the school and barricaded himself in a fourth-grade classroom, where he opened fire on students and school staff. Fortunately, he was shot and killed by an agent from the Border Patrol Tactical Unit (foxnews.com).
Now, some things to consider.
PRAYERS & SUPPORT FOR THE FAMILIES
Our first concern is to pray for God’s comforting love to be around the families who have lost children and loved ones in the tragedy. In March this year, our eldest daughter Beth died after a long battle with cancer. We know how painful it has been for us to lose a child, albeit she was 61 years old. I can only imagine the grief and heartache that the families in Uvalde must be experiencing at this time. Our hearts and prayers go out to them all. Already churches and people are reaching out to stand with them and support them. It will be a long process of healing for the community.
MENTAL ILLNESS & COMMUNITY CAUSES
Since the alleged gunman was shot and killed, it will not be possible to fully know what led him to do these tragic things. If his grandmother survives, she may be able to shed some light on it all. We do know that he was a loner. It does not appear there is any record of mental problems prior to his recent actions, but further investigations may reveal some evidence.
We must also recognize that the COVID-19 epidemic led many people to experience isolation and, consequently, loneliness, which could have contributed to it also.
EVIL IN THIS WORLD
An event like this demonstrates that we live in a fallen world where evil is very much present. Indeed, murder goes back to the beginning, when Cain killed Abel in Genesis, and it has been going on ever since. Sometimes it involves just one person; other times, violence occurs in the conflict between groups of people, such as gangs. Finally, it also involves nations in wars. However, we need to realize laws do not stop evil from happening, only possibly reducing their effects.
THE RATE OF MASS SCHOOL SHOOTINGS
Contrary to popular thinking and voices in the media, mass school shootings are rare. The FBI defines a mass shooting incident as “one where four or more people are killed, this is the pattern of mass school shootings in the 21st century”: (The numbers after the dates mass school shootings).
2022: 1 2021: 1 2020: 0 2019: 0
2018: 2 2017: 1 2016: 0 2015: 1
2014: 1 2013: 1 2012: 2 2011: 0
2010: 0 2009: 0 2008: 1 2007: 1
2006: 1 2005: 1 2004: 0 2003: 0
2002: 0 2001: 0 2000: 0
This amounts to 14 incidents in more than 22 years in a nation of around 320 million. Nonetheless, one is too many. We must note, however, there have been cases that involved large numbers of innocent victims, including the school massacre in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, ten years ago.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
Inevitably this can very quickly become a political issue. Indeed, President Biden blamed it on the “gun lobby” and fumed, “When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?” (whitehouse.gov). Generally, democrats, on the one hand, want more laws, including the banning of assault rifles. And generally, republicans, on the other hand, have resisted any new laws in this regard, arguing on the basis of the Second Amendment to the Constitution and that a new law would not have prevented this shooting. One commentator, Micheal Moore, took this a step further, calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment to the Constitution (powerlineblog.com).
The chances are with such a divided nation and congress, nothing will be done, and we will continue life as usual and get ready for further mass killings. But what should we do?
A MODEST PROPOSAL
I want to suggest some things we could do regarding this.
1. Raise the age of young people being licensed to have a gun. As someone said, “You can’t buy a beer if you are 18 but you can buy a gun.” It seems to be a sensible thing to do to raise the age to 21 or even 25. For those who want their guns to go hunting, then let permission be granted for a juvenile to shoot a gun in the company of an older adult. Somewhat like a young person learning to drive when an adult accompanies them. However, it has been pointed out to me you can join the US Armed Forces at 18.
2. Ban the sale, for most people, of assault-style weapons. When you think about it, what does a person need them for anyway? They are weapons of war and their use should be restricted.
Now for those who harken to the Second Amendment to the Constitution, let me suggest that it does not restrict all weapons, only a specific kind – assault weapons. It would still be possible for a person to own a gun. Democracy is a balance between individual freedom and community responsibility. So in the name of the community, there are limits to individual freedom.
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, gave his opinion that assault rifles should, at a minimum, require a special permit when the recipient is extremely well vetted.
POLICE OFFICERS AT SCHOOLS
It should be noted that some communities have called for every school to have armies of police officers on duty to ensure the safety of the children. That certainly would help. A further suggestion is the concept of having only one entrance to the school.
We need to realize that we live in a fallen world that includes not only the sin of all of us but the presence of evil in the hearts of some who would embark on tragedies such as what has happened just recently in Texas. Laws will not change that.
We need to continue to pray for the families who suffered loss as well as the community which is living in shock and grief. We need to pray for God’s protection on our own families, knowing that the devil comes to “kill, steal, and destroy” (See John 10:10).
We need to realize that we will never see the world that we dream of, where these kinds of things do not happen. It will not happen until Jesus returns to set up his kingdom here on Earth.
God have mercy on us. “Thy Kingdom come, They will be done on Earth as it is in heaven” (See Luke 11 and Mark 6).
You know I love you dearly, Dr Langstaff, and I don’t posit as a solution what I’m about to say, but as rebuttal to the idea of banning what you call assault type weapons. The second ammendment is not about shooting Bambi. It’s not about gun sports of any kind. The second ammendment is about the right of self preservation, primarily in preventing overreach of tyrannical government, though also ensuring the right of self defense for individuals. You suggest we defend ourselves, as law abiding citizens, with double barrel shotguns? … single shot rifles? … perhaps muskets? Will your ban affectively prevent criminals from continued acquisition of sophisticated arms? And, in keeping with original intent, to ensure our ability as citizens to defend against tyrannical government, the ban certainly should extend to the military. What you submit as solution is, when the smoke of compromise dissipates, disarmament of the American people …
… in my humble opinion.