On Tuesday, there was another shooting in America.
This time, Troutdale, Ore. took a turn in the rotation of student slaughter sites — otherwise known as schools — when a gunman shot and killed one before dying of a yet to be disclosed cause.
That makes 74 school shootings since the Newtown massacre less than two years ago.
If you’re looking for a solution to all this madness, you’ve come to the wrong place. That’s because I — we — have no solution.
With relative ease I could probably dig up some statistics showing how many kids have died in school shootings over the years. No doubt a map exists somewhere with dots indicating where all the murders have taken place. Certainly a graph or two could be located indicating the ludicrously high rate of gun violence in schools in the U.S. relative to other countries. I could do all of this and then… what?
Nothing. That’s what.
Because by now it’s become abundantly clear that we as a nation actually care so little about the thing politicians are always telling us that they and we supposedly care the most about: The Children. For all our self-righteous, self-important bullshit about how The Children are our future, about how we need to pass this or that law for The Children, and about how education is so important for The Children, we can’t even provide The Children of this country — the richest the world has ever seen — with a place to go and learn without possibly getting gunned down as they do algebra, eat lunch, or do some other activity where their heads shouldn’t have to be on a swivel looking out for the next disturbed young man to come along and kill them.
In this country we always talk about how we can better educate The Children to prepare them — and the country — for a future in a globally competitive world. But how in the hell are we supposed to do that when we can’t even protect them in the place they should feel the safest outside of their own homes? Preparing The Children for the future? That seems like far too much of an ask when we can’t even protect them right fucking now.
And if you think the answer is armed guards in schools, like the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre does, I have some news for you. If we really need armed guards at places of learning, then this would indicate that we’ve become a hopeless society with problems that go far, far, far beyond a lack of security measures in place at schools. That a school would require guards, metal detectors, dogs, or random searches in the first place, is not a matter of school security, but a matter of national health. And right now our national health is very poor.
As I said, we don’t have solution. Some combination of gun control, background checks, and mental health reform would go a long way I imagine in reducing the number of shootings, as well as mitigate the harm done during the ones that do occur. Maybe schools could implement more rigorous policies for identifying possible problem students before they’re able to go off the deep end.
Whatever the solutions might be to the underlying phenomenon of school shootings — and mass shootings in general — don’t expect anything at the national level, which really is where the reform would need to occur to have a significant impact. We know Congress doesn’t work, but even if it did, it seems we are wholly incapable of grappling with whatever ails this country. It’s an undiagnosed sickness that drives a startling amount of our citizens to take up arms against each other while the rest of us left wondering how this could’ve happened all over again.