Are We Safe from a Mass Shooting in Tennessee?
I don’t know if it’s just us Americans or if it’s people everywhere. The first time something occurs that is not normal, we are shocked. However, when it occurs over and over again, we start to accept it as normal.
We get desensitized to these events. They no longer shake us up unless there is something odd about them.
One of These is Mass Shootings
When the first one occurred many years ago, we were shocked. We wondered how it could happen. Most of us felt some action should be taken.
As time passed, we got back to the normal things we were doing. Nothing was done to figure out why the shooting occurred or what could be done to prevent another one from happening.
Years have passed. More mass shootings have occurred. No effort has been made to prevent them from occurring. Most of us came to accept this was a normal part of living in America. We just had to be careful.
In May of 2022, an 18-year-old armed with an AR-15 shot and killed 10 people in a grocery store in Buffalo, NY. It was all over the news. Again, there was a clamor that shootings like this had to be stopped.
That clamor would have died down and no action would have been taken if the mass shooting in Uvalde, TX had not occurred 10 days later
At an elementary school in Uvalde, another 18-year-old armed with an AR-15 shot and killed 19 students and 2 teachers.
At the grocery store in Buffalo, the youngest victim was 32. The others were between 52 and 86. One wonders why older people were targeted. Was it because they were less likely be able to defend themselves?
The 19 students killed at the school in Uvalde were between 9 and 11 years old. They were far too young to have their life ripped from them. These 19 students went to school that day. None of their parents had any reason to believe they wouldn’t be coming home that evening.
22 Mass Shootings in America Since 2012
One article published after the Uvalde shooting listed all of the mass shootings that have occurred in this country since May of 2012.
• There have been 22.
• 374 people have been killed.
• 5 shootings have been at schools and 84 students have been killed.
• 2 have been at churches and 1 at a synagogue with 45 more people killed.
There was another uproar. Many demanded again action be taken to prevent mass shootings from occurring again.
A New Law in June of 2022
A bipartisan group in the U S Senate started working on legislation to address the issue. They drafted a bill which the both the Senate and House of Representatives passed and President Biden signed into law on June 18.
This law does the following:
• It expands background checks for prospective gun buyers under the age of 21. Authorities have up to 10 business days to examine juvenile and mental health records before anyone under 21 can buy a gun.
• It sets aside millions of dollars for states to fund various intervention programs. These include mental health services and drug courts. It encourages states to pass red flag laws which would allow authorities to temporarily confiscate guns from any person found by a judge to be too dangerous to possess them.
• It allocates millions of dollars for school safety.
• It also toughens laws against the trafficking of guns and straw purchasing, the practice of buying a gun on behalf of someone barred from purchasing one.
• It has a boyfriend loophole. This prohibits anyone who is convicted of domestic abuse that occurred in dating or marital relationship from buying firearms.
While there was hope the new law would restrict the purchase of assault rifles, attempts to ban these rifles totally or restrict their purchase were defeated.
Why Are Assault Rifles the Focus of Attention?
In 14 of the 22 mass shootings, the shooter used an AR-15, an AK-47 or similar rifle. These all are automatic rifles which can fire a large number of rounds quickly.
The NRA and others have said these are hunting rifles. They argued banning them would restrict a person’s right to own a firearm as specified in the Second Amendment of the constitution.
I question that. I am a hunter myself and love to hunt. I don’t see how these can be classified as hunting rifles and how we should allow them to be used in hunting.
Hunting is a sport. Hunters give the animals they hunt a sporting chance. That sporting chance is eliminated when a hunter can spray the animal with a massive number of bullets at one time.
These Assault Rifles are Similar to Those Our Soldiers Use in Combat.
Soldiers are trained when and how to use them. No training is required before the average person buys one of these assault rifles from a gun store. The person is never asked how they plan to use it nor if they know how to use it properly.
Governor Lee, Senators Blackburn and Hagerty and Congressman Burchett did not support the Federal Law that took effect on June 18.
Tennessee is a state which strives to protect the rights of its citizen to own firearms.
In July of 2021, Tennessee became a permit-less carry state. Prior to that, a person had to have a permit to buy a pistol. They had to have training in how to use one properly. Under the new law, most individuals do not need a permit to carry a pistol either openly or concealed. Nor do they have to be trained in how to use it.
Executive Order 97
In June of 2022, Governor Lee issued executive order 97. The main emphasis of this order was to ensure that detailed safety plans were in place at every school and that law enforcement expanded active shooter training.
Senator Blackburn’s Position
A spokesperson for Senator Blackburn issued a statement on her behalf following the Uvalde shooting. There were 3 points:
Security at schools had to be enhanced.
School officials who had been in the military or had a law enforcement background should be allowed to carry guns.
People suffering from mental illness should have access to proper resources and treatment for their conditions.
Senator Hagerty’s Comments
After the Uvalde shooting, Senator Hagerty said:
• Steps had to be taken to ensure students had to be protected and to make it more difficult for shootings like this to occur at schools.
• Mental Health Issues have to be taken seriously. People with mental health problems have to be able to get proper treatment for them in urban and rural areas.
Congressman Burchett said he didn’t support the bill because he didn’t feel it addressed the root causes of gun violence. He has cosponsored two bills in congress which he believes will better protect school children from violence
• The first is the Safe Schools Act. Some Covid-19 funds have not been spent. This bill would authorize the use of these funds to improve safety measures in schools.
• The School Watch and Tactics Act is the second. This would direct the Attorney General and the Secretary of Education to provide school resource officers with better training on how to protect students
Let’s Take a Closer Look at Governor Lee’s, Senators Blackburn and Haggerty’s and Congressman Burchett’s Proposals
Their proposals sound good. However, will they really protect school children and others from mass shootings?
• The Uvalde policemen had active shooter training 2 months before the shooting there. Their training did not help them stop the shooter from killing students. In fact, the police did not stop the shooter. After 70 minutes, a unit from the Border Patrol went in, shot the shooter and stopped the massacre.
• The governor, the senators and Congressman Burchett say Mental Health Issues have to be dealt with. The problem here is most of the mass shooters have not been diagnosed or treated for mental health issues.
In addition, Tennessee ranks very poorly in caring for people with mental health problems. Mental Health America ranks the state as 45th out of all 50 states when it comes to people having access to mental health resources. What are the chances of significant improvement being made and the people in Tennessee having the access they need to these resources?
The Problem Not Addressed
Governor Lee’s, Senators Blackburn’s and Hagerty’s and Congressman Burchett’s proposals focus on eliminating mass shootings in schools.
• Only 5 of the 22 mass shootings since 2012 have taken place in schools.
• The other 15 have taken place elsewhere.
Their proposals do not suggest any way to reduce or eliminate mass shootings in the other places.
Many people are afraid to go to events where there will be a large number of people.
Their Concern is a Shooter May Start Shooting Randomly
Even children have let their parents know they are worried their parents may be shot and killed at a public event.
We here in Tennessee have been very fortunate there have not been any mass shootings. Our state is not much different from New York, Texas or any of the other states where mass shootings have occurred.
Is it just a matter of time before there is one here? There is that real possibility one can occur at any time. More action mut be taken not only in Tennessee but also in the country to make sure mass shootings are very rare.
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